1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cremation

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CREMATION (Lat. cremare, to burn), the burning of human corpses. This method of disposal of the dead may be said to have been the general practice of the ancient world, with the important exceptions of Egypt, where bodies were embalmed, Judaea, where they were buried in sepulchres, and China, where they were buried in the earth. In Greece, for instance, so well ascertained was the law that only suicides, unteethed children, and persons struck by lightning were denied the right to be burned. At Rome, one of the XII. Tables said, “Hominem mortuum in urbe ne sepelito, neve urito”; and in fact, from the close of the republic to the end of the 4th Christian century, burning on the pyre or rogus was the general rule.[1] Whether in any of these cases cremation was adopted or rejected for sanitary or for superstitious reasons, it is difficult to say. Embalming would probably not succeed in climates less warm and dry than the Egyptian. The scarcity of fuel might also be a consideration. The Chinese are influenced by the doctrine of Feng-Shui, or incomprehensible wind water; they must have a properly placed grave in their own land, and with this view their corpses are sent home from long distances abroad. Even the Jews used cremation in the vale of Tophet when a plague came; and the modern Jews of Berlin and the Spanish and Portuguese Jews at Mile End cemetery were among the first to welcome the lately revived process. Probably also, some nations had religious objections to the pollution of the sacred principle of fire, and therefore practised exposure, suspension, throwing into the sea, cave-burial, desiccation or envelopment.[2] Some at least of these methods must obviously have been suggested simply by the readiest means at hand. Cremation is still practised over a great part of Asia and America, but not always in the same form. Thus, the ashes may be stored in urns, or buried in the earth, or thrown to the wind, or (as among the Digger Indians) smeared with gum on the heads of the mourners. In one case the three processes of embalming, burning and burying are gone through; and in another, if a member of the tribe die at a great distance from home, some of his money and clothes are nevertheless burned by the family. As food, weapons, &c., are sometimes buried with the body, so they are sometimes burned with the body, the whole ashes being collected.[3] The Siamese have a singular institution, according to which, before burning, the embalmed body lies in a temple for a period determined by the rank of the dead man,—the king for six months, and so downwards. If the poor relatives cannot afford fuel and the other necessary preparations, they bury the body, but exhume it for burning when an opportunity occurs.

There can be little doubt that the practice of cremation in modern Europe was at first stopped, and has since been prevented in great measure, by the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body; partly also by the notion that the Christian’s body was redeemed and purified.[4] Some clergymen, however, as the late Mr Haweis in his Ashes to Ashes, a Cremation Prelude (London, 1874), have been prominent in favour of cremation. The objection of the clergy was disposed of by the philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury when he asked, “What would in such a case become of the blessed martyrs?” The very general practice of burying bodies in the precincts of a church in order that the dead might take benefit from the prayers of persons resorting to the church, and the religious ceremony which precedes both European burials and Asiatic cremations, have given the question a religious aspect. It is, however, in the ultimate resort, really a sanitary one. The disgusting results of pit-burial made cemeteries necessary. But cemeteries are equally liable to overcrowding, and are often nearer to inhabited houses than the old churchyards. It is possible, no doubt, to make a cemetery safe approximately by selecting a soil which is dry, close and porous, by careful drainage, and by rigid enforcement of the rules prescribing a certain depth (8 to 10 ft.) and a certain superficies (4 yds.) for graves. But a great mass of sanitary objections may be brought against even recent cemeteries in various countries. A dense clay, the best soil for preventing the levitation of gas, is the worst for the process of decomposition. The danger is strikingly illustrated in the careful planting of trees and shrubs to absorb the carbonic acid. Vault-burial in metallic coffins, even when sawdust charcoal is used, is still more dangerous than ordinary burial. It must also be remembered that the cemetery system can only be temporary. The soil is gradually filled with bones; houses crowd round; the law itself permits the reopening of graves at the expiry of fourteen years. We shall not, indeed, as Browne says, “be knaved out of our graves to have our skulls made drinking bowls and our bones turned into pipes!” But on this ground of sentiment cremation would certainly prevent any interruption of that “sweet sleep and calm rest” which the old prayer that the earth might lie lightly has associated with the grave. And in the meantime we should escape the horror of putrefaction and of the “small cold worm that fretteth the enshrouded form.”

In Europe Christian burial was long associated entirely with the ordinary practice of committing the corpse to the grave. But in the middle of the 19th century many distinguished physicians and chemists, especially in Italy, began prominently to advocate cremation. In 1874, a congress called to consider the matter at Milan resolved to petition the Chamber of Deputies for a clause in the new sanitary code, permitting cremation under the supervision of the syndics of the commune. In Switzerland Dr Vegmann Ercolani was the champion of the cause (see his Cremation the most Rational Method of Disposing of the Dead, 4th ed., Zurich, 1874). So long ago as 1797 cremation was seriously discussed by the French Assembly under the Directory, and the events of the Franco-Prussian War again brought the subject under the notice of the medical press and the sanitary authorities. The military experiments at Sédan, Chalons and Metz, of burying large numbers of bodies with quicklime, or pitch and straw, were not successful, but very dangerous. The matter was considered by the municipal council of Paris in connexion with the new cemetery at Méry-sur-Oise; and the prefect of the Seine in 1874 sent a circular asking information to all the cremation societies in Europe. In Britain the subject had slumbered for two centuries, since in 1658 Sir Thomas Browne published his quaint Hydriotaphia, or Urn-burial, which was mainly founded on the De funere Romanorum of the learned Kirchmannus. In 1817 Dr J. Jamieson gave a sketch of the “Origin of Cremation” (Proc. Royal Soc. Edin., 1817), and for many years prior to 1874 Dr Lord, medical officer of health for Hampstead, continued to urge the practical necessity for the introduction of the system.

It was Sir Henry Thompson, however, who first brought the question prominently before the public. Thompson’s problem was—“Given a dead body, to resolve it into carbonic acid, water and ammonia, rapidly, safely and not unpleasantly.” To solve this problem, experiments were made by Dr Polli at the Milan gas works, fully described in Dr Pietra Santa’s book, La Crémation des morts en France et à l’étranger, and by Professor Brunetti, who exhibited an apparatus at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873, and who stated his results in La Cremazione dei cadaveri (Padua, 1873). Polli obtained complete incineration or calcination of dogs by the use of coal-gas mixed with atmospheric air, applied to a cylindrical retort of refracting clay, so as to consume the gaseous products of combustion. The process was complete in two hours, and the ashes weighed about 5% of the weight before cremation. Brunetti used an oblong furnace of refracting brick with side-doors to regulate the draught, and above a cast-iron dome with movable shutters. The body was placed on a metallic plate suspended on iron wire. The gas generated escaped by the shutters, and in two hours carbonization was complete. The heat was then raised and concentrated, and at the end of four hours the operation was over; 180 ℔ of wood costing 2s. 4d. sterling was burned. In a reverberating furnace used by Sir Henry Thompson a body, weighing 144 ℔, was reduced in fifty minutes to about 4 ℔ of lime dust. The noxious gases, which were undoubtedly produced during the first five minutes of combustion, passed through a flue into a second furnace and were entirely consumed. In the ordinary Siemens regenerative furnace (which was adapted by Reclam in Germany for cremation, and also by Sir Henry Thompson) only the hot-blast was used, the body supplying hydrogen and carbon; or a stream of heated hydrocarbon mixed with heated air was sent from a gasometer supplied with coal, charcoal, peat or wood,—the brick or iron-cased chamber being thus heated to a high degree before cremation begins.

Steps were at once taken to form an English society to promote the practice of cremation. A declaration of its objects was drawn up and signed on the 13th January 1874 by the following persons—Shirley Brooks, William Eassie, Ernest Hart, the Rev. H. R. Haweis, G. H. Hawkins, John Cordy Jeaffreson, F. Lehmann, C. F. Lord, W. Shaen, A. Strahan, (Sir) Henry Thompson, Major Vaughan, Rev. C. Voysey and (Sir) T. Spencer Wells; and they frequently met to consider the necessary steps in order to attain their object. The laws and regulations having been thoroughly discussed, the membership of the society was constituted by an annual contribution for expenses, and a subscription to the following declaration:—

“We disapprove the present custom of burying the dead, and desire to substitute some mode which shall rapidly resolve the body into its component elements by a process which cannot offend the living, and shall render the remains absolutely innocuous. Until some better method is devised, we desire to adopt that usually known as cremation.”

Finally, on 29th April a meeting was held, a council was formed, and Sir H. Thompson was elected president and chairman. Mr Eassie (who in 1875 published a valuable work on Cremation of the Dead) was at the same time appointed honorary secretary.[5] In 1875 the following were added:—Mrs Rose Mary Crawshay, Mr Higford Burr, Rev. J. Long, Mr W. Robinson and the Rev. Brooke Lambert. Subsequently followed Lord Bramwell, Sir Chas. Cameron, Dr Farquharson, Sir Douglas Galton, Lord Playfair, Mr Martin Ridley Smith, Mr James A. Budgett, Mr Edmund Yates, Mr J. S. Fletcher, Mr J. C. Swinburne-Hanham, the duke of Westminster (on Lord Bramwell’s death), and Sir Arthur Arnold. These may be considered the pioneers of the movement for reform.

On account of difficulties and prejudices[6] the council was unable to purchase a freehold until 1878, when an acre was obtained at Woking, not far distant from the cemetery. At this time the furnace employed by Professor Gorini of Lodi, Italy, appeared to be the best for working with on a small scale; and he was invited to visit England to superintend its erection. This was completed in 1879, and the body of a horse was cremated rapidly and completely without any smoke or effluvia from the chimney. No sooner was this successful step taken than the president received a communication from the Home Office, which resulted in a personal interview with the home secretary; the issue of which was that if the society desired to avoid direct hostile action, an assurance must be given that no cremation should be attempted without leave first obtained from the minister. This of course was given, no further building took place, and the society’s labours were confined to employing means to diffuse information on the subject. Sir Spencer Wells brought it before the annual meeting of the British Medical Association in 1880, when a petition to the home secretary for permission to adopt cremation was largely signed by the leading men in town and country, but without any immediate result. The next important development was an application to the council in 1882, by Captain Hanham in Dorsetshire, to undertake the cremation of two deceased relatives who had left express instructions to that effect. The home secretary was applied to, and refused. The bodies were preserved, and Captain Hanham erected a crematorium on his estate, and the cremation took place there. He himself, dying a year later, was cremated also; in both cases the result was attained under the supervision of Mr J. C. Swinburne-Hanham, who succeeded Mr Eassie in 1888 as honorary secretary to the society. The government took no notice. But in 1883 a cremation was performed in Wales by a man on the body of his child, and legal proceedings were taken against him. Mr Justice Stephen, in February 1884, delivered his well-known judgment at the Assizes there, declaring cremation to be a legal procedure, provided no nuisance were caused thereby to others. The council of the society at once declared themselves absolved from their promise to the Home Office, and publicly offered to perform cremation, laying down strict rules for careful inquiry into the cause of death in every case. They stated that they were fully aware that the chief practical objection to cremation was that it removed traces of poison or violence which might have caused death. Declining to trust the very imperfect statement generally made respecting the cause of death in the ordinary death certificate (unless a coroner’s inquest had been held), they adopted a system of very stringent inquiry, the result of which in each case was to be submitted to the president, to be investigated and approved by him before cremation could take place, with the right to decline or require an inquest if he thought proper; and this course has been followed ever since the first cremation.

It was on 26th March 1885 that the first cremation at Woking took place, the subject being a lady.[7] In 1888 it became necessary, nearly 100 bodies having been by this date cremated, to build a large hall for religious service, as well as waiting-rooms, in connexion with the crematorium there. The dukes of Bedford and Westminster headed the appeal for funds, each with £105. The former (the 9th duke of Bedford) especially took great interest in the progress of the society, and offered to furnish further donations to any extent necessary. During the next two years he generously defrayed costs to the amount of £3500, and built a smaller crematorium adjacent for himself and family. The latter building was first used on the 18th of January 1891, a few days after the duke’s own death. The number of cremations slowly increased year by year, and the total at the end of 1900 was 1824. Many of these were persons of distinction—by rank, or by attainments in art, literature and science, or in public life.

The council next turned their attention to the need for a national system of death certification, to be enforced by law as an essential and much-needed reform in connexion with cremation. On the 6th of January 1893 the duke Death certification.of Westminster introduced a deputation to the secretary of state for the home department, Mr Asquith, and the president of the Cremation Society opened the case, showing that no less than 7% of the burials in England took place without any certificate, while in some districts it was far greater. In consequence of this the home secretary appointed a select committee of the House of Commons, which was presided over by Sir Walter Foster, of the Local Government Board, to “inquire into the sufficiency of the existing law as to the disposal of the dead ... and especially for detecting the causes of death due to poison, violence, and criminal neglect.” After a prolonged inquiry and careful consideration of the evidence, a full report and conclusions drawn therefrom were unanimously agreed to, and published as a blue-book in the autumn of 1893.[8]

The following conclusions are quoted from this volume:—Page iii. “So far as affording a record of the true cause of death and the detection of it in cases where death may have been due to violence, poison, or where criminal neglect is concerned, the class of certified deaths leaves much to be desired.” Page iv. Certification is extremely important as a deterrent of crime, and numerous proofs are given at length in support of the statement.... “Contrast this class with that of uncertified deaths, when the result is such as to force upon your Committee the conviction that vastly more deaths occur annually from foul play and criminal neglect than the law recognizes.” Page vii. Great uncertainty in resorting to the coroner’s court, and want of system in connexion with the practice of it, are affirmed to exist. Page x. It is stated that the opportunity for perpetrating crime is great in the considerable class of uncertified cases ... “in short, the existing procedure plays into the hands of the criminal classes.” “Your Committee are much impressed with the serious possibilities implied in a system which permits death and burial to take place without the production of satisfactory medical evidence of the cause of death.” Page xii. “Your Committee have arrived at the conclusion that the appointment of medical officials, who should investigate all cases of death which are not certified by a medical practitioner in attendance, is a proposal which deserves their support.”

In considering cremation, the committee reported as follows:—Page xxii. “Your Committee are of opinion that there is only one question in connexion with this method of disposing of a dead body to which it is necessary for them to refer. That question is the supposed danger to the community arising from the fact that with the destruction of the body the possibility of obtaining evidence of the cause of death by post-mortem examination also disappears.” The mode of proceeding adopted by the Cremation Society of England having been described, “your Committee are of opinion that with the precautions adopted in connexion with cremation, as carried out by the Cremation Society, there is little probability that cases of crime would escape detection, but inasmuch as these precautions are purely voluntary, your Committee consider that in the interests of public safety such regulations should be enforced by law.”

The Cremation Society felt that this report much strengthened the case for legislation amending the law of death certification. In August 1894 the president of the society laid the results of the select committee before the British Medical Association at Bristol, and a unanimous vote was obtained in favour of the suggestions made by it. In November a second deputation waited on Mr Asquith, in which the president of the society begged him to carry out the system recommended. The home secretary replied that the business belonged to the department of the Local Government Board, and that it was already dealing with the question and bringing it to a satisfactory solution. Soon afterwards, however, the government changed, other questions became pressing and further consideration of the subject was postponed.

With reference to the recommendations of the select committee before mentioned, the regulations necessary for registration of death and the disposal of the dead may be outlined as follows:— (1) That no body should be buried, cremated, or otherwise disposed of without a medical certificate of death signed, after personal knowledge and observation, or by information obtained after investigation made by a qualified medical officer appointed for the purpose. (2) A qualified medical man should be appointed as official certifier in every parish, or district of neighbouring parishes, his duty being to inquire into all cases of death and report the cause in writing, together with such other details as may be deemed necessary. This would naturally fall within the duties of the medical officer of health for the district, and registration should be made at his office. (3) If the circumstances of death obviously demand a coroner’s inquest, the case should be transferred to his court and the cause determined, with or without autopsy. If there appears to be no ground for holding an inquest, and autopsy be necessary to the furnishing of a certificate, the official certifier should make it, and state the result in his report. (4) No person or company should be henceforth permitted to construct or use an apparatus for cremating human bodies without license from the Local Government Board or other authority. (5) No crematory should be so employed unless the site, construction, and system of management have been approved after survey by an officer appointed by government for the purpose. But the licence to construct or use a crematory should not be withheld if guarantees are given that the conditions required are or will be complied with. All such crematories to be subject at all times to inspection by an officer appointed by the government. (6) The burning of a human body, otherwise than in an officially recognized crematory, should be illegal, and punishable by penalty. (7) No human body should be cremated unless the official examiner added the words “Cremation permitted.” This he should be bound to do if, after due inquiry, he can certify that the deceased has died from natural causes, and not from ill-treatment, poison or violence.

The Cremation Act 1902 (2 Ed. VII. ch. 8), and the regulations[9] made thereunder by the home secretary, have since given legislative effect to some of the foregoing recommendations and have laid down a code of laws applicable and binding where cremation is resorted to. But the amendments in the law of death certification generally, so long pressed for by the Cremation Society of England and recommended by the select committee, are none the less necessary.

Undoubtedly in populous communities and in crowded districts the burial of dead bodies is liable to be a source of danger to the living. As early as 1840 a commission had been appointed, including some of the earliest authorities on sanitary science,—namely, Drs Southwood Smith, Chadwick, Milroy, Sutherland, Waller Lewis and others,—to conduct a searching inquiry into the state of the burial-grounds of London and large provincial towns. By the report[10] the existence of such a danger was strikingly demonstrated, and intramural interments were in consequence made illegal. The advocates of burial then declared that interment in certain light soils would safely and efficiently decompose the putrefying elements which begin to be developed the moment death takes place, and which rapidly become dangerous to the living, still more so in the case of deaths from contagious disease. But these light dry soils and elevated spots are precisely those best adapted for human habitation; to say nothing of their value for food-production. Granted the efficiency of such burial, it only effects in the course of a few years what exposure to a high temperature accomplishes with absolute safety in an hour. In a densely populated country the struggle between the claims of the dead and the living to occupy the choicest sites becomes a serious matter. All decaying animal remains give off effluvia—gases—which are transferred through the medium of the atmosphere to become converted into vegetable growth of some kind—trees, crops, garden produce, grass, &c. Every plant absorbs these gases by its leaves, each one of which is provided with hundreds of stomata—open mouths—by which they fix or utilize the carbon to form woody fibre, and give off free oxygen to the atmosphere. Thus it is that the air we breathe is kept pure by the constant interaction between the animal and vegetable kingdoms. It may be taken as certain that the gaseous products arising from a cremated body—amounting, although invisible, to no less than 97% of its weight, 3% only remaining as solids, in the form of a pure white ash—become in the course of a few hours integral and active elements in some form of vegetable life. The result of this reasoning has been that, by slow degrees, crematoria have been constructed at many of the populous cities in Great Britain and abroad (see Statistics below).

The subject of employing cremation for the bodies of those who die of contagious disease is a most important one. Sir H. Thompson advocated this course in a paper read before the International Congress of Hygiene held in London in 1891; and a resolution strongly approving the practice was carried unanimously at a large meeting of experts and medical officers of health. Such diseases are small-pox, scarlet fever, diphtheria, consumption, malignant cholera, enteric, relapsing and puerperal fevers, the annual number of deaths from which in the United Kingdom is upwards of 80,000. Complete disinfection takes place by means of the high temperature to which the body is exposed. At the present day it is compulsory to report any case in the foregoing list, whenever it occurs, to the medical officer of health for the district; and it is customary to disinfect the rooms themselves, as well as the clothes and furniture used by the patient if the case be fatal; but the body, which is the source and origin of the evil, and is itself loaded with the germs of a specific poison, is left to the chances which attach to its preservation in that condition, when buried in a fit or unfit soil or situation.

The process of preparing a body for cremation requires a brief notice. The plan generally adopted is to place it (in the usual shroud) in a light pine shell, discarding all heavy oak or other coffin, and to introduce it into the furnace in that manner. Thus there is no handling or exposure of the body after it reaches the crematorium. The type of furnace in general use is on the reverberatory principle, the body being consumed in a separate chamber heated to over 2000° Fahr. by a coke fire. In a few instances a furnace burning ordinary illuminating gas instead of coke is in use.  (H. Th.) 

Statistics.—The following statistics show the history of modern cremation and its progress at home and abroad:—

Foreign Countries.—The first experiment in Italy was made by Brunetti in 1869, his second and third in 1870. Gorini and Polli published their first cases in 1872. Brunetti exhibited his at Vienna in 1873. All were performed in the open air. The next in Europe was a single case at Breslau in 1874. Soon after, an English lady was cremated in a closed apparatus (Siemens) at Dresden. The next cremation in a closed receptacle took place at Milan in 1876. In the same year a Cremation Society was formed, a handsome building was erected, and two Gorini furnaces were at work in 1880. In 1899 the total number of cremations was 1355. In Italy 28 crematoria exist, viz. at Alessandria, Asti, Bologna, Bra, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Florence, Genoa, Leghorn, Lodi, Mantua, Milan, Modena, Novara, Padua, Perugia, Pisa, Pistoia, Rome, San Remo, Siena, Spezia, Turin, Udine, Verona and Venice. The total number of cremations in Italy in 1906 was 440.

In Germany the first crematorium was erected at Gotha; it was opened in 1878, and the total cremations down to September 1st, 1907, numbered 4584. At Ohlsdorf, Hamburg, the crematorium was opened in November 1892, and the total cremations down to September 1st, 1907, numbered 2521. At Heidelberg the crematorium was opened in 1891, and the total cremations down to September 1st, 1907, numbered 1741. Throughout the German empire there are, in addition to the above, crematoria at Bremen, Eisenach, Jena, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Mainz, Offenbach, Heilbronn, Ulm, Chemnitz and Stuttgart, besides over eighty societies for promoting cremation. The total number of cremations which took place in Germany in 1906 was 2057, making a total of 13,614 down to September 1st, 1907.

Other societies exist in Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. At the crematorium at Copenhagen 77 bodies were cremated in 1906, the total being 500. The Stockholm crematorium was opened in October 1887, and the cremations in 1906 numbered 56. The Gothenburg crematorium (also in Sweden) was opened in January 1890, and the cremations there in 1906 were 14. Switzerland has four crematoria, viz. at Basel, Geneva, Zurich and St Gallen—524 cremations took place in that country in 1906.

In Paris a cremation society was founded in 1880, and in 1886–1887 a large crematorium was constructed by the municipal council at Père Lachaise, containing three Gorini furnaces. It was first used in October 1887 for two men who died of small-pox. The demand became large; an improved furnace was soon devised, the unclaimed bodies at the hospitals and the remains at the dissecting rooms being cremated there, besides a large number of embryos. In 1906 the number, including the last-named class, was 6906. The total number of incinerations at Père Lachaise down to December 31st, 1906 (including both classes) was 86,962; but the employment of cremation for the purposes named has deterred a resort to it by many. Had a separate establishment been organized for the public, its success would have been greater. A magnificent edifice has been constructed by the municipality of Paris for the conservation of the ashes of persons who have been cremated. Crematoria have been established also at Rouen, Rheims and Marseilles, and the construction of crematoria in other of the great provincial centres of France was in contemplation.

In Buenos Aires, since 1844, the bodies of all persons dying of contagious disease are cremated, and there is also a separate establishment for the use of the public.

At Tokio in Japan no fewer than 22 crematoria exist, and about an equal number of cremations and burials in earth take place.

At Calcutta a crematorium was opened in 1906.

At Montreal, Canada, there is a crematorium which began operations in 1902, and completed 44 cremations up to the 31st of December 1905.

United States.—There were 33 crematoria in the United States on September 1st, 1907. At Fresh Pond, New York, erected in 1885, the total number of cremations to December 31st, 1906, being 8514. At Buffalo, N.Y., the first cremation taking place in 1885, and the total number down to December 31st, 1905, being 787. At Troy (Earl Crematorium), N. Y., the first cremation taking place in 1890, and the total number down to December 31st, 1905, 249. At Swinburne Island, N.Y., cremations beginning in 1890, total to December 31st, 1905, 123. At Waterville, N.Y., cremations beginning in 1893, total to December 31st, 1906, 62. At St Louis, Missouri, cremations beginning in 1888, total to September 1st, 1907, 2151. At Philadelphia, Penn., cremations beginning in 1888, total to September 1st, 1907, 1685. At San Francisco, Cal., “Odd Fellows,” opened in 1895, total to December 31st, 1906, 6151. Also at San Francisco, Cal., “Cypress Lawn,” opened in 1893, total to December 31st, 1905, 1492. At Los Angeles, Cal., No. 1, Rosedale, opened in 1887, total to December 31st, 1905, 866; No. 2, Evergreen, opened in 1902, total to December 31st, 1905, 413; No. 3, Gower Street, opened in 1907 with 54 down to September 1st. At Boston, Mass., opened in 1893, total to September 1st, 1907, 2493. At Cincinnati, Ohio, opened in 1887, total to September 1st, 1907, 1245. At Chicago, opened in 1893, total to September 1st, 1907, 2188. At Detroit, Michigan, opened in 1887, total to December 31st, 1905, 689. At Pittsburg, Penn., opened in 1886, total to September 1st, 1907, 377. At Baltimore, opened in 1889, total to December 31st, 1905, 263. At Lancaster, Penn., opened in 1884, total to December 31st, 1906, 106. At Davenport, Iowa, opened in 1891, total to September 1st, 1907, 331. At Milwaukee, opened in 1896, total to October 1905, 442. At Washington, opened in 1897, total to December 31st, 1905, 275. The Le Moyne (Washington, Pa.) crematory, the first in the United States, was erected by Dr F. Julius le Moyne in 1876, for private use. The first cremation was that of the baron de Palin, of New York, December 6th, 1876. Dr F. Julius le Moyne died October 1879, and his remains were cremated in his own crematory. Total number of cremations (to 1907) 41. At Pasadena, Cal., opened in 1895, total to September 1st, 1907, 491. At St. Paul, Minn., opened in 1897, total to December 31st, 1905, 145. At Fort Wayne, Ind., opened in 1897, total to September 1st, 1907, 41. At Cambridge, Mass., opened in 1900, total to September 1st, 1907, 1090. At Cleveland, Ohio, opened in 1901, total to December 31st, 1905, 283. At Denver, Col., opened in 1904, total to December 31st, 1905, 109. At Indianapolis, opened in 1904, total to December 31st, 1905, 32. At Oakland, Cal., opened in 1902, total to September 1st, 1907, 2196. At Portland, Ore., opened in 1901, total to December 31st, 1905, 327. At Seattle, Washington, opened in 1905, with 21 to the end of that year.

United Kingdom.—There were 13 crematoria in operation in the United Kingdom on September 1st, 1907. The oldest is that at Woking, Surrey, which was first used for the cremation of human remains in 1885. In that year three cremations took place there, the number gradually increasing each year until in 1901 301 bodies were cremated. Up to September 1st, 1907, the total number of cremations at Woking was 2939. Then followed the crematorium at Manchester, opened in 1892 with 90 in 1906 and a total of 1085; at Glasgow, opened in 1895 with 45 in 1906 and a total of 252; at Liverpool, opened in 1896, with 46 in 1906 and a total of 374; at Hull, opened in 1901 (the first municipal crematorium), with 17 in 1906 and a total of 116; at Darlington, also opened in 1901, with 13 in 1906 and a total of 33. The Leicester Corporation crematorium was opened in 1902, with 12 in 1906 and a total of 50. Next in order came the Golder’s Green crematorium, Hampstead, London, which was opened in December 1902. In 1906 298 cremations took place there, making a total of 1091. After this followed the Birmingham crematorium, opened in 1903, with 21 in 1906 and a total of 84; the City of London crematorium at Little Ilford, opened in 1905, with 23 for 1906 and a total of 46; the Leeds crematorium, opened in 1905, with 15 in 1906 and a total of 42; the Bradford Corporation crematorium, opened in 1905, with 13 in 1906, and a total of 20; and the Sheffield Corporation crematorium, opened in 1905, with 6 in 1906 and a total of 26. Thus there were 739 cremations in the United Kingdom in 1906, making a total at the above crematoria down to September 1st, 1907, of 6158. The Golder’s Green crematorium, situated on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath, stands in its own grounds of 12 acres, and is but 35 minutes’ drive from Oxford Circus. London thus has two crematoria within driving distance of its centre, and the Woking crematorium within easy reach of the south-west suburbs. (J. C. S.-H.) 

  1. Macrobius says it was disused in the reign of the younger Theodosius (Gibbon v. 411).
  2. The Colchians, says Sir Thos. Browne, made their graves in the air, i.e. on trees.
  3. In the case of a great man there was often a burnt offering of animals and even of slaves (see Caesar, De bell. Gall. iv.).
  4. A temple of the Holy Ghost (see Tertullian, De anima,c.51, cited in Müller, Lex. des Kirchenrechts, s.v. “Begräbniss”).
  5. This was the first society formed in Europe for the promotion of cremation.
  6. For a full account of these, see Modern Cremation: Its History and Practice to the Present Date, by Sir H. Thompson, Bart., F.R.C.S., &c. (4th ed., Smith, Elder, Waterloo Place, 1901).
  7. The Times, 27th March 1885.
  8. Reports on Death Certification (1893), Eyre & Spottiswoode, London (373,472).
  9. Statutory Rules and Orders, 1903, No. 286, Eyre & Spottiswoode.
  10. A Special Inquiry into the Practice of Interment in Towns, by Edwin Chadwick (London, 1843), is replete with evidence, and should be read by those who desire to pursue the inquiry further.