Jeremy Bentham’s Head Fell Off

Jeremy Bentham was an interesting guy who advocated for things like equal rights for women and the abolition of slavery.

Among the many other important things Jeremy Bentham accomplished I also learned that he had written into his Will that his body be preserved, stored in a cabinet and brought out for special board meetings.

Then one day his head, which was not preserved well…fell off. So they made a wax one and stuck his real head between his feet ( see picture above) .


Jeremy Bentham’s Head

I’m sorry to say I couldn’t have made this stuff up…

darn it.


Jeremy Bentham (26 February [O.S. 15 February 15] 1748) – June 6, 1832) was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He was a political radical and a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law. He is best known as an early advocate of utilitarianism and fair treatment of animals who influenced the development of liberalism.

14 thoughts on “Jeremy Bentham’s Head Fell Off

  1. As I live and breathe its Jennifer ( ta-da!)
    I’ll be round soon…

    And Tony, you are SO talking to the right girl for this. Let me know about the wax head though…it can be done but the real one is much more interesting. Especialy since it fell off and all.

    anita marie


    • Anita Marie- about Jeremy Bentham (your post of Oct. 21, 2007) – How did you source the material? I’m writing an article that includes Bentham and need some fact-checking. Can you help me?



      • Thanks, Anita Marie for your response about Bentham. I, too, was fascinated from childhood by my 1927 copy of Ripley’s (which is still at my desk) and Benthams’ story. I did a little digging and finally interviewed a man who heads the Jeremy Bentham Project at University College in London. Ripley (and all the internet sites and on-line encyclopedias I viewed) was wrong about almost everything except his preservation. There was nothing in his will, for instance, about attending Board meetings, and only in the 1970s was his body brought to one. It was apparently a good-humored response to the myth of his attendance fostered erroneously by Ripley. He was indeed marked “Absent, but not voting” in homage presumably to Believe It Or Not.



  2. i think that the world would be a much better place if every poorly preserved head could just fall off, and then the person whose head it was got given a new one.

    this would work best if we didn’t have to wait for ppl to die, like, before it became an option.


  3. Hi Kym! Wait till you see what I’ve got coming up…

    you know Gullybogan, I was standing here and after I read your comment I could see all these heads popping off peoples shoulders- man, that’s a BRILLIANT idea.

    Gold Star for you.
    anita marie


  4. How sad that someone who advocated such simple and good concepts would be such a basketcase.

    This would be like finding out Gandhi requested that his bones be ground up and snorted during a masonic ritual or that Martin Luther King Jr. demanded to be mummified and used as a pinata.

    How very depressing.


  5. Everything Jeremy did- he did for other people.
    So in the end if he wanted something wild and silly and off the wall…I say give it to him.

    After all- look at what he did…the man was a rebel.

    anita marie


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