Diary of a Resurrectionist, Tuesday 10th December 1811

Tuesday 10th
Intoxsicated all day : at night went out & got 5 Bunhill Row. Jack all most buried.

Miss Thomas

A drunken day, 5 raised.

Levels of drinking in the fraternity varied; Butler was, according to Bransby Cooper, often drunk, but was a cheerful drunk in general, but that Crouch was rarely drunk (but when he was, he was an even worse bully than usual). Naples eventually destroyed his constitution with spirits, but was not noted by Bransby as being a heavy drinker until the last years of his life. It is to be presumed that a degree of sobriety was an advantage in a profession that required stealth and discretion. It seems to be the case though that many grave diggers, at least, drank to escape the horror of the burial grounds and their smell…

Jack Harnett was almost buried in a grave; graves collapsed not infrequently and their depth and the volume of earth could easily bury a man alive. There were many incidents of this sort of accident occuring, and the unfortunate grave digger dying of suffocation, smothered by the earth before he could be rescued. Where graves are close together and are not dug in the correct shape (that of a traditional coffin), the thin walls of a new grave, borne down upon by the weight and contents of adjacent graves, can still collapse. Modern funerary trade journals still carry advertisements for supports which can be used to strengthen the walls of a grave being dug.

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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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