Woman gets killer relative’s body after 189 years

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

LONDON - A woman in Britain has won the legal battle to bury her relative’s body, which had been put on display at a university for 189 years after the person was hanged for a murder.

Mary Halliwell while researching her family tree discovered the skeleton displayed in Bristol University.

She launched a battle to be declared the legal owner of the remains of Jon Horwood, the son of her great-great-great grandfather’s brother, who was executed after being convicted of murdering his ex-beloved in 1821, The Sun reported.

Mary, 67, wants to give the body a proper burial. She said: “It will give me peace of mind.”

Horwood was sentenced to death for killing Eliza Balsom who died from a head injury after Horwood lobed a pebble at her when he found her with another boy. Three days after his 18th birthday, Horwood was hanged above the gates of New Bristol Gaol.

Richard Smith, the surgeon who treated Eliza, refused to hand the boy’s body to his family. He skinned the corpse as he performed a dissection in front of 80 gawpers at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

The surgeon kept the skeleton on show at his house - with the hangman’s noose. He used the skin to bind a book about the case after having it tanned.

Mary said: “I’m angry a human being could do something so barbaric to another person.”

The “Book of Skin” is currently kept at the Bristol Records Office.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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