Illustration of a Victorian men finding a dead body

Murder, Bodysnatching, and Anatomization in England, 1752-1832


Course description

In 1752 the British government sought to punish murder more effectively by passing a law that imposed postmortem dissection upon all people convicted of that crime. In so doing, they also hoped to supply English anatomy schools with a sufficient number of bodies for purposes of instruction. This talk describes how this statute was conceived, how it seems initially to have succeeded and how—in ultimately failing to meet the needs of anatomy schools—it promoted epidemic levels of grave robbing and ironically, murder itself.

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