Friday, 28 December 2007

Borman and the Body Snatcher

Allan Borman was the father of Frederick's wife Mary Jane Elizabeth Borman. During 1838-39 he attended a number of courses at Edinburgh's Old Surgeon's Hall.

From November 1838 to April 1839 he attended nineteen of twenty lectures on 'Nathology (?) and the Practice of Medicine'
and from 1st May to July 27th 1839 he attended a ten part course on 'Practical Chemistry and Pharmacy'. Both these were given by William Reid.

Allan Borman took two anatomy courses. Both consisted of twenty sessions, the first between 4th November 1837 and 23rd April 1838, the second between 6th November 1838 and 26th April 1839. These took place at Robert Knox's private Anatomy School in Surgeon's Square (pictured).

Knox was infamous for the role he played in receiving the murder victims of Burke and Hare. Between 1827-28 the pair, after selling on a pensioner who had died at Hare's lodging house, murdered a total of seventeen victims, each one bought by Knox. On two occassions students on Knox's course recognised the cadavers. Knox denied the bodys' identities but on one such corpse started the dissection with the face just to stop further interjections.

Hare later testified against Burke who was executed and himself used for medicial dissection. A note book bound with Burke's skin can still be seen at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.

An old family story also involves Allan Borman. It is told that one night he was awoken by a knock at the front door. On opening the door he was seized, blindfolded and taken to an unkown location. He was held for three days during which time he safely delivered a baby. Job done, he was once again blindfolded and dumped back on his door step in the middle of the night. Who the mystery mother and child were, or the reason for the secrecy we will never know.

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