Burke's Confession

All ye that stand around me, I pray to you attend
Give ear unto my story, mark well my wretched end
There's not a friend around me for me will shed a tear
But every one rejoicing to see my end so near.

William Burke it is my name, in Ireland I was born
I left a wife behind me there, my shameful end to mourn
It was for Scotland I was bound, employment to find
No thought of cruel murder was then into my mind.

I sought and found employment to work in a canal
It was there I met McDougall which proved my downfall
And from my honest labour he caused me to stray
And from our grieving parents we both did run away.

Edinburgh trade being very dull, no work there could be found
We then prepared to leave, it was for Glasgow bound
While stopping at the West Port, to get refreshments there,
I never will forget the how I met wi' Willie Hare.

We being strangers in the place we thought him very kind
And little knew the hard thoughts that Hare had in his mind
He showed us through his lodging house, it was upon our way,
This man he kept poor lodgers and stole their lives away.

To assist in this cruel murder at first I was afraid
But soon my heart grew hardened and I followed out the trade.
Now I do keep a lodging house, supported by this man
And the price the doctors gave for them, we murdered many a one.

The first one that I murdered long made my conscience smart
Her agonizing piercing cries sank deep into my heart
But with undaunted fury I soon did stop her cries
Each night I thought I saw her before my very eyes.

To keep down suspicion, we went out at a back door,
The doctors always bought them and told us to bring more.
To assist in this cruel murder, at last I thought no ill
Till sixty men and women I willingly did kill.

It's nae the murdering of them that caused my disgrace
But the murdering of a little child that smiled into my face
I did not mean to harm it, it was so very mild
But my wife she swore she would discover me if I did not kill that child.

But I am now discovered and landed into jail
I well knew I was guilty so my heart began to fail
It was Hare that ensnared me, and led me astray,
But now he's turned King's evidence and sworn my life away.

But now they have discovered him, from his country he must fly,
And a harder fate awaits him yet before the day he die
But now the cap's drawn o'er my face, and hides me from all view,
My cruel life is at an end so I bid you all adieu.

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Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin