Found: gown of judge that made a Burke of William


THE gown worn by the judge at the trial of Scottish murderer William Burke has been found lying discarded in a trunk after being forgotten about for 200 years.

The judicial robes of David Boyle, known as The Black Man, were found locked up in a store cupboard along with a suit at Kelburn Castle in Ayrshire.


Boyle was the presiding judge at Burke’s trial over the famousWestPortmurders – a series of grim slayings between November 1827 and October 1828 where he and his accomplice William Hare killed 17 people.


The body merchants who profited from killing people and selling their bodies to science


The 2010 film Burke and Hare showed that the body merchants, played by Simon Pegg and voice-of-Gollum star Andy Serkis respectively, sold the bodies to an Edinburgh medical fraternity who dissected them in order to know more about the human anatomy.

But now Patrick Boyle, the current Earl of Glasgow and David’s great-great-great-great-great-great nephew, said the biggest find in 800 years of family will go to auction.

David Boyle was Lord Justice Clerk at the time of Burke’s trial and went on to become Lord Justice General for Scotland.

He was known for his “ardent and zealous” temper which lead to his ominous moniker.

On sentencing Burke to death he apparently expressed regret that Burke’s body could not be gibbeted – where he would be chained in a cage and hung on display.

Burke’s skeleton is still on display at Edinburgh’s University Museum.

Lord Glasgow, a Liberal Democrat peer, said: “The Burke and Hare murders are among the most notorious crimes to have been committed in Scotland.

“To have a relic so closely associated with the case is a significant find which adds to Kelburn’s importance as a central place to the nation’s history.”