A Full and Particular account of the Execution of W. BURKE,
who was hanged at Edinburgh on Wednesday the 28th
January, 1829; also, an account of his conduct and
behaviour since his condemnation, and on the Scaffold.
Early on Wednesday morning, the Town of Edinburgh was filled with an immense
croud of spectators, from all places of the surrounding country, to witness the execution
of a Monster, whose crime stands unparalleled in the annals of Scotland : viz.—for cruelly
murdering Margery M'Conegal, and afterwards selling her body to the Doctors in Octo-
Whilst this unhappy man was under sentence, he made the following Confession:—that
he had been engaged in this murderous traffic from Christmas, 1827, until the murder of
the woman Docherty, or M'Conegal, in October last; during which period, he had but-
chered Sixteen of his fellow-creatures, and that he had no accomplice but Hare,—that
they perpetrated these fearful atrocities by suffocation. When they succeeded in making
their victims drunk, the one held the mouth and nostrils, whilst the other went upon the
body, and in this manner was the woman Docherty killed; they then sold her body to
Doctor ——in his rooms, and received payment at his house—and that they were
never Resurrectionests; all the bodies they sold being murdered, except one, who died
a natural death in Hare's house.
At an early hour on Tuesday, he was taken in a coach from the jail on the Calton-hill
to the Lock-up, a prison immediately adjacent to the place of execution. He spent the
day in silence, reading, and devotion, and on Tuesday night he slept soundly for several
hours. About seven o'clock, the two Catholic clergymen arrived, and were admitted into
the cell, and they were soon after followed by the Rev. Mr Marshall: The religious cer-
emonies being performed, he talked firmly, declared that death had no terrors, and expres-
sed a hope of pardon and happiness. During the night, Burke stated that he was happy,
that he had at last been arrested in his career of crime, and brought to justice. Though
he had been a great offender, yet he rested on the atonement of the Saviour for salvation.
When the irons were knocked off, he exclaimed, " Thank God these are off, and all will be
off shortly." Shortly after eight o'clock, the procession set out for the place of execution.
Bailies Crichton and Small, with a party of town officers, first ascended the scaffold,
and they were followed by Burke, supported by the two Catholic Clergymen. He was
dressed in decent black clothes, and was perfectly firm and composed. The moment he
appeared, the crowd set up an appalling shout, which continued for several minutes. The
murderer and the Catholic clergymen then knelt down and spent a few minutes in devotion,
and the religious exercises were concluded by a prayer from the Rev. Mr Marshall. As
soon as the executioner proceeded to do his duty, the cries of " Burke him, Burke him,
give him no rope," and many others of a similar complexion, were vociferated in voices
loud with indignation. Burke, in the mean time, stood perfectly unmoved, and gazed
around till the cap was drawn over his face, and shut the world for ever from his view.
The executioner having completed his preparations and placed the signal in Burke's
hand, the magistrates, ministers, and attendants left the scaffold. The crowd again set up
another long and loud cheer, which was followed by cries for " Hare, Hare!" " Where is
Hare ? " " Hang Hare!" and so on. Burke lifted his hands and ejaculated a prayer of a
few sentences—then dropt the napkin, and momently the drop fell. The struggle was
neither long nor apparently severe; but at every convulsive motion, a loud huzza arose
from the multitude, which was several times repeated even after the last agonies of human-
ity were past. During the time of the wretched man's suspension, not a single indica-
tion of pity was observable among the vast crowd—on the contrary, every countenance
wore the lively aspect of a gala day, while puns and jokes on the occasion were freely
bandied about, and produced bursts of laughter and merriment, which were not confined
to the juvenile spectators alone—" Burke Hare too !" " Wash blood from the land ! " " One
cheer more '" and similar exclamations, were repeated in different directions, until the
culprit was cut down, about nine o'clock, when one general and tremendous huzza closed
the awful exhibition—and the multitude immediately thereafter began to disperse.
Burke's body is to be dissected, and his Skeleton to be preserved, in order that pos-
terity may keep in remembrance his atrocious crimes.