Edinburgh Scotland is one of Britain’s most beautiful medieval cities but its dark history is something that lingers beneath the surface like the coal embedded in its ancient sandstone buildings. One of Edinburgh’s most infamously bleak stories is the one of Deacon Brodie who was the inspiration behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
In addition to being a cabinetmaker, Deacon Brodie was a prestigious member of the town council; but by night he transformed into a sinister presence draped in a cloak who burglarized homes. He led a secret unscrupulous life hanging out with the derelicts of Edinburgh society in brothels, pubs and gambling dens. His debauched lifestyle resulted in an entourage of undesirables who supported Brodie’s clandestine side business. This thievery enabled Deacon Brodie to pay off the mounds of debts he had accumulated as a gambler.
The relationships he forged as an 18th century councilman resulted in a level of trust which enabled him to contract work as a locksmith for some well-to-do socialites. This, of course, granted him free reign over their domain once he duplicated their keys. He and his three sidekicks would then rob these socialites of everything at a later time. They got away with this for years but eventually he became too greedy for his own good.
Deacon Brodie decided to try and rob the customs in the excise office. He was caught and he was hanged. But the story doesn’t end there. There’s a twist. As well as making furniture, Deacon Brodie had also invented a new form of gallows, which he was the first to try out. In the form of pure poetic retribution, he was hanged on the very gallows that he himself invented. They say he died with a smile on his face because he thought the gallows didn’t work but they did and that was the end of Deacon Brodie.
Today, Deacon Brodie’s notoriety lives on in the form of a pub, a cafe and a statue located along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. A number of Authentic Ireland Scotland Vacations explore the streets of Edinburgh and its tainted yet fascinating history. Reach out to our travel experts to schedule your tour of Edinburgh, Scotland.