William Burke and the Edinburgh Irish; Sympathy for the Devil

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Archives  holds the memoirs of Edinburgh University student Thomas Hume. In his memoirs, Hume discusses the execution and dissection of William Burke, both of which he was witness to. In this latest blog, our Senior Museum Research Fellow Ken Donaldson explores the sympathy felt for Burke by some witnesses…

Unmaking a Murderer

John Baxter writes for Surgeons’ Hall Museums in this guest post chronicling William Burke’s movements in his final 24 hours.  The story of the West Port Murders is one of the most shocking ever recorded in Scottish judicial history.  Over a period of 10 months in 1828, William Burke and William Hare murdered 16 people…

Pathology Spotlight – Fergusson, Burke & Hare

This specimen was prepared by Professor Sir William Fergusson who, as a young man in early 19th century Edinburgh, worked closely with Dr Robert Knox, whose notoriety is based on his association with the serial killers Burke and Hare. It is a corrosion cast of a right foot with the lower end of the leg…

Edinburgh’s Dark History: Burke and Hare

William Burke was executed on January 28 1829. As punishment for his crimes he was publicly dissected by the anatomist Professor Alexander Monro (tertius) at the University of Edinburgh. Grisly souvenirs started to appear in Edinburgh, with books and wallets made from Burke’s skin being sold on the streets. A pocket book made from Burke’s skin…