Burke and Hare
In the house with Burke and Hare.
Burke's the butcher, Hare's the thief,
Knox, the boy who buys the beef.
19th-century Children's rhyme.
Burke and Hare were two debased Irishmen, resident in Edinburgh, who conceived a scheme of supplying bodies used for dissection in the early 19th century. Their method was to entice friendless people in their house in the West Port district in the Old Town, stupefy them with drinks and thereafter suffocate them and sell bodies to the porters at Dr Knox's anatomy rooms.
At least 16 people were thus done to death before Burke and Hare were apprehended and tried in December 1828.
The last of the bodies was found in Dr Knox's rooms and the hostility was therefore naturally directed first at him.
Burke was hanged in 1829 after Hare testified against him. Hare escaped the gallow but it is not certainly known what become of him after he escaped from the crowd in Edinburgh and made his journey to Dumfries.
The museum held various items related to the West Port murders, including life and death masks of both Burke and Hare, items from Dr Knox's collection and Burke's skeleton.