Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)

Death: 6th June 1832
Location: University College London, Bloomsbury, London, England
Photo taken by: MykReeve
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English philosopher and social reformer who is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. He advocated individual and economic freedom, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts. He called for the abolition of slavery, the abolition of the death penalty, and the abolition of physical punishment, including that of children. 
Bentham died on 6 June 1832 aged 84. He had made careful preparations for the dissection of his body after death and its preservation as an auto-icon. His skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the Auto-icon, with the skeleton padded out with hay and dressed in Bentham's clothes. The Auto-icon was acquired by University College London in 1850 and it is normally kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the college. Bentham had intended the Auto-icon to incorporate his actual head, mummified to resemble its appearance in life. However, experimental efforts at mummification, based on practices of the indigenous people of New Zealand and involving placing the head under an air pump over sulfuric acid and simply drawing off the fluids, although technically successful, left the head looking distastefully macabre, with dried and darkened skin stretched tautly over the skull. The Auto-icon was therefore given a wax head, fitted with some of Bentham's own hair. The real head was displayed in the same case as the Auto-icon for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks. It is now locked away securely.