This entertaining narrative begins: 'An account of rather a New and Curious Circumstance that took place at Aberdeen . . . between a respectable Lecturer on Anatomy . . . and a party of Sailors'. This story was sourced from the 'Fife Journal' of Thursday 26th February, 1829 and the 'Montrose Review'.
This article makes reference to the Edinburgh case of the bodysnatchers Burke and Hare. As such this article is one of many which featured in the nineteenth-century human dissection debate. There is no grim dead body ending here though, but rather a practical joke. English sailors were forced into the port of Aberdeen by the lack of wind. Here, feeling bored by inaction, they decided to deliver their 'dead' friend to a doctor for the price of three pound. When the doctor re-entered his cellar the 'dead body' miraculously awoke and ran away - with the money of course!
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.
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