Newspaper Article About William Burke's Life

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Newspaper Article About William Burke's Life




Text reading: LlFfi OF WILLIAM BURKE. Burke wm born in the parish of Orrey, county Tyrone, in Ireland, in the spring of 1792. His parents wete poor, but respectable, anil in the fond hope that their sons might one day rise above the toil, poverty, and irksome dependence of the Irish cottars, they gave them better education than was then common among their caste of their countrymen. When Burke was at school, he was distinguished as an apt scholar, a cleanly, active* good-looking boy, and though his parents were strict Catholics, he was taken into the service of a Presbyterian clergyman, who requested them to allow him to reside with him, to run messages and attend in the hall. When he outgrew the Minister’s work, he was recommended by him to gentleman in Straban, in whose employment remained for several years. Becoming anxious to learn some trade, agreed with a baker in the above town, bat he remained with him only five months. next became a linen-weaver, but he soon got disgusted with the close application that was essential to earn a livelihood that poorlypaid, irksome employment, and he enlisted in the Donegal militia. His brother Constantine had then attained the rank of non-commissioned officer in that corps, and William being, as before observed, cleanly, smart fellow, he was selected by an officer for his servant, and demeaned himself with the strictest fidelity and propriety. While in the army, he married a woman in Ballinha, in the county Mayo, and after seven years’ service, the regiment was disbanded, and he went home to his wife. He shortly afterwards obtained the situation of groom and body-servant to a gentle- man in that vicinity, with whom he remained for three years. As there was then a great demand for labourers for the Union Cana), he abandoned his wife, and came to Scotland. This woman never had any children, and, so far as is known, she yet survives, and resides in Ballinha. He commenced work at the Canal, near the village of Muiravonside ; he took jobs, which he let out to his countrymen ; and it was there he became acquainted with the woman M'Dougal. She then resided under her parents’ roof, and tbough tolerably good-looking, merry, and good-natured, she was considered of easy virtue. She soon became remarkably fond of Burke—she followed him every where—she frequently carried him spirits and beer to refresh him when at his heavy toil in the hot and sultry days summer—and at last, by her conduct, reducing to practice the fanciful theory of the Poet, "Curse on all laws, save those which love has made!” she put herself fairly under his protection, and fled with him from the house of her afflicted parents. Though it rarely happens in such circumstances, her confidence was not misplaced; Burke treated her with the greatest kindness, acknowledged her as bis wife, and she was passionately fond of him in return. Rather than give the least information regarding the murderous deeds of her ruthless husband, she boldly stood her trial with him, and though she escaped, she wept bitterly when separated from him for ever by the stern mandate of the law. This flagrant violation of a solemn and sacred contract—this contemptuous disregard of the best feelings of human nature —this gross outrage on morality, common decency, and the laws of the country, was the first guilty step in Burke’s life. he had ever afterwards no fixed place of residence, no particular calling, but wandered about the country picking up scanty .and wretched subsistence, it may be considered decisive of bis future destiny. Indeed, times without number, in the bitterest accents of regret, he attributed the commencement of his iniquitous career, to his inclination for the company of depraved women. On leaving Muiravonside, Burke and his paramour went to the east country to the harvest. When the shearing was concluded, he came into Edinburgh, and lodged some time with man of the name of Cullen, who then resided in the West Port. He had acquired a partial knowledge of shoe-mending while in the militia, but being unknown, he got very little rather no employment. He repaired to Leith in search of work, and wrought some time with an eccentric character, Charles M'Granachan, a countryman of his own. was soen tired M'Granachan's heavy work and small wages, and he went and laboured in the country. He engaged again on the canal near W’insburgh, but left it and went a second time to the harvest. He next re- sided in Peebles for sonic time, where he wrought on the roads, or took jobs at hedging, ditching, and trenching, and was, in short, considered an industrious and efficient sort of master-of-all-work in the labouring way. It has been already mentioned, that was brought a professor of the Catholic faith, but he occasionally attended Protestant places of worship ; he was no bigot, or rather he was then indifferent about the dogmas and denunciations, the promises and consolations, of all creeds. He generally spent the Sundays in drinking and unholy revelry with the wretches he had in his employment. From Peebles went a third time to the harvest, and when the crops were cut down, he returned to this city. Next day he went out in pursuit of some way of subsistence, but, after long and fruitless inquiry, he and Macdougal resolved visit Glasgow. When passing through the West Port, on their way to the canal-boat, they went into a house for refreshment. Fatally for them they there met Hare’s wife, who persuaded Ibein to stop few days in her room; and there Burke, it is believed, was initiated into the appalling trade of kidnapping and murdering his fellow | creatures, and trafficking in their bodies. In the present state of affairs it would be highly imprudent to say anything respecting Hare’s ptevioas life and transactions. Over the entry leading to his horrid shambles, Beds to let” was painted in large letters, and his general charge was three-pence a night. Shortly after he had taken Burke into his domicile, a poor forlorn man arrived from a part of the kingdom which it is needles to name, and after sonic time’s illness expired. inquiry after him being made, the body was sold for dissection. The money being expended, Burke sallied out for the first lime in search of a person in whose, blood might imbrue his hands. In short time he fell in with a woman well up in years, who belonged a village a few miles south of this city, and decoyed her to Hare’s abode. The usual preparations being completed, Burke sprung like a tiger an his unsuspecting victim; he was then only novice in murder —the struggle was severe, but humanity would shrink at the appalling details. In our impressien of the instant it was mantioned, that while Burke was in the Lock-up after his conviction, in alluding to the great difficalty he experienced in bereaving this unhappy woman life, he staled that “for long time after he had murdered his first victim, he found it utterly impossible to banish for a single’hour the recollection of the fatal struggle the screams distress and despair —the agonising ruan( and all the realities of the dreadful deed. At night the tragedy, accompanied frightful visions of supernatural beings, tormented him in his dreams. For long time he shuddered at the thought being alone in the dark—during the night he kept light constantly burning hio bed-aide, but ultimately became so callous, that a murder added but little to hi* mental angui*.’’ He was man of remarkably strong passions— he was good-tempered —by no meant of a quarrelsome disposition, but when once roused isto a passion, he became altogether nngoveraablc—deaf to reason and utterly reckless, raged like a fury, aad to tame fain was no easy task. Such is a few words have been the H' n dents in the life of William Burke. The nawative, short and unvarnished as it is, aftords P. j terials for grave and serious consideration. , it is truly said, is the worst of crimes, and .a lew months Burke has attained the summit of the eminence” of being the worst of murderers, i tie long and dark array of common thieves, urg rs, Jobbers, and homicides, dwindle into absolute insignificance when brought in jy*!*!’®* 1 ' on , WI this Colossus in crime. His name will stand conspicuous—it will mark an era in the black record human delinquency, and future ages will shudder at his horrid deeds, and fling back their curses on the natne which the inhuman monster bore. Scotsman.


Morning Advertiser Newspaper




Jan 31, 1829


Will Fuss




Newspaper Article

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Morning Advertiser Newspaper, “Newspaper Article About William Burke's Life,” Enlightenmens, accessed November 30, 2022,

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