A Full and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of WIL-
LIAM BURKE and HELEN McDOUGALL, his reputed wife,
who were tried before the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh,
on Wednesday the 24th December, 1828, and Burke is to be
Executed, on Wednesday the 28th January, 1829, and his body
to be given for dissection.
YESTERDAY, came on before the High Court of Justiciary
the trial of William Burke and Helen M'Dougall, for Mur-
der....1st, Burke, with the murder of Mary Paterson or Mitchell, in
Cibb's Close, Canongate, Edinburgh, between 7th and 16th April
1828.....2d, Burke with the murder, between 5th and 26th October,
in Tanner's Close, Portsbnrgh, of James Wilson, commonly called
Daft Jamie. 3d, Burke and Helen McDougall, for the murder of
Madgy, or Margery, or Mary McGonegal, or Duffie, or Campbell,
or Docherty, on the 31st October, in Burke's house, Wester Ports-
burgh. There are 55 witnesses. The manner of the murders
being penetrated is stated, in the indicmeni, by Burke throwing
himself upon the bodies of the victims, and pressing them to death,
holding their mouth and nose. Daft Jamie is stated to have held
a deadly struggle with the murderer. The prisoners were charged
with intent to sell to physicians or surgeons as subjects for dissec-
The first witness that was called was Ann Black or Connaway,
who lived in Wester Portsburgh, who, after described the situation
of her house, stated, that the woman M'Dougall lived with Burke,
and had seen Hare and his wife coming about them. On Friday,
31st October, (Halloe'en) about mid-day, witness saw Burke pass
along the passage, going inward, with a woman following him,
who was a stranger and whom witness had never seen before.
About three o'clock afternoon, witness went into Burke's house and
found the woman whom she had seen going with Burke sitting at
the fire, supping porridge and milk. She had her head tied up in
a handkerchief. Witness said " I see you have got a stranger."
Mrs. McDougall replied they had got a friend of her husband's, a
Highland woman. A little while after, a girl, whose name she un-
derstood to be Paterson, came and asked for her husband ; it turn-
ed out that it was Burke she wanted. Witness went into Burke's
house, where she found McDougall, Burke, and Mrs. Law, and
youg Broggan drinking. Burke had a bottle of spirits in his hand.
He filled out a glass and then dashed out the spirits on a bed.
Witness asked McDougall what had become of the old woman,
She replied, Burke and her were too friendly together, and that she
had kicked her out of the house, asking at the same time, " Did
you hear it?" Observed a bundle of straw at the bottom of the
bed. Witness left Burke's house a little after ten. Went in again
with Gray's wife to see what she had told her of. She saw no-
thing, but was so frightened, that she came out again without see-
ing any thing. The straw was turned. Did not see Burke till far
on in the night, till it was reported that he had murdered a woman.
Burke said he would go and see the man who said he had done
amiss, and when he went to the passage the Police apprehended him.
Hugh Alston lived in the same land with. Burke. On 31st Oc-
tober, about 11 o'clock, heard a woman crying murder ; went to
the flat where Burke resided, halting within a yard of Connoway's.
door, and then he listened. Heard two men as if wrangling and
struggling, and the woman crying murder, but did not consider her in imminent danger. That continued for about a minute, and then he heard a cry as if a person had been strangled. The same female's voice that bad cried murder was struck as by the soft part of the hand, and called " Police, for there is murder here." He was about three yards from the door that leads to Burke's house, whin he heard the three remarkable sounds. On Saturday evening heard of a body being found, which enabled him to fix the subject in his memory.
David Paterson, keeper of the museum belonging to Dr Know. Knows the pri-
soner by sight. Witness went home on the 31st of October, about 12 o'clock, found
Burke knocking at the door. Burke wished to see him at his house, and he went
aocordingly, he found two men, including Burke, and two women there. Burke
said to him, he had procured something for the doctor; pointing to the head of a
bed where straw was lying. Witness understood he alluded to a dead body.
McDougall was one of the women in company thought he would know the other.
Witness sent his sister next morning for Burke, (witness was here shown Hare and
his wife, whom he identified as being in Burke's house on the 31 st October.) Burke
came next morning at 9 o'clock, and witness said, if he had any thing to give to Dr
Knox, to settle with himself. Burke, Hare, and a porter, came with an old tea-
where he saw an old woman, who appeared to be into intoxicated. The old woman
having fallen, Burke stood stridelegs over her, and laid himself down abover her;
his breast being on her head, she gave a cry, and then moaned a little. He pat one
hand on her nose and mouth, and the other under her chin, until she was dead.
After a long and interesting Trial, which lasteat twenty-four hours, William Burke
was found Guilty, and the libel against Macdougall Not Proven. Burke was then
sentenced to be executed at Edinburgh on Wednesday the 28th of January 1829,
and his body given for dissection.
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Probable date published:
1829 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(011)
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