The medical journal The Lancet in its edition dated December the 18th, 1858, published a letter from Dr. Richard Bird Mason, of Bridge Street Nuneaton, concerning a young girl who had come extremely close to being buried alive:-
THE “DEATH” OF MISS AMELIA HINCKS
“In August, 1858, I was requested to visit Miss Amelia Hincks, aged twelve years and nine months, daughter of a harness-maker, and residing with her parents in Bridge Street, Nuneaton.
She was supposed to be suffering from pulmonary consumption.
On October 18, about half-past three a.m., she apparently died.
She is said to have groaned heavily, waved her hands (which was a promised sign for her mother to know that the hour of her departure was come), turned her head a little to the light, dropped her jaw, and died.
PREPARED FOR BURIAL
In about half an hour after her supposed departure she was washed, and attired in clean linen, the jaw was tied by a white handkerchief, penny-pieces laid over her eyes, her hands, semi-clenched, placed by her side, and her feet tied together by a piece of tape.
She was then carried into another room, laid on a sofa, and covered over with a sheet.
She appeared stiff and cold, two large books were placed on her feet, and I have no doubt she was considered to be a sweet corpse.
HER GRANDFATHER’S DOUBTS
About nine a.m., the grandfather of the supposed dead went into the death-chamber to give a last kiss to his grandchild, when he fancied he saw a convulsive movement of the eyelid, he having raised one of the coins.
He communicated this fact to the parents and mourning friends, but they ridiculed the old man’s statement, and said the movement of the eyelids was owing to the nerves working after death.
Their theory, however, did not satisfy the experienced man of eighty years, and he could not reconcile himself to her death.
THE DOCTOR SENT FOR
As soon as I reached home, after having been out in the country all night, I was requested to see the child, to satisfy the old man that she was really dead.
About half-past ten a.m. I called; and immediately on my entrance into the chamber I perceived a tremulous condition of the eyelids, such as we frequently see in hysterical patients.
The penny-pieces had been removed by the grandfather.
HER HEART WAS BEATING
I placed a stethoscope over the region of the heart, and found that organ performing its functions perfectly and with tolerable force.
I then felt for a radial pulse, which was easily detected, beating feebly, about seventy-five per minute.
The legs and arms were stiff and cold, and the capillary circulation was so congested as at first sight to resemble incipient decomposition.
SHE WAS NOT DEAD
I carefully watched the chest, which heaved quietly but almost imperceptibly; and immediately unbandaged the maiden, and informed her mourning parents that she was not dead.
Imagine their consternation! The passing-bell had rung, the shutters were closed, the undertaker was on his way to measure her for her coffin, and other necessary preparations were being made for her interment.”
SHE KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING
The Lancet explained how:-
“The body was then removed to a warm room, and gradually the returning signs of animation became unequivocal.
When speech was restored, the girl described many things which had taken place since her supposed death.
She knew who had closed her eyes and placed the coppers thereon. She also heard the order given for her coffin, and could repeat the various remarks made over her as she lay in her death-clothes.
A CATALETIC TRANCE
She refused food, though in a state of extreme debility.
She has since shown symptoms of mania, and is now said to have relapsed into a semi-cataleptic condition.
The parents are ‘creditable people,’ and there is no apparent ruse in this unusually romantic history, which is causing considerable excitement in Nuneaton and its neighbourhood.”
MY RECENT VIDEO
You can hear of more cases by watching our recent YouTube video on people who were buried alive.