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Body-snatcher (A)

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One who snatches or purloins bodies, newly buried, to sell them to surgeons for dissection. By a play on the words, a bum-bailiff was so called, because his duty was to snatch or capture the body of a delinquent.

⁂ The first instance of body-snatching on record was in 1777. It was the body of Mrs. Jane Sainsbury from the burial ground near Gray’s Inn Lane. The men, being convicted, were imprisoned for six months.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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