Dr Dan O’Brien

We’re delighted to welcome Dr Dan O’Brien to our roster of Placecloud experts. Dan is a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath. His primary research interests are death and funerals in eighteenth century England, with a more specific focus on the business of undertaking in this period. Dan enjoys sharing his research with a wide range of audiences and welcomes ideas from professionals engaged in deathwork which broaden his own thinking in new ways.

Dan’s current research focuses on people’s knowledge about the early undertaking trade in the eighteenth century. By studying the ways in which undertakers were presented by people inside and outside of the trade, the project intends to build a picture of what ‘undertaking’ meant in the period. For Placecloud Dan discusses undertakers and funerals in eighteenth century London. 

Dan will be publishing 11 viewpoints next month:

‘An undertaker is robbed’ – Holborn

The story of Philip Baron, an undertaker who was robbed near the watch house in Holborn. 

A freemason undertaker – Shoreditch

The former location of Barnard Feay, an undertaker who was a member of the local masonic lodge. 

Killed by hearse horses – Goswell Street

The unfortunate account of William Quarray who was killed by a hearse horse. Including a wider introduction into hearse pulling horses and their work in London. 

The rowdy funeral of Richard Russell – Bermondsey

Describing the rowdy and disorderly crowd at funeral in 1784. Richard Russell was a local magistrate whose funeral was disrupted by the noise and behaviour of a large, enthusiastic crowd.

The funeral arrangements of a porter – Exchange Alley

The porters were an important but criticised part of life in London’s trading community as they distributed messages between individuals. At change alley hear about the arrangements that porters made for the deaths of their members.

Rev William Romaine – St Andrew by the Wardrobe

William Romaine’s funeral drew a large but peaceful crowd. The spectacular procession from Balham Hill to the burial vault involved many spectators, charity recipients and marshals from the City of London.

A illegal funeral souvenir – Westminster Abbey

Funeral spectators were expected to be mournful and well behaved – Jenkin Evans had other ideas however. Evans took a trophy pendant from a funeral outside Westminster Abbey. Discussion of what hearse decorations were and what punishment Evans faced.

Pickpocket amidst the mourners – Christ Church, Newgate Street

Not all people at funerals were there to mourn. In this account we discover what happened when a member of the funeral crowd was found to be stealing from the pockets of those around him.

Spectators at a royal funeral – Near present-day Palace of Westminster

What happened in the crowd at a royal funeral. Using a few stories we examine what spectators did and what might happen to them.

A large funeral organised by the Company of Upholders – Strand

Describing the grand funeral of man who was buried by a member of the Company of Upholders – including the extravagant decorations of the room where he lay in state at Exeter Change and the organisation of his long journey back home for burial.

Ostrich feathers plucked – James Street

Francis Lydia took some ostrich feathers from undertaker John White and was indicted for his crime. This moment explains what ostrich feathers were used for in the funeral and why they were so important.

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