First story I will tell is about Maggie Dickson. If you remember from my last post I shared that only famous people get a pub named after them in Edinburgh. So here is Maggie's story.
Maggie's story takes place in the Grass Market. The Grass Market wasn't just used as a market. It was also where the hangings took place.
So, Maggie Dickson was a woman who was married to a man. She either left him or just went and cheated on him, and ended up being impregnated by a different man. She kept her pregnancy a secret by telling no one, and wearing clothes that hid her belly. When the baby was born (still no one knew) she took it to the river and left the baby beside the river. She was soon arrested. What was she arrested for? Because it was a law back then that it was illegal to conceal the fact that you were pregnant. The penalty? Death by hanging.
Soon Maggie was hung in front of everyone who wanted to watch (which was usually large crowds because it was like their equivalent to college game day). She was to be hung until pronounced dead. So they hung her and after a while the doctor there said that was enough and that she would be dead. They put her body into a wooden coffin and nailed the top shut. After the coffin was sealed a man drove the coffin to her hometown, and the spectators started parting ways.
The man was driving the wagon when he heard a pounding sound. He checked all around the wagon and he didn't see anything so he continued. He heard the sound again. So he stopped and looked around again not seeing anything, but was closer to it when it sounded again. He looked at the coffin. He started taking all the nails out and moved the lid. Maggie sat up gasping for breath. She wasn't dead! The man pushed her back into the coffin and nailed it shut, and drove right back into town. "She's alive!! Come back everyone! She's alive!" People started coming back to the market expecting to see another hanging!! (overtime)
Until a lawyer in the crowd said no way. You cannot rehang her. The law states that she was to be hung until pronounced dead, and she was already pronounced dead. So Maggie was off the hook and got to live! So when other hangings occurred it was said that she would go up to the person and say relax, the first time it's not that bad.
Burke and Hare Murders
My next story is about murders that took place in 1828. I showed a picture in my last post of body snatcher cages they used so people wouldn't take the bodies. Well, William Burke and William Hare figured out a different method.
One day a little old lady was crying outside her door. William Burke saw her and asked what was wrong. She told him that was staying with her (had been renting a room for a few months) died in his sleep last night! He said well it's alright. The lady was still devastated because he had owed her 4 pounds. That was a full months rent, and she would not get by without that money. The man said not to worry, he would take care of the body and get her her money.
So Burke got his best friend William Hare and they took the body to the University of Edinburgh to Doctor Knox. The University of Edinburgh at the time was one of the most advanced medical schools in the world making progress. They used bodies frequently for their anatomy classes, and for other teachings. Burke and Hare took the body to Dr. Knox and he gave them 7 pounds for the body!! The men were thrilled. They went to the lady gave her her 4 pounds, and keep the last 3 pounds for themselves.
What did they do next you ask?? Well they were proper Irish men, so they went to the pub and drank and drank and drank and drank for days. The 3 pounds they earned was enough to buy them 500 pints......each. After days of drinking and then maybe a few to sober up they realized how much money they had made and how easy it was. So they decided they were going to get Dr. Knox some more bodies. Now body snatching was so common back then that it was almost difficult to get the task done due to guards or cages like the one above in the picture. So they decided to skip those messy steps and kill unimportant people and get Dr. Knox fresh bodies.
They had killed around 16 people when they killed a prostitute and sold her. It just so happens that one of the medical students went to class that day and recognized her from the previous weekend...he had a little.. uh.. fun. He was curious as to how she had died when just last weekend she was, uh, up and moving pretty well should we say. He told the cops and they did some investigation. They found the men and went into their house where they had their latest victim laying just under the bed. That wasn't enough to get them convicted. So the cops took the men and put them in separate rooms. They knew that William Burke was pretty intelligent and was most likely the brains behind this grand idea. So the cops went to Hare and said look, if you tell us that Burke did it, did everything and it was all his idea, then we will let you go free. Hares said look, I grew up with that man, he has been my best friend for ages and we moved from Ireland to come over here. And, yep he did it. It was all him. I didn't do anything.
They let Hare go and he fled the country (the citizens of Edinburgh weren't too pleased with the men). Burke was sentenced to be hung. But people were mad. Real mad. They didn't want him to get off that easy. So on the day of the hanging between 20,000-25,000 people showed up. (I told you these were a big deal.. this one was the superbowl) He was hung and then dragged behind a wagon for all to see his dead body as it went all through the crowd so everyone could get a good look. There wasn't much skin left on the backside. The next day the body was taken to the University to be dissected in anatomy class. So many people wanted to see the dissection, but there weren't enough tickets/seats that a riot almost broke out. They wrote messages with his blood.
To this day his skull is on display at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. We didn't make the trip to go see it, but nonetheless interesting story.
For the last story I will leave you on a happier note.
There was this man who was a grave keeper and ended up being a little lonely around graves all day, so he bought a little "guard dog" (to also help keep away body snatchers). However this dog isn't very big or fierce. Here is a little statue of him below. (Not a animal person, as you know, so I do not know what kind of dog this is.)
Anyway, this was the most loyal dog and stuck by his owners side all day and all night. After only two years together the owner passed away, and was buried. The dog being the loyal dog he is sat on his owners grave for days and days and days. Dogs were not allowed to be unowned and would have been taken away. But the city council was amazed by this dog still not leaving his owner that they adopted the dog so it wouldn't be taken away. There were no dogs allowed in the grave yard where the owner was buried, but all the dog did was sit on his grave... day and night. Days turn to weeks which turned to months which turned to years. They didn't have the heart to kick the dog out of the grave yard so they let him and only him be allowed. The dog stayed by his owners side for 14 years. That is when the little dog passed away himself.
He could not be buried by his owners side, because only members of the church (or same faith) were allowed to be buried there and they didn't know which faith the dog was. So the dog was buried as close as he could be without breaking any church/city laws. (Forgot to mention the dog's name was Bobby. Just thought of it. ;)
This is his grave. People come from all over the world to give gifts to Bobby and share love.
When you walk out of the grave yard there is a sign that says "No dogs allowed" ironic?
This is the same grave yard that the body snatcher cage above is in as well as all my Harry Potter people :)
And guess what else was done for Bobby.. this famous, famous dog. You guessed it....
He now has a pub named after him.
(The grave yard is right behind this pub).
I still have more to share about Edinburgh believe it or not!! I will be finishing the posts this week, so check back for more about Edinburgh (if you aren't tired of it yet!)
GOOD NEWS: for anyone who has tried to comment but needed an account.. have no fear! I have found the magical settings button where I change it so anyone can comment (otherwise what would the fun be?!) However, if you don't have an account it will be anonymous, so please put your name so I can comment back! (I will anyways, but would like to know who the commenter is :)
Great!! Have a good week everyone! And come back later for some more Scotland fun!
P.S. I will have a new pet tomorrow.