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6441DEAD HOUSE

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  • Judith Rempel
    May 2, 2011
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      Ah – this “foreign” stuff is so very interesting.  I have no UK heritage myself, so probably find the census terms more obscure than most of the e-listers, but even you folks likely will find this one interesting. 

       

      Continuing in my research journey, I’m looking for a Hugh Jones (not Welsh, perhaps English- or Irish-born), likely Catholic, who married  an Irish-born Italian lass (Mary A. Pieraccina/i).  

       

      I know Hugh was a builder in 1859 (from a St. Pancras marriage record of his son William) and I find his wife in the 1861 census, living in Norwood, Surrey with son William who was a taxidermist). Mary is shown as “mother” in the 1861, and married, but there is no sign of Hugh.

       

      I do think it’s possible that Hugh may be invisible because he was in Ireland (and no census is available for 1861), or he could be many of the solitary Hugh Jones that I find in England.

       

      In my meanderings (I’m way beyond logic at this time and hoping for serendipity), I found a Hugh Jones who died in 1871 in Liverpool (Walton Park Parochial Cemetery; sounds like a sharp departure from London or Ireland, but parts of the Jones family did live in Liverpool and nearby Lancashire communities).  His address at date of death was of no help, but I thought it might be of curious interest to all.  The record reads:

       

      No.                                                                                         1508 

      Name:                                                                                  Hugh Jones

      Abode:                                                                                 Dead House Pr Dk

      When buried:                                                                    Sept 14th

      Age:                                                                                       60 yrs

      By whom the ceremony was performed:              J. Holmes

      And, a marginal annotation:                                        35 U

       

      [others on the page were annotated 34C, 34D, or 35 U – perhaps the location of the gravesite]

       

      This led me to a  couple of interesting articles:

       

      First, “A Pauper Dead-House: The Expansion of the Cambridge Anatomical Teaching School under the late-Victorian Poor Law, 1870–1914” (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=546296), wherein the following paragraph opens the article:

       

      In May 1901 an article appeared in the Yarmouth Advertiser and Gazette entitled ‘Alleged Traffic in Pauper Corpses—How the Medical Schools are Supplied—The Shadow of a Scandal’.1 It recounted that, although a pauper named Frank Hyde aged fifty had died in Yarmouth workhouse on 11 April 1901, his body was missing from the local cemetery. The case caused a public outcry because the workhouse death register stated that Hyde had been “buried by friends” in the parish five days after he had died. An editorial alleged that “the body was sent to Cambridge for dissection” instead and that the workhouse Master's clerk profited 15 shillings from the cadaver's sale. Following continued bad publicity, the visiting committee of Yarmouth Union investigated the allegations. They discovered that between 1880 and 1901 “26 bodies” had been sold for dissection and dismemberment under the terms of the Anatomy Act (1832) to the Cambridge anatomical teaching school situated at Downing College. The Master's clerk staged a false funeral each time a pauper died in his care. He arranged it so that “coffins were buried containing sand or sawdust or other ingredients but the body of the person whose name appeared on the outside [emphasis in original]” of each coffin never reached the grave. This was Hyde's fate too. Like many paupers who died in the care of Poor Law authorities in the nineteenth century, Hyde's friends and relatives lacked resources to fund his funeral expenses. Consequently, he underwent the ignominy of a pauper burial, but not in Yarmouth. His body was conveyed on the Great Eastern railway in a “death-box” to Cambridge anatomical teaching school. Following preservation, which took around four months, the cadaver was dissected and dismembered. It was interred eleven months after death in St Benedict's parish graveyard within Mill Road cemetery, Cambridge, on 8 March 1902.2 A basic Christian service was conducted by John Lane of the anatomy school before burial in a pauper grave containing a total of six bodies. The plot was unmarked and Frank Hyde disappeared from Poor Law records—the end product of pauperism.

       

      Then, second:

      Religious Belief and Popular Culture, http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.co.uk/pdf/0-19-820769-7.pdf, scroll to p. 50 of the pdf (80 in the publication), to see reference to a “dead house” adjourning a church – the waiting place of bodies for coroner’s inquest.

       

      So – I’ve not solved this problem either – the one of finding “my” Hugh Jones – but I have had a wonderful pass through some previously unknown practices in England.

       

      Judith (Judii) Rempel

      rempel@...