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Broadside entitled 'Execution'



A Full and True Account of the Last Speech and Dying Declaration
of WILLIAM BURKE, who was Executed at Edinburgh this morn-
ing, for Murder, and his body given for dissection ; also of his
conduct and behaviour since his condemnation, and on the

                                           Edinburgh, 28th January, 1829.

About nine o'clock this morning, WILLIAM BURKE, the wretched
miscreant, who had occupied so much of public attention since his
condemnation, on account of the unheard of atrocities disclosed at
his trial, suffered the penalty of the law due for the commission of
such barbarous and enormous crimes, at the head of Libberton
Wynd, Lawnmarket, in the presence of an immense multitude of
spectators, many of whom came from a great distance.

The indictment charged Burke and M' Dougal, his reputed wife,
but to whom he was not married, with three different acts of deli-
berate murder, between the 7th April, and 31st October last, viz.....
Mary Paterson or Mitchell, James Wilson, alias Daft Jamie, and
Marjory Campbell or Docherty. The trial then proceeded for the
murder of Docherty only, to which they both pied not Guilty.
William Hare and Margaret Laird, his wife, accomplices in the
murders, were admitted King's evidence.

After a long and very interesting trial, which lasted nearly
twenty four hours, and which excited the strongest sensations of
horror and disgust in the minds of all present, the jury' found
William Burke Guilty, and the libel not proven against M' Dougal ;
upon hearing this, Burke turned round to his paramour, and coolly
exclaimed, " Nelly, your are out of the scrape." After a few obser-
vatioas by Lord Meadowbank, in which Lord M' Kenzie concur-
red, the Lord Justice Clerk addressed Burke, in a most impressive
manner, setting forth in the strongest language, the enormity of the
crime of which he was now convicted ; " a crime, more atrocious,
a more cold-blooded, deliberate, and systematic preparation for
murder, and the motives so paltry, (said his Lordship,) was really
unexampled in the annals of the country," and assuring him that
his sentence would most positively be carried into execution; and
solemnly warning him to prepare his mind in the most suitable
manner to appear before the Throne of Almighty God to answer
for his crimes. He was then sentenced to be executed on Wednes-
day morning, the 28th January, 1829, between the hours of eight
and ten o'clock, and his body to be given for dissection.

Since his condemnation this unhappy man was perfectly peni-
tent and resigned to his fate.    He never deluded himself with any
hopes of escape or of mercy ; and accordingly, he   immediately
prepared himself for confession and for receiving absolution, by a
perusal of such books as his   spiritual guides had   put into-his
hands, and by listening with the most devout attention to their re-
ligious instructions.    He fully acknowledged the justice of his sen-
tence ; nay, he considered it in some measure as a blessing, the
certainty of his approaching fare having brought back his mind to
a true sense of religion, from which it had been long estranged, and
he wished to die at peace with all men.   He made a full confession
of all the murders he was guilty of, condescending on no less than
sixteen persons, beginning with Old Abigail Simpson, from Loan-
head, and ending with Marjory Campbell or Docherty, and all with-
in the short space of nine months ; mentioning their names, sex, and
age, in so far as he knew them, and the dates at which they were
dispatched, which was generally by suffocation, as well as to whom
sold, and the price received for the bodies.    He said they all made
very little resistance, being generally, if not always, very much in-
toxicated with spirits.    What induced him to commence this hor-
rible traffic in blood, was, he said, Hare and him having received
L. 7, 10s. for the body of an old Pensioner who died in Hare's
house, and which, at Hare's suggestion, they took to Surgeons

Accordingly, about eight this morning, he was waited upon by the officiating
Magistrates at the Lock-up-house, where he had previously been brought from Jail,
and soon after proceeded to the scaffold up Libberton Wynd, attended by two
Catholic Clergymen. After some time spent in prayer kneeling, he mounted the
fatal drop, (after shaking hands with those around him,) the rope being then adjust-
ed, and the cap drawn over his face, he in a few moments gave the signal, and was
instantly launched into eternity. After hanging the usual time he was cut down,
and sent to the College for dissection.


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Date of publication: 1829   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(48)
Broadside entitled 'Execution'
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