E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
To murder by placing something over the mouth of the person attacked to prevent his giving alarm. So called from Burke, an Irishman, who used to suffocate his victims and murder them for the sole purpose of selling the dead bodies to surgeons for dissection. Hanged at Edinburgh, 1829.
To burke a question. To strangle it in its birth. The publication was burked suppressed before it was circulated.