There have been many highly evolved beings walk-ing your
Through extra mobility of their necks they could really lie in a straight line, one sleeping on the side and the other on the back. There is a report a of two girls joined at their vertices, who survived their birth. With the exception of this junction they were well formed and independent in existence. There was no communication of the cranial cavities, but simply fusion of the cranial bones covered by superficial fascia and skin. Daubenton has seen a case of union at the occiput, but further details are not quoted.
CLASS IV.--The next class to be considered is that in which the individuals are separate and well formed, except that the point of fusion is a common part, eliminating their individual components in this location. The pygopagous twins belong in this section. According to Bateman, twins were born in 1493 at Rome joined back to back, and survived their birth. The same authority speaks of a female child who was born with "2 bellies, 4 arms, 4 legs, 2 heads, and 2 sets of privates, and was exhibited throughout Italy for gain's sake." The "Biddenden Maids" were born in Biddenden, Kent, in 1100. Their names were Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, and their parents were fairly well-to-do people. They were supposed to have been united at the hips and the shoulders, and lived until 1134. At the death of one it was proposed to separate them, but the remaining sister refused, saying, "As we came together, we will also go together," and, after about six hours of this Mezentian existence, they died. They bequeathed to the church-wardens of the parish and their successors land to the extent of 20 acres, at the present time bringing a rental of about $155.00 annually, with the instructions that the money was to be spent in the distribution of cakes (bearing the impression of their images, to be given away on each Easter Sunday to all strangers in Biddenden) and also 270 quartern loaves, with cheese in proportion, to all the poor in said parish. Ballantyne has accompanied his description of these sisters by illustrations, one of which shows the cake. Heaton gives a very good description of these maids; and a writer in "Notes and Queries" of March 27, 1875, gives the following information relative to the bequest:--
"On Easter Monday, at Biddenden, near Staplehurst, Kent, there is a distribution, according to ancient custom, of 'Biddenden Maids' cakes,' with bread and cheese, the cost of which is defrayed from the proceeds of some 20 acres of land, now yielding L35 per annum. and known as the 'Bread and Cheese Lands.' About the year 1100 there lived Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst, who were joined together after the manner of the Siamese twins, and who lived for thirty-four years, one dying, and then being followed by her sister within six hours. They left by their will the lands above alluded to and their memory is perpetuated by imprinting on the cakes their effigies 'in their habit as they lived.' The cakes, which are simple flour and water, are four inches long by two inches wide, and are much sought after as curiosities. These, which are given away, are distributed at the discretion of the church-wardens, and are nearly 300 in number. The bread and cheese amounts to 540 quartern loaves and 470 pounds of cheese. The distribution is made on land belonging to the charity, known as the Old Poorhouse. Formerly it used to take place in the Church, immediately after the service in the afternoon, but in consequence of the unseemly disturbance which used to ensue the practice was discontinued. The Church used to be filled with a congregation whose conduct was occasionally so reprehensible that sometimes the church-wardens had to use their wands for other purposes than symbols of office. The impressions of the maids 'on the cakes are of a primitive character, and are made by boxwood dies cut in 1814. They bear the date 1100, when Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst are supposed to have been born, and also their age at death, thirty-four years."
Ballantyne has summed up about all there is to be said on this national monstrosity, and his discussion of the case from its historic as well as teratologic standpoint is so excellent that his conclusions will be quoted--
"It may be urged that the date fixed for the birth of the Biddenden Maids is so remote as to throw grave doubt upon the reality of the occurrence. The year 1100 was, it will be remembered, that in which William Rufus was found dead in the New Forest, 'with the arrow either of a hunter or an assassin in his breast.' According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, several 'prodigies' preceded the death of this profligate and extravagant monarch. Thus it is recorded that 'at Pentecost blood was observed gushing from the earth at a certain town of Berkshire, even as many asserted who declared that they had seen it. And after this, on the morning after Lammas Day, King William was shot.' Now, it is just possible that the birth of the Biddenden Maids may have occurred later, but have been antedated by the popular tradition to the year above mentioned. For such a birth would, in the opinion of the times, be regarded undoubtedly as a most evident prodigy or omen of evil. Still, even admitting that the date 1100 must be allowed to stand, its remoteness from the present time is not a convincing argument against a belief in the real occurrence of the phenomenon; for of the dicephalic Scottish brothers, who lived in 1490, we have credible historic evidence. Further, Lycosthenes, in his "Chronicon Prodigiorum atque Ostentorum", published in 1557, states, upon what authority I know not, that in the year 1112 joined twins resembling the Biddenden phenomenon in all points save in sex were born in England. The passage is as follows: 'In Anglia natus est puer geminus a clune ad superiores partes ita divisus, ut duo haberet capita, duo corpora integra ad renes cum suis brachiis, qui baptizatus triduo supervixit.' It is just possible that in some way or other this case has been confounded with the story of Biddenden; at any rate, the occurrence of such a statement in Lycosthenes' work is of more than passing interest. Had there been no bequest of land in connection with the case of the Kentish Maids, the whole affair would probably soon have been forgotten.
"There is, however, one real difficulty in accepting the story handed down to us as authentic,--the nature of the teratologic phenomenon itself. All the records agree in stating that the Maids were joined together at the shoulders and hips, and the impression on the cakes and the pictures on the 'broadsides' show this peculiar mode of union, and represent the bodies as quite separate in the space between the above-named points. The Maids are shown with four feet and two arms, the right and left respectively, whilst the other arms (left and right) are fused together at the shoulder according to one illustration, and a little above the elbow according to another. Now, although it is not safe to say that such an anomaly is impossible, I do not know of any case of this peculiar mode of union; but it may be that, as Prof. A. R. Simpson has suggested, the Maids had four separate arms, and were in the habit of going about with their contiguous arms round each other's necks, and that this gave rise to the notion that these limbs were united. If this be so, then the teratologic difficulty is removed, for the case becomes perfectly comparable with the well-known but rare type of double terata known as the pygopagous twins, which is placed by Taruffi with that of the ischiopagous twins in the group dicephalus lecanopagus. Similar instances, which are well known to students of teratology, are the Hungarian sisters (Helen and Judith), the North Carolina twins (Millie and Christine), and the Bohemian twins (Rosalie and Josepha Blazek). The interspace between the thoraces may, however, have simply been the addition of the first artist who portrayed the Maids (from imagination?); then it may be surmised that they were ectopagous twins.
"Pygopagous twins are fetuses united together in the region of the nates and having each its own pelvis. In the recorded cases the union has been usually between the sacra and coccyges, and has been either osseous or (more rarely) ligamentous. Sometimes the point of junction was the middle line posteriorly, at other times it was rather a posterolateral union; and it is probable that in the Biddenden Maids it was of the latter kind; and it is likely, from the proposal made to separate the sisters after the death of one, that it was ligamentous in nature.
"If it be granted that the Biddenden Maids were pygopagous twins, a study of the histories of other recorded cases of this monstrosity serves to demonstrate many common characters. Thus, of the 8 cases which Taruffi has collected, in 7 the twins were female; and if to these we add the sisters Rosalie and Josepha Blazek and the Maids, we have 10 cases, of which 9 were girls. Again, several of the pygopagous twins, of whom there are scientific records, survived birth and lived for a number of years, and thus resembled the Biddenden terata. Helen and Judith, for instance, were twenty-three years old at death; and the North Carolina twins, although born in 1851, are still alive. There is, therefore, nothing inherently improbable in the statement that the Biddenden Maids lived for thirty-four years. With regard also to the truth of the record that the one Maid survived her sister for six hours, there is confirmatory evidence from scientifically observed instances, for Joly and Peyrat (Bull. de l'Acad. Med., iii., pp. 51 and 383, 1874) state that in the case seen by them the one infant lived ten hours after the death of the other. It is impossible to make any statement with regard to the internal structure of the Maids or to the characters of their genital organs, for there is absolutely no information forthcoming upon these points. It may simply be said, in conclusion, that the phenomenon of Biddenden is interesting not only on account of the curious bequest which arose out of it, but also because it was an instance of a very rare teratologic type, occurring at a very early period in our national history."
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