MEDICAL BURIALS

    This stone Memorial is affixed to the right hand side of the Carriage Archway which joins the two Chapels.

     

    Burials of those who gave their bodies to Medical Science can take place up to a year after that person’s death. We are compiling a list of all those interred in this Cemetery identified as being from Sheffield Medical School.



    Click Here for the latest list of Belated Burials

    Explanation: Where the exact date of death is not known, the year and quarter are from FreeBMD and the days 00 denote unknown, eg, 1900-Mar-00 

     

     

     

    How and Why ? 

    Although we may never know exactly why the deceased became a subject of teaching and research the following information may shed some light on the question.

    Before 1832, the Murder Act of 1752 said that only the corpses of executed murderers could be used for dissection. The rise of Medical Schools and the reduction of executions resulted in the demand being greater than supply, Thus “Body Snatching”  (Wardsend Cemetery website – http://www.friendsofwardsendcemetery.btck.co.uk/people) and the murders of vulnerable people ( Burke and Hare in Edinburgh, Scotland) became a reason for demanding a change in the law.

    Eventually, the Anatomy Act was passed by the U.K.  Parliament in 1832. It sought to clarify who could use a cadaver for medical research and part of which states:

    “ A person having lawful possession of a body may permit it to undergo anatomical examination provided that no relative objected.”

    This helped Physicians, Surgeons and Students by giving them legal access to corpses that were unclaimed after death, particularly those who died in Prisons, Workhouses and Asylums. A person could donate their next of kin’s body in exchange for burial at the expense of the donor.

    A fuller and interesting explanation about this situation can be found at www.leeds.ac.uk/chb/lectures/anatomy1.html   but be warned, parts of this article could be distressing.

    In Victorian times, some people believed that a pauper’s funeral was a sign of both social and religious failure. Those whose bodies were dissected and dismembered could not rise whole from the grave on Judgment Day. Pauper’s funerals were paid for by the local Poor Law Union and although, the relatives of the deceased had up to six weeks to claim the body, Poor Law guardians sold bodies within a week if they were unclaimed or the family indicated that they might require a pauper’s funeral. Thus they could recover the costs and save taxpayers money.

    This is still the legal situation today, although the laws have been updated and the deceased shown more respect. More people than ever are donating their bodies to Medical Science.

    An article on PATIENT’S RIGHTS can be found at
     www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-03.html