Gruesome goings on in Smalley churchyard?

As befits this spooky time of year a rather intriguing and potentially gruesome find was uncovered this week by a member of Derbyshire Family History Society.  Whilst transcribing a burial register for the Parish of Smalley they came across this entry from December 1825 which records the burial of Allice Kerry from Heanor.  Nothing out of the ordinary there until you read the note added in pencil to the margin “Her body was stolen from the Churchyard”.  Who took Allice’s body and for what reason?  We may never know…..and perhaps that’s for the best!

3 thoughts on “Gruesome goings on in Smalley churchyard?

  1. You wonder about the mechanics of it all. Did they go around the churchyards in the area looking for fresh graves or did they have spies in likely parishes? Presumably the more remote from the village the churchyard was the better?

    Seems rather a shame for the Kerry family though. In such a small community it would have been the subject of a lot of gossip.

  2. You are entirely welcome Underworld Archaeology, I’m delighted to hear this information is of interest and will prove useful to your research! We look forward to seeing you at the record office.

  3. *Very* useful, thank you! I research death and burial in and around Derby in the 17th – early 20th centuries, and am especially interested in evidence for ‘Body Snatching’. This is great information (I’ve not yet had chance to get to the Smalley parish records), and seems likely to represent such ‘resurrectionist’ activities, considering the date – a period of booming trade for grave robbers (for any readers who might not know:) who sold cadavers to surgeons & anatomy schools (this corpse may have ended up in Nottingham or Derby, though bodies were sometimes transported long distances).
    Will certainly follow-up ASAP, and start adding graves in the churchyard to my photographic collection of Derbyshire deceased (
    Thanks again for highlighting this fabulous find!

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