Robert Knox


dr_knoxDr Knox was an anatomist and ethnologist. He is one of several famous people buried at Brookwood who have an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Image on the left courtesy of Dr Brian Parsons

Knox was a distinguished anatomical lecturer, and was lecturer in Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh between 1825-41. Knox was also a leading teacher at Barclay's School of Anatomy which attracted record levels of students.

He was an enthusiast of practical dissection and the anatomy schools required a steady supply of "subjects" for these classes to attract students.

Burke and Hare

In 1827-28 William Burke and William Hare began to supply Dr Knox with suitable "subjects" for his classes. When their crimes were discovered during 1828, Knox was implicated, but was not asked to give evidence.

Hare turned King's evidence and Burke was subsequently hanged and dissected. Knox was popularly considered just as guilty. Riots took place near to his house and he found it increasingly difficult to find work in Edinburgh.

Knox moved to London in 1842 and was appointed pathological anatomist at the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital at Brompton.

The death mask of William Burke, who was executed in Edinburgh on 28 January 1829, is shown in the image above. William Hare's life mask is on the right. Photograph: Paul Kelbie/Observer

knox_graveDr Knox was buried in plot 100. The original memorial was a flat ledger stone which may or may not have included an inscription.

The small granite block on top of this ledger stone was placed there in 1966 by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

The following links give further information about Dr Knox:

Essay on the life of Dr Knox by I. MacLaren from the Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (2000), 45(6), 392-397
Essay on the life of "Robert Knox, Anatomist, Scientist and Martyr" by Andrew Currie from the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine (1932), 26(1), 39-46
Wikipedia entry for Dr Knox