The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside regarding the Burke and Hare trials


This crime report begins: 'Execution, Confession, and a list of all the Horrid Murders committed by Burke, also the decision of Hare's Case / List of the 16 Murders committed by Burke'. Two woodcuts, one of Burke on the left and one of Hare on the right have been included. The bottom of the sheet also carries a woodcut of Daft or Poor Jamie, one of their victims. The sheet was published by Glass of 9 South Niddry Street, Edinburgh.

The case of the Burke and Hare murders outraged and disgusted both Edinburgh's and Scotland's citizens. There are many, many sheets held in the National Library of Scotland's collection which cover the case and its details. This sheet deals mainly with the grimly compelling details of the murders committed. This sheet forms part of the debate which raged throughout Scottish Victorian society over the morality of human dissection.

Burke and Hare were Irish bodysnatchers and murderers, who worked around Edinburgh's Canongate area - eventually becoming local legends. They hit upon the idea of murdering vulnerable or solitary people (in an attempt not to get caught) so that they could sell the bodies for dissection. Hare turned King's Evidence and so was acquitted, but this secured the conviction of Burke, who was hanged on the 28th January 1829.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1829   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(028)
Broadside regarding the Burke and Hare trials
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland