A picaresque story of encounters with burkers.

Date 1956
Track ID 14364
Part 1
Part 2

Track Information

Original Track ID

SA1956.179.3; SA1956.180.1

Original Tape ID



A picaresque story of encounters with burkers.

When he was fourteen, instead of going to school in Blairgowrie, Jock Higgins followed his brothers, who were going to Glasgow, playing the pipes from door to door. In Edinburgh, he got lost on a foggy night, and was given accommodation by an old lady. The bed halfert [halved] in two and he went down into a sewer. He came out naked by the sea, where a lady found him and brought him clothes and food. A young man directed him to a farm for the night. He was to share a bed with the farmer's three sons. He overheard the farmer planning to kill him, so he crept to the back of the bed, and the son who had directed him was killed instead. He put on the son's clothes and ran away. The family chased him, and he took refuge with an old woman [change of tape] who helped him to kill the pursuers and dispose of the bodies over a cliff. In the son's clothes he found money and a gold watch and chain, but he gambled it all away and ended up in a stonebreaker's dusty white suit.

On the road again, in pitch dark, he was pursued by a big black cab like a hearse. He took refuge at a farm, where an old man warned him that he had heard the farmer and his wife talking about doctors. He and the old man left, but were caught. When the drivers went into a hotel to eat, Jock drove away, whipping the horses, with bodies falling out of the machine [i.e. vehicle]. When he got back to his family's camp and they heard his story they were relieved that he hadn't ended up in Glasgow College.

Maurice Fleming adds that Jock always tells the story in the same way, and finds that he can only tell it in the first person. It has to be told as true, and Jock won't say where he got it from. It is unusual, for a burker story, in being told in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek way.

Recording Location

County - Perthshire

Parish - Blairgowrie

Village/Place - Blairgowrie


English, Scots



Source Type

Reel to reel

Audio Quality