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
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 riverbank.
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
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
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.