The True Story Of A Woman Who Was Resurrected From The Dead

She continued to live (again) for another 40 years.

Photo by tony hernandez on Unsplash

Margaret Dickson was born in 1702 in Musselburgh, Scotland. She was a fish and salt merchant who married a local fisherman. But soon after getting married, he quickly moved away. According to historical reports, her husband was either conscripted into the Royal Navy or moved to Newcastle, searching for employment.

Maggie decided to start working in an inn, in a town called Kelso, to earn a little bit of money. There, she became pregnant, reportedly by the innkeeper’s son, quite quickly. But since she was scared of getting evicted and losing her job, Maggie proceeded to keep the pregnancy secret.

After giving birth, the baby was either stillborn or murdered. Historical reports claim that she couldn’t put the body in the water, so she decided to lay it by the River Tweed. Shortly after, the baby’s corpse was identified, and a doctor concluded that the infant had been alive, but only for a short time.

Maggie was initially charged with concealing pregnancy, but the crimes were eventually changed to manslaughter after an investigation. Thus, Maggie was quickly convicted by an all-male jury, leaving the judge with no alternative but to sentence her to death by hanging.

Maggie supposedly pleaded her innocence all the way to her date of execution. However, the hangman, John Dalgleish, did his job. On September 2, 1724, she was hanged by the throat in front of a large audience that showed no respect or sympathy for the young woman, even though she was just 22 or 23 years old.

At the time, only the corpses of executed prisoners could be used for dissection. Therefore, Edinburgh’s medical faculties needed every corpse it could get. However, her family furiously fought (and won) the battle for custody of her body against a group of medical students.

While transporting her coffin to Musselburgh for burial, Maggie’s family and friends stopped at an inn for refreshments. But when one of the coffin-bearers turned to look at the coffin, he saw the lid shifting. Knocking could be heard, so the lid was immidiately lifted.

Maggie Dickson, who was still very much alive, was taken out of the coffin and ultimately resurrected from the dead. Then, she was able to resume her trip home despite being a little sore around the throat.

Since Maggie was alive after being executed, the law was unclear as to what should be done. So the local authorities debated the case and heard compelling evidence that a miracle from God had occurred. However, since a coroner had already pronounced her dead, it was determined that she could not be killed a second time for her crimes.

Maggie had therefore avoided being killed for her alleged manslaughter, and lived for approximately 40 years before dying a second time in 1765.

Experts claim that Maggie seduced her hangman in prison, and he loosened the rope to let her live. However, since it happened such a long time ago, and there is minimal historical documentation, the true events preceding her death are unclear.

Maggie’s husband then returned to Musselburgh, and the two were remarried — since her supposed death had parted them (according to the marriage vows). Unfortunately, the rest of her life is lost in history. However, the true story of “half hangit-maggie” is certainly an interesting one that has lived on for many centuries.

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