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Broadside entitled 'Lives and Transactions of the Gilmerton Murderers, Dobie and Thomson'






Full, True, and Particular Account of the Lives and Transactions of
David Dobie and John Thomson, the Gilmerton Murderers, toge-
ther with a very full and most correct account of their conduct and
declarations in the Lock-up-house, on the night before the Execu-
catioin, and on their last moments on the Scaffold, all extracted from
the Coura nt Newspaper,

      Lives and Transactious of David Dobie and

John Thomson

John Thomson Thomson was twenty one years of
age, and was a tall slender man, with a face
of little meaning ; he lost his father when he
was two years old, but was sent some years to
school, where he learned to read and write,
and to repeat the Shorter Catechism of the
Church of Scotland, with the Scripture proofs,
this useful mannal had made little lmpression
on his mind, as he had long forgotten it.    At
a Sunday evening school, for religious instruc-
tion, he had been exercised in other tasks, but
apparently with little effect ; both he and his
campanion seem to have thought, that their
attendance at this school was a sufficient apol-
ogy for absence from public worship, and they
considered the exhortations, which they heard
there, as an equivalent to preaching.    Thom-
son at the age at twelve years, began to drive
a cart with yellow sand, an article which, is
sold every morning in- the streets of Edin
burgh, and he after wards became the driver
of a cart with coals, which he was in the ha-
bit of retailing in small quantities among poor
people, who were unable to buy more than
hundred weight or two at a time.   While he
led this life, his chief companions were young
men of the same occupation, and for some
years past he has associated more. with David
Dobie than with any other person, and has
been much addicted to drinking. According
to his own statement, he was always simple
and easily led, and scarcely ever had a good
advice from any person, with the exception of
his   mother.    On the fatal Saturday evening
when the crime was commited, he had been
drinking more than usual, and they would not
have seen the woman who   lost her life, if
Dobie would have passed the public house
where she came up to them    She   had been
drinking much too.    The   particulars of the
abominable atrocities, perpetrated in the dead
of night, he has never detailed, and though he
has   sometimes   said   that nobody   knew so
much of the transaction as himself, he has oc-
casionally hinted that the injuries might as
well have been inflicted by other hands than
either his or Dobie's.    He sometimes said that
Dobie was answerable only for the robbery ;
at, other   times he said that this was not the
only   act of which   Dobie   was guilty: bat
though he wag aware that Dubie had offered
to become King's eviderice, he generally said   
that it was hard to take a man's life for all
that cable had done.   Expressions sometimes
dropped from him, from which it might have
been inferred that he had bouad himself not   
to reveal what he knew of Dobie's guilt
but his general remark was. that it could do   
   no good now, and that the declarations said to   
have been made by the woman were in some.   
respects not true, and could not be correct, as   
she was so very drunk as to be incapable of   
remembering any thing.    He has never de-   
nied his own guilt, and he is said to have been   
employed,   almost   without intermission, in   
reading. the Scriptures and atherserious books,   
and in praying and singing psaims.

David Dobie was 26 years of age, and had   
a look of much greater acuteness than Thom-
son. When he was vary young his father had
his arm shattered by the upsetting of his cart,   
necessary to be unfit for labour, and it was thus   
necessary that his numerous children should   
sooner work for their bread than they would   
other wise have done.    David, after he learned
to read and. write tolerably, at the age of   
right assisted his elder brother, who drove a   
cart with yellow sand.   In a few "years after-
wards be began to drive to drive coals, and he had no   
oppertunity of making farther progress in   
education accept at an evening school occa-   
sonally   On the subject of the crime for   

which, he suffered, he had early given a state
ment, to which, however, little credit can be
given.   He said he knew little more than that

    Thomson had given him a tin box. which box
    Thomson, on the other hand, denied that he
    had. ever given him.    Two or three days after

the crime was committed, Dobie gave this box
to another man. stating that he had found it,
About the same time he spoke with brutal
levity" to some of his companions of the vio-
lence which Thomson had committed.    How
far he was personally concerned in this vio
lence can never be known,    As he was home
and in bed nearly an hour before , Thomson,
he had prabably no hand in some of the incre-
dible outrange of of which the   wretched   female.
was the victim,   We purposely abstain from
the recital. of a variety of particulars with re-
gard to Dobie which it would be unprofitable
to detail.    His wife and children are objects,
of deep commiseration, and his parents, bro-
hers, and sisters, are not less to   

Dobie was a man of a frank and forward
disposition, and, though fearless of offending
the feelings of others, he was often ready to ,
perform obliging and neighbourly officers


Yesterday morning thase   two criminals   

suffered last punishment of the law, at the   

usual place of execution, for the atrocious   

murder and robbery of Margaret   Paterson,   

committed on the road to Gilmerton in April   

last.    Thomson received the final visit from   

his relations on Friday last, and the scene   

which took place was highly affecting.   Tues      

day night Dobie was   Visited   by his brother   

and a friend.   The criminals were taken from   

the jail to the Lock-up house in a carriage on   

Tuesday afternoon,   About midnight they lay   

down, but did not sleep.    Before lying down   

Dobie wrote to his wife and other   relations   

in which he exhorted   them to turn from the   

evil of their ways, and seek for mercy through   

the merits of a redeemer                                          

Thomson also wrote to his mother; his let-

ter was very laconic.    It merely stated that   

he entertained hopes. of pardon through the   

merits of Jesus Christ, and bade her farewell,   

In the course of the night Thomson   washed   

his feet and legs, as he said that he might be   

more   confortable;   but   his real object was   

different, and his companion seemed to under      
stand it, for he said,    Never wind Jock, we

will be well enough   scrapit i' the College.'   

This coarse expression is perhaps as good an   

illustration of   Dobie's character as can be   


Shortly before six o'clock., the reverend Dr
Lee am! Mr Porteous' were in attendance upon

the criminals.?-They both   exhibited the ut      

mast firmness and resignation, acknowledged   

the many sins of which they had been guilty,   

and   expressed   a sincere   hop'e of salvation   

through the blood of Christ. After prayer and   

singing a hymn a basin of tea was given to

each:and at a quarter past Seven, they cams   

down stairs and had their arms pinioned. on   

entering the apartment where the executioner   

was, Dobie looked   wildly around, appeared   

much agita ed and immediately exclaimed ' I

thought we were going up,' (meaning- to the   

scaffold)   To Thomson   he said,   ' I hope the   

Lord will have mercy upon us to which   

Thomson,   in rather an absent   manner, re-

sponded I hope so?-Thomson was through   
but remarkably composed ; he appeared indif,

serent to all worldly matters, and never utter      

ed a word, exceut in to questions asked;   

and these to generally answered by ' yes' or   

no ;   except in one instance, when he said,   

I am as composed now as ever I was in my   
life.    Dobie on the contrary   was unusually   
restless and distured He inquired the hour.

and wished to ascertain how long they would
remain in the house. When the executioner
commenced pinioning them, each seemed
much interested in the fate of his companion ;

but they did not speak.

On entering the apartment where Dr Lee
and Mr Porteous: were, Dobie. in reply to a
question as to how he felt, The Lord,

I hope, has given me strength,'   When asked,
it they Wished any particular Psalm, Hymn, or
Paraphrase, Dobie answered that he wished
the Hymn beginning, 'The hour of my depar-
ture's come.'   It being mentioned that they
had just sang that Hymn up stairs, he said,
Well, any one you like best will do as welll
-sing the 51st Psalm,' This was accordingly
done, commencing with the words, All mine
iniquities blot out ;' and both joined in sing-
ing,    Mr Porteous then prayed earnestly, the
criminals kneeling,    It was during this scene
that their feelings and state of mind were
most   strongly marked.    Thomson threw,
him self on his knees-covered his face with
his hands, and continued apparently anxiously'
responding to the petition put up in his
behalf   bat not a sound escaped his lips.
Dobie's conduct forced, on the Other hand, a   
complete contrast to the coolness, but not in-
difference, of Thomson. At some parts of the
prayer, particularly those wherein their state   
is fallen men-the situation of the village to
which they belonged, as being very wicked,
and the helpless condition of Dobie's widow
and children, were alluded to, occasionally a
deep groan involuntarily escaped him, or the
exclamation of ' Oh ay-eh, yes." Before the
prayer was concluded, he rose on one knee,
turaed half round, and convulsively grasped

psalm book which he held between his
hands ; in fact, every movement of his body
and expression of his countenance conveyed,

language too striking to be misunderstood,
the impression that his mind was ill at ease?
that hit whole soul was awfully troubled.
They were then advised to pray by them-
selves, and both complied. Dobie prayed
load, calling for ' Help in this his day of
trouble;' ' that the Lord would not hide his
face from him, but be merciful, for he was a
great sinner ,' and similar emphatic Scriptural
expressions ?Thomson was not heard to pray.
On rising they. both thanked the reverend
gentlemen for their, attention ; and Dobie said,
I hope our fate ,will be a warning to that
wicked place to which we belong !' To the
Governor of the Jail. Mr Rose, he said, ' will
you look after my poor wife and children ?'
and an answer in the affermative seemed. to
give him great relief.                                    

On the Magistrates being announced, they
rose, and declared themselves ready, and al-
most immediately thereafter proceeded to the
scaftold?Thomson being assisted by Mr Per-
teoas and Thomson by Dr Lee.    When they
ached Libberton's Wynd, a sort of buzzing
noise was heard from the crowd in the Lawn-
market l; this, scemed to affect Dobie much,
and or Black procured him a glass of water,
which he drank eagerly.   (When on the drop
he again called for water, which was given   
him)    On the platform, a portion of the 40 h
Psalm was sung, and Dr Lee prayed    The
criminals then took their places on the drop-
the ropes were adjusted, and they prayed for
some minutes.    In answer to a question put   

to Thomson, He said that his sentence was just
and proper ; and Dobie at the same time said
I do not deny my guilt.'    Having bidden
farewell to those around them,   Dobie asked
Thomson if he was ready, to which question
the latter instantly replied,   ' I am ready,'      
and the former giving the signal, the drop self-.
Thomson struggled more than his companion,
but a either appeared to suffer long.

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Date of publication: 1830   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(68)
Broadside entitled 'Lives and Transactions of the Gilmerton Murderers, Dobie and Thomson'
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