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Broadside ballad entitled 'William Burke's Confession'



Ye people of this nation, come listen unto me
To young and old I will unfold this horrid tragedy,
Now at the age of thirty-six sentenced must undergo,
For these murders, we done in the west port of Edinbro'.
William Burke it is my name, in Ireland I was   bred,
I serv'd some time its well known to the shoe-making trade.
Before I left my native land I took to me a wife,
I left her behind. I was inclin'd to my a roving life.
In 1813 to Glasgow town I came.

I took up with a married wife, M'Dougall was her name,
She did advise me to leave town, and go to Edinbro',
Now of my whole transactions, I'll give you all to know.
For 11 months in the West Port, I think we did live there,
I here I became   cquainted with a man call'd William Hare,
He said he'd put me on plan that I would money make,
But Oh I was a foolish man, that did his council take.
Our houses being convenient to trade we did begin,
Any fit subject I could spy I did invite them in ;
We did entice them for to drink, until quite drunk they lay,
So then by suffocation we took their lives away.
Mary Peterson's the first they too our charge did lay,
But many a life before hers its true we took away ;
James Wilson too poor lad its true we treated most severe,
I never could his strength subdue till assisted by Hare.
But as for Widow Campbell, who came her son to seek,
I did invite unto my house on last Hallowe'en week,
Great friendship I did seem to shew to her for country sake,
But when I got her head laid low, her life I then did take.
Another woman and her son we murdered I declare,
The woman's life was ta'en by me, the lad was kill'd by Hare.
All the murders I did commit Hare was present with me,
Only one that I done myself while in the country.
A wife we kill'd in Broggan's, but he knew of it not,
And a poor washer woman, L.29 for them we got;
Like lambs unto the slaughter, these creatures we did lead,
Its for nine months and better, we carried on this trade.
There's one atrocious murder lies heavy on my mind,
And when I do think on the same no rest here can I find,
A lovely child in my face smil'd as on my knee it lay,
But wretched man now that I am, I took it's life away.
Its above twenty bodies now unto one man we gave,
Not one of them I'm certain has been raised from a grave;
This traffick long we've carried on, but now it is all by,
For Hare in jail he may bewail, and I am doom'd to die.
With Helen M'Dougall ten years I liv'd in adultery,
I took delight to rake at night and keep bad company,
[ ]t young and old ta'e warning and strive this fate to shon,
[ ]hoy can I now think to die far crimes that I have done.

PULPIT ORATORY.-- A sermon was lately preached in one of our
churches, Kirriemuir, by a very popular divine, in which he gave a cata-
logue of Burke's crimes as minute as those which are hawked about the
streets, and sent him reeling to the darkest and most dismal corners of the
infernal regions. One sentence ran thus:--" I do say that it is im-
possible that his soulmay go to heaven, but it is altogether improbable,
for the holy angels would not keen company with such a criminal!"--   

Dundee Advertizer.

PHRENOLOGY.- The Edinburgh phrenologists (says a Correspondent)
have been sadly thrown out in their calculations, by the skull of Burke the
murderer. We would suggest to them another subject which they will
find at hand, and with which they may have better luck. Si prodigiosa
qu?ris, circumspice. The West-port gang is not only one that has
infested Edinburgh of late; nor the present the only conspiracy to gain a
clandestine livelihood by shots. It is true, the Princes street gang differed
from the West-port in thlis, that they dealt in the carcases of reputations
instead of the dead bodies of their victims. The traffic was in either case
equally nefarious , equally mercenary, equally systematic, and carried
on with the profoundest secrcesy. The assassins of character picked up
their information by the sane sinister means, began their operations with
a scene of hoaxing and game making, then fell upon and strangled the
victims of calumny, and sold them to their employers, who made no inquiry
into the means, so that the ends jof utility and social order were attained.
They had also their Daft Jamie, " that poor harmless innocent," Johnny
??; and, like the West-port ruffians, spared neither age nor sex. All

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Probable date published: 1829   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(036)
Broadside ballad entitled 'William Burke's Confession'
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