Precedent for Cremation Set
We are now so used to the disposal of our earthly remains by cremation that it may surprise many to learn that the first crematorium only opened – in Manchester – in 1892 (and that the Cremation Act rather belatedly followed in 1902).
The move from burial to cremation was facilitated by the extraordinary figure of Dr William Price, who on January 18 1884 attempted to cremate the body of his five-month-old son Jesus Christ Price (named thus to annoy Christians) on a hill in Llantrisant.
Price, born in Rudry and closely linked with Pontypridd , was no stranger to controversy: as a physician he refused to treat smokers; was a key figure in the Druid movement; had to flee to France as a prominent Chartist peripherally involved in the Newport Uprising of 1839; and wrote and lectured against marriage as an institution.
When his son died (the product of the octogenarian Price’s relationship with a girl in her late teens or very early twenties) Dr Price, who considered allowing a body to rot beneath the earth was both unhygienic and wasteful of land, decided to cremate him, wrapping the remains in paraffin-soaked linen within a casket. The crowd of onlookers turned nasty when he set light to the pyre; Price was arrested, the body removed. But when at Cardiff Assizes the judge ruled that there was no law prohibiting cremation, Price was freed and went on to finish the sad task in March 1884.
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