Human bones belonging to at least 15 subjects were found in the basement of Benjamin Franklin’s house in London during a renovation.
The eminent scientist and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin left his London home located in the heart of the city at 36 Craven Street in the mid-1770s and returned to America. The renovation of Franklin’s residence began in 1998 to transform the place into a museum. According to the Benjamin Franklin House, there were 1,200 pieces of bone discovered in a pit that belonged to more than a dozen people, out of which six were children. Evidence suggests that the body parts were dismembered and several holes were drilled into one of the skulls. Investigations revealed that the remains dated back to the time of Franklin.
As Franklin is known to have been a Freemason, proponents of conspiracy theories could easily regard the great scientist as a manager who had run a gruesome, dark business. However, the bones turned out to be none other than traces of an early educational pathology lab, which was run by Franklin’s protégé and friend William Hewson, regarded as the father of hematology.
In those times autopsy was in its infancy and it was seen as an unethical activity. Receiving cadavers legally was complicated, so pioneers of the profession were forced to rob graves or hire “professionals” to do the job.
36 Craven Street was a perfect location for Hewson, as the flat was owned by his friend and the lady of the house was his mother-in-law. Franklin probably knew that illegal studies were conducted in the basement but he was unlikely to have taken an active part in the activity.
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