Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy

11/11/2004

THE STORY OF BURKE AND HARE

Being a brief account of the regular system of murder carried on in the West Port of Edinburgh between the Christmas of 1827 and October 1828.

THE principal actor in this wholesale butchery, almost without parallel in any age or country, eclipsing anything in story or romance, was William Burke, a native of Tyrone, in Ireland. Born about the year 1792, of honest, hard-working parents, Roman Catholics, he lived and wrought with them until the age of eighteen, when he left and became a servant to a gentleman in the neighbourhood. After being there about twelve months, the gentleman died; and Burke at the age of nineteen entered the Donegal Militia. At this period he married a respectable young woman in Ballina, and by her had seven children, who all died except one boy, who was alive at the time of the trial. Owing to some dispute he left them and came over to Scotland, where he was employed on making the Union Canal; and met in with a woman named McDougal at the village of Maddiston, in Stirlingshire, where they agreed to live as man and wife. He afterwards came to Edinburgh along with McDougal, and engaged in a sort of petty traffic, travelling about the country selling wares, buying old clothes, and collecting skins, human hair, &c. He also used to purchase quantities of old shoes, and, after cobbling them in the best manner he could, send McDougal to hawk them over the country. They left Edinburgh for a short time, but came back after the harvest of 1827; and then they became acquainted with the monster William Hare, who kept a sort of beggars hotel or lodging-house in Tanners Close, West Port, under the name of Logs Lodging, the previous husband of his wife. In this abode of profligacy, vice, and drunkenness, they carried on their murderous trade, in which they continued for about twelve months.

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