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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/377

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Burkhead
Burkitt
371

evil of the two men, suggested a further stroke of business, namely, to inveigle unknown and obscure wayfarers into the lodging-house and then kill them. During the following months they, assisted by their wives, murdered at least fifteen persons, their method of proceeding being to invite the victims into various homes, make them drunk, and then suffocate them in such a manner that no signs of violence appeared on the bodies. The corpses of all these were sold to Dr. Knox’s school of anatomy for prices averaging from 8l. to 14l. At last, on 31 Oct. 18, they suffocated, in Burke’s house, a poor old woman, called Margery Campbell or Docherty, and disposed of the body in the usual manner; but the suspicions of the neighbours having been aroused, the police were communicated with, and the corpse was found in a box in a cellar in Dr. Knox’s house. Burke was tried for the murder in the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh on 24 Dec. 1828, when William Hare, the partner in his crimes, being admitted king's evidence, his guilt was clearly proved, and he was hanged on 28 Jan. 1829 amid the execrations of a vast assemblage, who cried out ‘Burke him!’ ‘Burke him!'

William Hare was a native of Londonderry, and, going to Scotland, also worked on the Union canal; he afterwards became a travelling huckster, and then, as before mentioned, a keeper of a lodging-house. Immediately after. the trial of Burke an attempt was made to indict Hare for the murder of one of his victims, James Wilson, known as Daft Jamie, who had been put out of the way in the previous October. The law officers, however, decided that he could not legally be put on his trial, and on 5 Feb. 1829 he was set at liberty from the Tolbooth, Edinburgh. It is believed that he then sought refuge in England, and as it is more than probable that he changed his name, it is not surprising that no record has been found of his decease.

[The Trial of William Burke (1829), portrait; supplement to the Trial of W. Burke (1829); MacGregor's Hist. of Burke and Hare, with portraits (1884); Lonsdale's Life and Writings of Robert Knox (1370), pp. 73–115; Cassell's O1d and New Edinburgh, by James Grant (1882), ii. 226-30.]

G. C. B.


BURKHEAD, HENRY (fl. 1645), dramatist, a merchant of Bristol, was author of a tragedy, ‘Cola’s Fury, or Lirenda’s Misery,’ which was never acted, and probably was not written for the stage (Baker). It was published at Kilkenny in 1646, on the cessation of arms granted by Lord Herbert, earl of Glamorgan, to whom it is effusively dedicated. It is an attempt to dramatise the Irish troubles. Lirenda is an obvious anagram for Ireland. The plot is confused and the language bombastic. Yet the author was assured by one friend that if his play were published the ‘fame of ne'er-enough-praised Shakespeare would decline,’ and others praised his work in similar terms.

[Burkhead's Works; Baker's Biog. Dram.]

R. C. B.


BURKITT, WILLIAM (1650–1703), divine and commentator, was born at Hitcham, Suffolk, on 25 July 1650. His father was the Rev. Michael, usually called Miles Burkitt (otherwise Birkhead), of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, who began his career as a zealous high-churchman, and ended his days in non-conformity. At the Restoration Miles Burkitt lost the rich rectory of Hitcham. Some time afterwards he was presented to the rectories of Irstead and Neatishead, Norfolk, but was ejected within three months by the Act of Uniformity (1662). He also lost the manor of Eleigh-Monks, Suffolk, belonging to the dean and chapter of Canterbury, which he had purchased from the commonwealth commissioners, and which cost him, with improvements, 25001, he continued to live at Eleigh-Monks, and ultimately prospered; when he died is unknown. ‘Though,’ he said, ‘I have lost many scores of pounds by my nonconformity, yet, blessed be God, I never wanted.’ His wife was a Sparrow, of Reade, Suffolk.

William Burkitt’s position was that of an evangelical churchman. His early training was under Goffe, at Bildeston, Suffolk, and at the grammar schools of Stowmarket and Cambridge. He dates his religious conversion from an attack of small-pox while at the latter school. On 28 Jan. 1665 he was admitted a sizar at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, his tutor being William Gibbs. In 1666, when Cambridge was visited with the plague, he was one of the few students who remained in residence. He graduated B.A. in 1668, M.A. in 1672; but was never a fellow, as is sometimes stated. He left the university to become chaplain at Bildeston Hall, and after this was ordained by Bishop Reynolds at a very early age; for either in 1671, the year of his majority, or at the beginning of 1672, he was settled at Milden, Suffolk, first as curate in charge, afterwards as rector. In December 1692 he was preferred to the vicarage and lectureship of Dedham, Essex, where he ended his days. While at Milden he was intimate with William Gurnall, rector of the neighbouring parish of Lavenham, the author of ‘The Christian in Compleat