STORY OF MAGGIE DICKSON
Maggie Dickson lived in the Early Eighteenth century as
a fish hawker and would certainly have remained an anonymous
figure had she not been the subject of a public hanging.
Her misfortune began when her husband deserted her in 1723
forcing her to leave the city and move further south to
Kelso near the Scottish Borders. Here, she worked for an
inkeeper in return for basic lodgings.
Soon after she started an affair with the Innkeeper’s
son which led to her becoming pregnant, not wanting the
innkeeper to discover this as it would surely lead to her
instant dismissal she concealed her pregnancy as long as
possible. However the baby was born prematurely and died
within a few days of being born. Still hiding the baby's
existance she planned to put the baby into the River Tweed,
but couldn't bring herself to and finally left it on the
The same day the baby was discovered and traced to Maggie.
She was charged under the contravention of the Concealment
of Pregnancy Act and she was taken back to Edinburgh for
Trial and execution – the latter taking place in public
in the Grasssmarket on the 2nd September 1724.
After the hanging she was pronounced dead and her body
was bound for Musselburgh where she was to be buried, however
the journey was interrupted by a knocking and banging from
within the wooden coffin.
The lid was lifted to the sight of Maggie, quite alive.
The law saw it as God's will and she was freed to live for
a further forty years. She became something of a local celebrity
and the locals gave her the nickname 'Half Hangit' Maggie.'
Some said that she had seduced and manipulated the ropemaker,
to engineer a weaker noose.
A pub in the Grassmarket is named Maggie Dickson's after
her memory, which means her name and story will be remembered
for some time yet.