The Legend Of Half Hangit Maggie Dickson

Episode 3: The Legend Of Half Hangit Maggie Dickson

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The Legend of Half Hangit Maggie

In This Episode:

The story of Half Hangit Maggie is legendary in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket and is a story universally known about the woman who survived a date with the hangman.

Having come across Maggie’s story many times while researching body snatching, I decided to take in more detail at this remarkable woman and retell her story, one more time. From her time in Musselburgh when her husband deserted her, to the moment she wakes up in her coffin while outside an Inn at Peffermill, join me as I look again at this legendary figure.

Taking Things Further & Recommended Reading

If you’d like to see this episode written in full on my blog post, in all its glory with pictures and full links to other blog posts etc. then you can find it here. I also mention Burke and Hare’s victim Abigail Simpson, and you can read the blog post in full here

I recently came across Alison Butler’s book on Maggie  The Hanging of Margaret Dickson’ and although I’ve yet to read it, the author interview carried out by Unearthed Podcast sold it to me and it’s on my ‘must read’ list. it is from this book that I discovered the name of Maggie’s husband, Patrick Spence.

An excellent FREE  online resource called ‘Inveresk Parish Lore From Pagan Times’ can help you piece together snippets from this Scottish parish.

The broadside ‘The Particulars of the Life, Trial, Character and Behaviour of Margaret Dickson’, which was published in 1813 and has a few glaringly obvious errors, but can be accessed for FREE on the National Library of Scotland website and the section ‘The Word on The Street

If you’d like to look at Margaret’s story in the newspapers, it often appears in various different snippets. Access to the newspapers is via the British Newspaper Archive (£) and the account retelling the soldier’s experience at the gallows can be found in The Scots Magazine  Thursday, 1 December 1808, page 25. 

I've been researching the macabre world of body snatching since 2005 when I looked at the topic in depth for my Under Grad dissertation. Since then, I've been absolutely fascinated by this often forgotten side of Britain's history.