18th Century Giant Should Be Buried
2011 12 23

From: CTV.ca / AP

The skeleton of an 18th-century celebrity nicknamed the ’Irish Giant’ should be removed from a museum and buried at sea in keeping with his last wishes, two experts have argued, reviving a debate about the ethics of handling human remains.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, medical ethicist Len Doyal and legal researcher Thomas Muinzer said there is no good scientific reason to display the skeleton of Charles Byrne, who died in 1783, and a strong moral case against it.

"What has been done cannot be undone but it can be morally rectified," the two men wrote. "Surely it is time to respect the memory and reputation of Byrne."


In this undated image provided by the Royal College of Surgeons, the skeleton, left, of Charles Byrne, nicknamed ’The Irish Giant,’ who stood about 7 feet, 7 inches tall, and died in 1783 aged 22, is displayed in London’s Hunterian Museum. (AP Photo/Royal College of Surgeons)

Byrne stood about 7 feet, 7 inches tall as a result of acromegaly, a condition caused when a tumor on the pituitary gland stimulates an excess of growth hormone.

He became a celebrity in 18th-century London as the star turn in a museum of curiosities but died aged just 22.

Despite Byrne’s wish to be buried at sea, his body was purchased by pioneering surgeon and anatomist John Hunter, who often hired grave robbers to supply him with corpses. For two centuries Byrne’s skeleton has been on display at the Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum in London.

Doyal, of London’s Queen Mary University, and Muinzer, of Queen’s University Belfast, said that while Byrne’s skeleton had been of use to medical research, that was no reason to put it on public display.

"Moreover, now that Byrne’s DNA has been extracted, it can be used in further research," they wrote.

The museum’s director, Sam Alberti, conceded Thursday there was a "powerful moral argument" for respecting Byrne’s wishes. But he said that was outweighed by the skeleton’s continuing benefit to medical research.

"Patients with the condition today live long and much happier lives," Alberti said - in part due to knowledge gleaned from Byrne’s DNA.

Byrne’s skeleton has helped scientists identify several dozen people in Ireland with the same genetic mutation - all believed to be related to Byrne through a common ancestor.

One of them, Brendan Holland, says the skeleton should remain -- and he thinks Byrne would agree.

"What would his view be if he knew what we know now?" Holland said in a video for the British Medical Journal website. "He would almost certainly agree with my view that this is the right thing to do today."

Article from: ctv.ca





Charles Byrne (1761 – 1783), also known as Charles O’Brien or "The Irish Giant", was a man regarded as a curiosity or freak in London in the 1780s. Byrne’s exact height is of some conjecture, but most accounts refer to him as from 2.48 m (8 ft 2 in) to 2.54 m (8 ft 4 in) tall; however, skeletal evidence places him at just over 2.31 m (7 ft 7 in).

He soon became the toast of the town; a 6 May 1782 newspaper report bears out: "However striking a curiosity may be, there is generally some difficulty in engaging the attention of the public; but even this was not the case with the modern living Colossus, or wonderful Irish Giant."

Fame and wealth soon overtook Byrne, and he took to drinking excessively. According to newspaper reports he was out drinking when his pocket was picked of his 700-pound life savings. Inconsolable, he tried to drown his sorrows in drink and died in June 1783, in his apartment on Cockspurstreet, Charing Cross, at the age of twenty-two.

It was rumoured that he was so afraid that doctors would dissect his corpse that on his deathbed he requested to be buried at sea. Against his wishes, Byrne’s corpse was purchased by John Hunter for five hundred pounds (2011: £50,000) , and his 2.31-m (7 ft 7 in) skeleton now resides in the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

One journal allegedly states that on his death, "The whole tribe of surgeons put in a claim for the poor departed Irishman and surrounded his house just as harpooners would an enormous whale."
Source: Wikipedia


The skeleton of the seven and a half foot (231cm) tall "Irish Giant" is visible in the middle of this image. (Wikipedia)







Video from: YouTube.com








Related Articles
Giant Crocodile Caught Alive in Philippines (Video)
Giant rat kills predators with poisonous hair
Templar Cross on Anunnaki King Ninurta


Latest News from our Front Page

Whistleblower: Margaret Thatcher knew all about underage sex ring
2014 07 29
Margaret Thatcher was told about alleged sex parties with under-age boys held by one of her closest aides claims her former personal bodyguard. Barry Strevens, who worked as the prime minister’s personal bodyguard, said that he passed on allegations about her confidant Sir Peter Morrison. The former senior police officer said that Lady Thatcher appointed Sir Peter deputy party chairman of the ...
The Absurd, Bureaucratic Hell That Is the American Police State
2014 07 29
“The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet ...
Australian Government Pushing ‘Internet Tax’ To Pay For NSA Style Spying
2014 07 29
Forcing private companies to become mass surveillance hubs The Australian government is pushing to implement a ”surveillance tax” on the people of the country in order to pay for a mandate that would see communications companies retaining data on customers for two years. In a disturbing development that should serve as a warning to Americans, the Australian Attorney-General admitted that the surveillance ...
Japanese leader proposes first-ever ’Robot Olympics’
2014 07 29
Nations of the world will be sending their most talented athletes to Tokyo in 2020 for the Olympic Games – but if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gets his way, they might also be pitting robots against each other. Abe announced his vision while touring robotics factories in Tokyo and Saitama, which is located just north of the country’s capital. According ...
Israel Student Union Set Up “War Room” to Sell Gaza Massacre on Facebook
2014 07 29
This article was published on July 14, 2014. The death toll in Gaza as of today, July 23, 2014, reaches 678 according to Al-Akhbar. Students at the IDC Herzliya “war room,” seen here in a screenshot, focus on posting propaganda justifying Israel’s attack on Gaza on Facebook. As the death toll from Israel’s savage bombardment of Gaza continues to climb, Israel has ...
More News »