Report of a General Scheme for Extramural Sepulture. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty.
London: Printed by W. Clowes… .1850
8vo, 172 pages, one folding coloured map. Library binding of quarter red morocco and red cloth sides, label on front endpaper. Minor damage to title by a shelf label removing first two letters of “Presented”, a few faint library stamps, margins cut rather close.
FIRST EDITION of the report that changed the practice of burial in England. “From 1840 to 1855 attention was repeatedly called to the condition of the London churchyards… The vaults under the pavement of the churches, and the small spaces of open ground surrounding them, were crammed with coffins. In many of the buildings the air was so tainted with the products of corruption as to be a direct and palpable source of disease and death to those who frequented them.… In all the large towns the evil prevailed in a greater or less degree…and…the churchyards were finally closed by the act of 1855, and the cemeteries which now occupy a large extent of ground to the north, south, east and west [of London] became henceforth the burial places of the metropolis… Burial within the limits of cities and towns is now almost everywhere abolished…” (Ency. Brit., III, 659). John Sutherland (1808–1891) was one of the great figures in public health of the nineteenth century. He conducted a special inquiry into the cholera epidemic of 1848–1849, which prompted this Report, and was the head of a commission sent to foreign countries to enquire into the law and practice of burial. Not a good copy, but an important document that is very scarce.