Leith Local History Society

1742 — Trouble in the Kirkyard

In 1742 many people in South Leith had their suspicions about George Carkettle the grave-maker. They thought that he was selling bodies to anatomists.

This came to a head one July evening when Robert Henderson, a Custom House porter, and his wife approached him at about 8 o’clock at night ‘in a furious manner and most basely abused and calumniated him’ alleging that he had sold a body that had been buried three weeks earlier. They then got together a mob and broke into the Kirkyard and dug open the grave - where they found the body.

George Carkettle was frequently charged with drunkenness and incivility and was eventually dismissed.