Burke and Hare murders


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Burke and Hare murders

A series of homicides (17 in total) in Edinburgh, 1827–8, perpetrated by Irish immigrants William Burke and William Hare, who sold the cadavers to Doctor Robert Knox, a private anatomist and lecturer of students from Edinburgh Medical College.

Context
In early 19th-century Scotland, bodies for studying anatomy were provided in two ways:
(1) Legal—from hanged murderers, whose cadavers were fresh, which was allowed by the Murder Act 1732; or
(2) Illegal—via grave-robbers (“Resurrectionists”), who provided bodies in varying states of decay.

The Anatomy Act 1832 expanded the group of decedents who could be legally dissected to include those who died in prison and workhouses, and allowed donation of bodies to anatomists in exchange for burial fees.
References in periodicals archive ?
What can there be new to say about the Burke and Hare murders? In Edinburgh in 1827-28 William Burke and William Hare killed sixteen people to supply anatomists with corpses for dissection.
In fact, there is not a lot that is staggeringly new to say about the Burke and Hare murders. Rosner has not written a whodunit revealing another culprit in the "returning to Jack the Ripper" mode.