Diary of a Resurrectionist, Saturday 7th December 1811

Saturday 7th
At night went out & got 3 at Bunhill Row. 1 St . Thomas’s, 2 Brookes.

(Miss T__?)

3 resurrected and distributed

Bunhill Row is at Old Street in Islington

1 went to St Thomas’s Hospital

2 went to Brookes; Joshua Brookes (1761 – 1833) was the owner of a private anatomy school at Blenheim Steps Great Marlborough Street, (close to the modern location of Libertys department store between Regent Street and Oxford Street). Brookes was also an eccentric character, described by one contemporary (John Flint South?) as “one of the dirtiest professional persons I have ever met with; his good report always proceeded him and his filthy hands continually begrimed his nose with snuff…”.

The description may be exaggerated however – Brookes, like Carpue and other private teachers who were not part of the hospital system, was often isolated socially and professionally by his peers. He was regarded, however, as a brilliant anatomist, and as his brother managed (slightly disreputable) the Exeter ‘Change menagerie, he had a large range of comparative anatomy specimens as well, at his private Brookensian Museum of Comparative Anatomy.

It would not be enough to eventually stop the decline and collapse of his school after the RCS issued a ruling from it’s court of examiners in 1822 that it would not accept anatomy certificates issued from summer courses (summer courses being Brookes’ school’s distinguishing feature…), and then later, that only certificates from universities or hospital schools (or those counter signed by a London Surgeon) would be vaild. When Brookes died, he was in poverty and his collection was broken up and auctioned off.

Brookes had a little trouble with his resurrectionists, and they often pranked him. On one occaision in (1816?) he received a live specimen (a man called Morgan, who was in on the ‘joke’) from Jewish Resurrectionist Israel Chapman and his gang.

The lady’s name accompanying this entry is well obscured.


About theresurrectionists

My name is Kirsty Chilton. I am a Medical Historian working in London and relentlessly searching for the body snatchers of 18th and 19th century London. Currently, the content of this blog is a personal project to repost and comment on the diary of 19th century Resurrectionist Joseph Naples 200 years from the time it was written.
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