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Robert Knox
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Doctor
    (September 4, 1791-December 20, 1862)
    Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
    Surgeon, anatomist and zoologist
    Elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1823)
    Ran Barclay's anatomy school in Surgeon's Square, Edinburgh
    Descendant of Reformation leader John Knox
    Although he became a successful lecturer on anatomy, he failed his initial anatomy exam in med school.
    One biographer wrote, 'He was contentious, caustic, cynical, vain, evasive and spiteful.'
    To get bodies to dissect for his anatomy classes, he became Burke and Hare's customer.
    He failed to notice (or didn't give a rat's ass) that a lot of the bodies the pair were selling to him had died of suffocation.
    For that matter, he should have thought it a bit suspicious that some of the bodies Burke and Hare brought to him were still warm.
    When one of Hare's lodgers found the duo's latest victim and went to the police, they moved the body to the doctor's surgery, where police found it -- after breaking down the door when Knox refused to admit them.
    He was never prosecuted over his involvement with Burke and Hare.
    A bit of popular doggerel from the day: 'Burke's the butcher, Hare's the thief/Knox is the boy who buys the beef.'
    He treated the wounded at the battle of Waterloo.
    He was described as 'an enthusiastic raconteur, a gripping lecturer.'
    At his peak, three quarters of the students from the University of Edinburgh's medical school attended his lectures.
    He was burned in effigy and his house was stoned by a mob.
    Despite the whole 'aiding and abetting a pair of murderers' thing, he remained a popular lecturer, with his classes enduring until the University of Edinburgh made its own anatomy classes compulsory for its students.
    After he left Scotland for London, he wrote some popular books on fishing.

Credit: C. Fishel


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