Digging Up The Untold Stories of Britain’s Resurrection Men

Suzie Lennox

‘When the box was opened it was found to contain the body
of a young woman, supposed to be about 19 years of age…'

‘On searching the basket it contained a human body, which was covered
over with paper. The smell from the basket was very offensive.
Date Published :
August 2016
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
8-page plate section
Format AvailablePrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781783463428

Dimensions : 9.5 X 6.5 inches
Stock Status : Out of stockPages : 144
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In this chilling history of the bodysnatching trade, the stories of Britain's lesser known Resurrection Men are told. Here are the stories of the men who robbed graves during the winter months of 1742 - 1832, selling fresh cadavers to anatomists up and down the country all in aid of medical advancement. The murders of Burke and Hare often dominate the macabre tales of bodysnatching, but the stories of Henry Gillies, William Patrick and Joseph Grainger are all just as gruesome. Stories involving medical students and anatomists are retold as we discover the cases that have become hidden in history.

Anatomy schools, short of fresh cadavers for dissection would pay high prices for corpses, asking no questions about their origins. This resulted in the criminal underworld of the ‘Sack ‘em up Men’ or bodysnatchers, which spread fear and horror throughout the United Kingdom. It’s time to discover these lesser known stories about Britain’s often forgotten history.

About The Author

After graduating with a BA (Hons) History, Suzie Lennox worked at North Yorkshire County Record Office and is a former archivist. She completed her MscEcon in 2011 and ran her own genealogy business, specialising in pre-1837 research. Now living in New Zealand, she enjoys digging up macabre tales of our ancestors and discovering the darker side of British history. You can follow her on Twitter @DiggingUp1800 or discover more bodysnatching stories on her blog Britain’s Forgotten Bodysnatchers.


"This is a very professionally written book by an author who self-evidently knows her stuff. There's a fairly detailed bibliography, sources used, and a brief list of record repositories, all rounded off with an index. All in all, this is a gruesome subject, but an important one insofar."

- Ripperologist

"Thanks to these shadowy characters, medical students were never short of a cadaver to dissect and handsomely for the wares that the likes of Henry Gillies provided. With no questions asked, the bodysnatchers soon became figures of fear, moving by night and showing little respect to the British dead. Although the book isn't short on gruesome stories and stomach churning moments, its strength undoubtedly lies in the way Lennox considers the wider impactions of the bodysnatcher's trade and how their immoral work allowed for continuing medical research and study. She skilfully weaves a tapestry of criminal and surgical connections, teasing out the names that history has forgotten and placing them in a richly written social narrative. Lennox handles this very specialist subject with an authoritative air and hugely entertaining, evocative style. It is to her credit that she resists the temptation to stray into sensationalism, even when the material virtually invites it. She brings the Georgian underworld vividly back to life and in doing so, rightly resurrects some colorful characters that might otherwise never have seen the light of day again."

- All About History

"The lesser known stories of the perpetrators, surgeons, families of the stolen corpses and those who tried to prevent body snatching, are fascinating"

- Scottish Field

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