Premature Burials in England, Part 2
STEPHEN JACOBS continues his look at the horror of premature burials in the UK. This time it’s those who didn’t survive being buried alive!
Today, we dig deeper into the 1905 book Premature Burial and How It May Be Prevented with special reference to trance, catalepsy and other forms of suspended animation by William Tebb, F.R.G.S.and Col. Edward Perry Vollum, M.D. and discover accounts of those who found themselves in the preciacous situtation of being buried alive!
On July 2, 1896, the author visited the grave of Madam Blunden, in the Cemetery, Basingstoke, Hants, who, according to the inscription (now obliterated), was buried alive. The following narrative appears in The Uncertainty of the Signs of Death, by Surgeon M. Cooper, London, 1746, pp. 78, 79:
“At Basingstoke, in Hampshire, not many years ago, a gentlewoman of character and fortune was taken ill, and, to all appearances, died, while her husband was on a journey to London. A messenger was forthwith despatched to the gentleman, who returned immediately, and ordered everything for her decent interment. Accordingly, on the third day after her supposed decease, she was buried in Holy Ghost Chapel, at the outside of the town, in a vault belonging to the family, over which there is a school for poor children, endowed by a charitable gentleman in the reign of Edward VI. It happened the next day that the boys, while they were at play, heard a noise in the vault, and one of them ran and told his master, who, not crediting what he said, gave him a box on the ear and sent him about his business; but, upon the other boys coming with the same story, his curiosity was awakened, so that he sent immediately for the sexton, and opened the vault and the lady’s coffin, where they found her just expiring. All possible means were used to recover her to life, but to no purpose, for she, in her agony, had bit the nails off her fingers, and tore her face and head to that degree, that, notwithstanding all the care that was taken of her, she died in a few hours in inexpressible torment.”