Two family accounts of Travellers being attacked by burkers....

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Title - Two family accounts of Travellers being attacked by burkers....
Contributors - John Stewart
Reporters - Dr Sheila Douglas

Summary - Two family accounts of Travellers being attacked by burkers.

At the time of the burkers, Travellers were looked down upon and the police did not bother to investigate if they disappeared. John Stewart's mother often told her family the following story. When she was six or seven, she was with her mother, Belle Reid, and an aunt known as the Big Dummy, who had to be carried in a chair. John's uncle Rob was also there, with his Spanish cuddy [donkey]. They made camp in a wood. A coach (machine) was seen, so Rob put out the fire, killed a little dog that they had so that it wouldn't bark, and carried the Big Dummy on his back to a mail-house where he knew the people. [Break to turn tape.] The burkers arrived. They were dressed like Dr Crippen in lum hats [top hats] and tippets [i.e. capes]. The mailman's dog attacked the burkers' dog, and one of them shot it. When the Travellers returned to their camp, it had been torn apart, and the donkey was cut open and hanging from a tree.

John's mother's family then went to Deeside, where they camped with some others. The doctors came out from Aberdeen and caught a pregnant woman when she went for water. The men heard her screams and chased the coach. The burkers threw her out. They had tied her inside a wool bag with a plaster over her mouth. She was in hospital for a long time recovering from the fall.

Track Duration (h:m:s) - 00:01:29
Date Recorded - 1979.01
Language - English, Scots
Genre - Story, Information
Collection - School of Scottish Studies

Track ID - 75777
Original Tape ID - SA1979.167
Original Track ID - SA1979.167
Audio Quality - Fair
Audio Format - R2R

Item Notes - John Stewart's Down's syndrome son, Bennie, is heard in the background.
The term 'burker' comes from William Burke, of Burke and Hare, who went beyond bodysnatching and committed murder in order to sell the bodies for dissection; Burke was hanged in 1829.

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