Robert Knox

Scottish physician, anatomist, zoologist and ethnologist (1791-1862)

Robert Knox (4 September 1791 – 20 December 1862) was a Scottish anatomist, zoologist, ethnologist and doctor. He is best known for the Burke and Hare murders. Some of his work had controversy because he tried to prove that Anglo-Saxons were superior to other people.

Robert Knox c.1830


Robert Knox was born in Edinburgh's North Richmond Street to Mary and Robert Knox. His father was a teacher of mathematics and philosophy. He had smallpox as an infant, which blinded his left eye and changed his face.[1] He was educated at the Royal High School,[2] where he bullied his friends.[3]

In 1810, he joined medical classes in Edinburgh. He became interested in transcendentalism.[4]

Knox graduated from Edinburgh University in 1814.[5]

Knox married his wife Susan in 1824.[6]


  1. Bates, A.W. (2010). The Anatomy of Robert Knox: Murder, Mad Science and Medical Regulation in Nineteenth-Century Edinburgh. Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-84519-381-2.
  2. Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002: Biographical Index (PDF). II. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 8 February 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. Lonsdale, Henry (1870). A Sketch of the Life and Writings of Robert Knox, the Anatomist. London: Macmillan and Co. p. 5.
  4. Knox, Robert (1855). "Contributions to the philosophy of zoology, with spethat time. Redoubling his efforts, Knox passed very competently the second time around.cial reference to the natural history of man". Lancet. 2: 24-6, 45-6, 68-71, 162-4, 186-8, 216-18.
  5. Knox, Robert (1815). "On the relations subsisting between the time of the day, and various functions of the human body; and on the manner in which the pulsations of the heart and arteries are affected by muscular exertion". Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal. 11: 52-65.
  6. Wilsone, W. Syme (1863). "The late Dr Robert Knox". Lancet. 1: 49.

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