TIL until the Anatomy Act of 1832 (UK) there weren’t enough corpses for medical schools and body snatching proliferated to a point grieving families had to guard graves after burial. Robbers didn’t steal jewelry/clothes as that was a felony punishable by death/transportation; a body was only a fine.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_snatching#United_Kingdom

What do you think?

12 Points
Upvote Downvote


Leave a Reply
  1. In the 19th century, body snatching was also a big problem in America.

    Cemeteries responded by appointing men to keep watch over graves and sometimes the families of the dead paid for these guards.

    But eventually they figured out they could booby-trap the graves with guns and explosives instead.

    Thus was born “Cemetary Guns” and “Coffin Torpedoes”…

    Spring-loaded guns that fired when triggered by tripwires had been around since at least the 15th century. They could be armed and left active for as long as the powder stayed dry. The gun that became popular in some cemeteries was designed by one Mr. Clementshaw. It had a large-bore, bell-mouthed flintlock affixed to a block of thick wood. The guns were fitted with iron pintles or swivels underneath, and had sliding trigger bars instead of conventional hook-shaped gun triggers that fired the gun when pulled forward and not backward. This allowed the forward motion of a tripwire to pull the trigger and fire the gun. At the front of the bar were usually three iron rings, allowing the trigger to be connected to up to three tripwires.

    The gun would be loaded at night and left armed by the cemetery keeper. In the morning, it would be removed so that cemetery visitors during the day wouldn’t trip it.

    Many crafty grave robbers would send women to the cemetery disguised as mourners and report on the position of the pegs to which the wires would be attached. Cemetery keepers defeated this by waiting until sunset to set up the gun.

    But from the 1860s through the 1890s, body snatching had become an even bigger problem in the United States and cemetery guns evolved into other more fatal defenses to fight the menace.

    One design invented in 1878 required an armed shotgun to be placed inside the coffin. When the lid was raised, it showered the thieves with lead pellets right on the face.

    Another invention, called “Coffin Torpedoes”, was essentially a landmine placed underneath or inside the coffin. When the coffin was disturbed, the charge would detonate, tearing apart the grave robbers (including the corpse that was being protected).

    Source: [https://www.amusingplanet.com/2019/02/cemetery-guns-and-coffin-torpedoes.html](https://www.amusingplanet.com/2019/02/cemetery-guns-and-coffin-torpedoes.html)

Leave a Reply