Margaret (Maggie) Dickson

(Half Hangit Maggie)

c.1702 - ?

Maggie Dickson's Pub, Grassmarket, Edinburgh
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Maggie Dickson's Pub, Grassmarket, Edinburgh

Notorious Musselburgh fish-wife who came back from the dead. Dickson was publicly hanged in Edinburgh's Grassmarket in 1724 for killing her illegitimate baby. Her husband had been working in the fisheries at Newcastle for about a year, when Maggie found she was pregnant, and to conceal her shame, she killed her baby. Her body was taken down, placed in a coffin and transported back to Musselburgh for burial. However, as the cart carrying her rattled over the rough streets, she was shaken back to life. Her relatives heard a noise and opened the coffin to reveal indeed that Maggie was very much alive. She therefore earned the soubriquet of Half Hangit Maggie. On the basis that she had been pronounced legally dead, it was decided that she could not be executed for a second time and she was released to live a long and happy life, during which she ran a nearby ale-house and produced many further children.

She is remembered today in the name of a public house in West Bow, adjoining the Grassmarket.

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