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    Azrael
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    Mortsafe

    Post  Azrael on Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:55 pm

    While this article does not necessarily deal with afterlife it does show the extremes people will go to protect their dead. I wrote this for another forum but I do not even remember the forums name now.

    During the Victorian Age fear of the undead ran at a fever pitch. But was it fear of the undead or something else? In the 1800’s there came an invention known as the “Mortsafe”. These gawdy and heavey iron contraptions came in different forms but both served the same purpose. It was not essentially a fear of the undead that was the reason for the Mortsafe but to protect from grave robbers.


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    During the Victorian Era grave robbers were paid good money to steal bodies from their earthly resting places. These bodies were then sold to medical schools for use in anatomy classes to learn the details of the human anatomy by medical students. Many local law enforcement and others mostly turned a blind eye to the practice of grave robbing simply because they were of the belief that these robbers were helping to advance medical science.

    But low and behold along comes the Anatomy Act of 1832 that brought a halt to the grave robbing for profit, it essentially killed the cash cow for the robbers and put an end to the Mortsafe.

    Though there were not many in existence and to be honest not that many were needed and these heavy contraptions could be re-used. I mean after all, about 5 or 6 weeks in the ground decomposition made the body totally useless for medical study and for the grave robbers themselves. Not that the robbers did not have ingenious ways of getting around the Mortsafe.

    A method that was quite popular was to dig a hole say some 20 feet from the grave itself. The robbers would then tunnel to the coffin from the hole, pop open the end of the casket and drag the body out horizontally! Don’t think this worked? Well there have been discoveries as recent as the 20th century that shows this form of high tech grave robbing!


    The Victorian Era brought about a different view of death and I guess you could say they had their own "Death Ritual" so to speak. Mortality rates were high during the period especially for children whom many did not live until their 5th birthday.


    It should be noted that the Anatomy Act of 1832 was repealed in 1984 by Parliament when they were trying to deal with the issue of transplants.



    Hope you enjoy. Any questions feel free to ask.
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:17 pm

    Extremely interesting topic...A bit before my time  :blush:  but I remember reading about this period many years ago.    

    What was the name of the grave robber who was prominent in this trade at that time?    
    Were there three grave robbers or only two who were well known?

    The hospitals used to sneak the bodies out.    Was payment received for these 'gift's into the doctor's pockets?

    The Mortsafe?   Never read about that...I always gathered that the bodies were wrapped up or placed in boxes or cheap coffins...


    Last edited by SpiritVoices on Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:18 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : wrong word.)
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    Azrael
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Azrael on Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:09 pm

    SpiritVoices wrote:Extremely interesting topic...A bit before my time  :blush:  but I remember reading about this period many years ago.    

    What was the name of the grave robber who was prominent in this trade at that time?    
    Were there three grave robbers or only two who were well known?

    The hospitals used to sneak the bodies out.    Was payment received for these 'gift's into the doctor's pockets?

    The Mortsafe?   Never read about that...I always gathered that the bodies were wrapped up or placed in boxes or cheap coffins...

    Two were well known.Burke and Hare. Hare turned whats called King's evidence and was scot free. Burke on the other hand was eventually convicted and hung on January 28, 1829. In an ironic twist his body was sent for dissection. Its reported that Hare was smuggled out of the country.



    Was payment received for these 'gift's into the doctor's pockets?


    This I am not sure about but I will get back to you.
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:08 pm

    Two were well known.Burke and Hare. Hare turned whats called King's evidence and was scot free. Burke on the other hand was eventually convicted and hung on January 28, 1829. In an ironic twist his body was sent for dissection. Its reported that Hare was smuggled out of the country.




    Never knew that Hare was not executed....
    My father had an old book of Victorian murders and that was where I read the story of Burke and Hare.....very interesting....I'm a murder mystery fan....
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Violet on Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:29 pm

    Fascinating stuff!



    Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
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    Azrael
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Azrael on Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:17 am

    SpiritVoices wrote:Extremely interesting topic...A bit before my time  :blush:  but I remember reading about this period many years ago.    

    What was the name of the grave robber who was prominent in this trade at that time?    
    Were there three grave robbers or only two who were well known?

    The hospitals used to sneak the bodies out.    Was payment received for these 'gift's into the doctor's pockets?

    The Mortsafe?   Never read about that...I always gathered that the bodies were wrapped up or placed in boxes or cheap coffins...


    Was payment received for these 'gift's into the doctor's pockets?

    I cannot find anything that says where these payments went if anyone has a clue please post it here I would like to know.
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:47 pm

    An interesting topic!    Anymore information to divulge?     
    Burke and Hare...that was them......
    Jack the Ripper was another interesting case...never did find who the murderer was,did they?
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Azrael on Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:27 pm

    What do you think about the Lizzie Borden case? Do you believe she killed her father and stepmother?
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:52 am

    Now's there a question...Watched that movie too and read the book many years ago...
    My instinct says 'yes'.....
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Azrael on Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:54 am

    SpiritVoices wrote:Now's there a question...Watched that movie too and read the book many years ago...
    My instinct says 'yes'.....

    I think that burned dress held the key to everything. But the cops at the time botched the whole investigation. They did not secure the crime scene or anything else. Lizzie always had a grudge against her father for them living the way they did she believed they should have been living in a higher class. And it was well known her and her stepmother did not get along. Was this motive for murder? In Lizzie's eyes it could have been. After she was exonerated her and her sister collected the $100,000 dollar insurance and moved to an upper class neighborhood.


    I started a separate topic in the General Discussion forum on Murder and Unsolved Mystery so that we can continue it there. Maybe Violet could move the posts not dealing with the Mortsafe there?
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:56 pm

    I've moved to the other topic.....
    Good idea.....I might just have a search in old books if I can find any,on old Victorian mysteries.....
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Azrael on Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:23 pm

    SpiritVoices wrote:I've moved to the other topic.....
    Good idea.....I might just have a search in old books if I can find any,on old Victorian mysteries.....

    Yeah please do.....Have a great interest in the Victorian Era......
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:34 pm

    I'm going to rake the net tomorrow...
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Azrael on Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:23 pm

    SpiritVoices wrote:I'm going to rake the net tomorrow...


    Yeah I will do the same.
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:46 pm

    Still haven't got around to that but will later....had a busy morning.
     :blush:
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Azrael on Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:05 am

    SpiritVoices wrote:Still haven't got around to that but will later....had a busy morning.
     :blush:

    Thats alright, I have been under the weather all week with a sore throat so I have not done much research either. Was or have been contemplating starting a forum on this topic have not been able to find a lot of Victorian related forums.
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:48 am

    It depends what classification this topic will come under.....
    Hang on to it for the moment and see Violet says.....
    What other old Victorian murders can you remember?
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:57 am

    The only heading I can find for this sort of topic is titled The Unexplained.....in other words mysteries about long ago murders.
    Were they guilty or or not?
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    Azrael
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Azrael on Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:32 pm

    SpiritVoices wrote:The only heading I can find for this sort of topic is titled The Unexplained.....in other words mysteries about long ago murders.
    Were they guilty or or not?

    No. I was talking about starting a forum not one on this board.
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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  Violet on Sat Mar 01, 2014 1:50 am

    Sounds like a great idea to me, i've not seen anything like that and it's a vast subject.



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    Re: Mortsafe

    Post  SpiritVoices on Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:56 am

    Azrael wrote:
    SpiritVoices wrote:The only heading I can find for this sort of topic is titled The Unexplained.....in other words mysteries about long ago murders.
    Were they guilty or or not?

    No. I was talking about starting a forum not one on this board.
    That's a great idea....go ahead,I will be your first member....
    You could add so much to a subject like this..... :asmile:

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