Back in 1828 in Edinburgh, Scotland, there were a number of murders committed over a period of about ten months. 16 people were killed in total and this spree would later become known as the Burke and Hare murders, due to the fact that it was William Burke and William Hare who had committed the crimes.
At the time Edinburgh could have been considered to be a leading European centre with regards to anatomical study, whilst also suffering from a shortage of legal cadavers due to the fact that Scottish law required that all corpses used for medical supply should only come from those who had died whilst being locked up in prison, suicide victims, or from abandoned children and orphans.
This law directly contributed to an increase in grave robbing, but later an even bigger effort to protect graves would be implemented leading to an even larger shortage. When a lodger in Hare’s house died, he turned to his friend Burke for advice and they both came to the conclusion that they would sell the body to Doctor Robert Knox for dissection at his anatomy lectures. This would be the catalyst to which sparked Burke and Hare’s killing spree.
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