Maggie Dickson


Fishwife hanged and Recovered to long life

Margaret Dickson was hanged on the 2 September 1724 at Edinburgh.  Her crime was that of infanticide, namely that she had murdered her newborn baby.  She worked as a domestic and it was her story that she had become pregnant by one of the sons of the household, a common enough occurance.  So that she would not lose her job she concealed the fact she was pregnant and gave birth in secret.

According to her the child was born dead and so she had disposed of the body on the banks of the local river Tweed.  The small body was discovered later that same day.  Investigations led back to Margaret Dickson and when questioned she admitted the baby had been hers but maintained that it had already been dead and her only crime was in the way in which she tried to conceal the body.

She was tried at Edinburgh and although the evidence was weak was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.  As was usual in those days a large crowd gathered to witness the passing of Margaret Dickson and were not disappointed.  She was hanged and her body left suspended for the customary 30 minutes.  Her body was cut down and taken away in a coffin on a cart to be buried several miles away.  At one stage the driver of the cart had stopped for a break and thought he heard noises coming from the coffin.  He was right, for some unknown reason Margaret was not dead and had revived and was now trying to get out of the coffin.

This was perhaps seen as devine intervention and she was given a full pardon, she went on to live another 25 years.


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