William Hare

? - c.1860

Resurrectionist and Murderer. An Irish navvy who came to Scotland with his partner William Burke, to work on the Union Canal. They turned to a more lucrative occupation, obtaining bodies for Dr Robert Knox the anatomist, based in Edinburgh University's Medical School. Initially the pair are said to have satisfied their employer by digging up freshly buried corpses, but they quickly resorted to murder. They were captured after killing 16 people, the so-called 'West Port Murders'. In 1829, Hare and his wife hurriedly left Edinburgh after the trial at which he had given evidence against Burke in return for immunity. He was almost killed when a large mob broke into his hotel room in Dumfries, as he tried to flee back to Ireland. Hare changed his plans and instead went to England. He is thought to have died in poverty in London.

The murders inspired The Body Snatcher (1884), a short-story by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94); a play The Anatomist (1930) by James Bridie (1888 - 1951) and two Holywood films; The Body Snatcher (1945) and Burke and Hare (2010).

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