Diary of a Resurrectionist, Wednesday 11th December

Wednesday 11th
Tom & Bill and me removed 5 from St . Barthol w., 2 Wilson, 2 Brookes, 1 Bell ; in the evening got 1 Harps,  went to S l . Thomas’, at home all night.

Miss Tiptaff (Tipstaff/Tiptass) Miss A Dawson

Distributed 5 bodies from the store at St Bartholomew’s; raised 1 in the evening and took it to St Thomas’s.

Tom (his first mention in the diary) is Thomas Light, one of the members of the gang; Light (Bransby Cooper tells us) had been a respectable gentleman’s servant. But he had got caught stealing a pane of glass from a carriage window and was sentenced to a period aboard a prison hulk. When he returned from his sentence, he fell in with the gang, but after a time (Bransby Cooper says) “became so notorious for knavery that none of the men would work with him”. He was a talented ostler, however, and having left the profession before the Anatomy Act, in his later years he worked with horses. Having encountered Light changing the horses for his carriage one day, Bransby asked the coachman of Light’s character as a horsekeeper; the coachman is said to have replied “The best between here and York; no horsekeeper I know can turn out his cattle and harness like him”

Light later converted (sincerely or not) to the Methodist’s faith. Aquiring a horse and carriage from his new religious ‘friends’ who were eager to secure him in his new good character, he became a cabbie and drove about London in his new business, “with as little of the appearance as he (had) of the character of a religious enthusiast”.

(Bransby Cooper speaks of Light, who he calls L (disguising his name), in the present tense at the end of his recollections, suggestion Light was still alive in 1843 when the book was published.)

Bell is Charles Bell, the great surgeon and private anatomy teacher.  Bell (1774–1842) was a Scot who moved to London (already being a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinbugh) in 1804, and he set up his own private anatomy school. These early days in London, without connections in the new city, were difficult ones; he took a “cheap old house” in Leicester Square and persevered there as a teacher until 1812. It would have been to this little school that Naples took the subject. Bell might have had humble beginnings in London, but he built himself up and made many influential friends, such as John Abernethy. From 1812, Bell ran the Great Windmill Street School and was appointed surgeon of the Middlesex Hospital.

This is the 2nd mention of a Miss Dawson – this time, an initial is added, but they may be the same woman (first mention was with the entry made on the 9th December).


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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