Definition Homicidal suffocation accomplished by sitting on the victim’s chest with the hands placed over the mouth and nose.
Context In pre-Victorian Scotland, bodies for studying anatomy were either hanged murderers (Murder Act 1732), who arrived fresh at the dissection or supplied by a black market trade from grave-robbers (or so-called “resurrectionists”) at a price of 10 guineas. William Hare (1792/1804–?), who ran a boarding house in Edinburgh’s Tanner Row, and William Burke (1792-1829) formed a partnership, circumventing the unpleasantries of grave-robbing; the pair stood trial for “burking” 17 victims.
Dénouement Hare sung, Burke swung.