HC Deb 11 February 1853 vol 124 cc37-8

wished to call the attention of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department (Viscount Palmerston) to the disgraceful state of the graveyards in the metropolis—a state which was most shameful, and most injurious to the public health, and which rendered the largest thoroughfares dangerous. He wished now to refer more particularly to that of St. Clement Danes, in the Strand. Great complaints had been made of the state of that churchyard, and many persons had been attacked by serious diseases in consequence of passing along that part of the Strand. One gentleman, who happened to be passing at the time of a funeral, was struck with a most virulent disease, which assumed an appearance very like the plague, swellings having arisen under each arm, and he remained for a considerable time in a state of great danger. Many medical men of eminence considered it dangerous for persons to pass along the streets, and were of opin- ion that many deaths had taken place from that cause. He had been assured by one medical man that putrid flesh and blood had sometimes been thrown up by the gravedigger when exercising his functions in that churchyard. He wished to ask his noble Friend whether the attention of the Government had been drawn to this matter, and whether the noble Lord would not exercise the authority given him by the Act of Parliament, in order to put a stop to the practices to which he had referred?


said, the particular case to which the noble Lord had alluded, was brought under his notice a few days ago, by a deputation from the parish to which that graveyard belonged; and the result was, that a meeting of the vestry was held, and an application was made to him for an Order in Council to shut up that graveyard, and that Order would as soon as possible be passed. He considered the state of the graveyards in this metropolis, generally speaking, a disgrace to a civilised community, and he trusted that the authorities of the parishes with whom it rested to take steps to correct so dreadful an evil, would not be deterred by any consideration of local expense from taking those precautions which would have the effect of removing from the metropolis a source of pestilence which might be attended with the most disastrous results, should it be the will of Providence that any outbreak of the cholera, which was raging in some parts of the Continent, should occur in the metropolis. He could assure the House that the attention of the Government would be anxiously directed to the subject to which the noble Lord had drawn their attention.