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Broadside concerning the criminal career and death of James Moffat


Life and Memoirs of James Mossat, Who was sen-
tenced at Edinburgh to be Executed, and who died
in the Calton Jail, on Wednesday se'ennight, con-
taining an account of his wicked carreer and Rob-
beries in Britain and abroad ; also, an account of
the terrible agony be experienced before his Death,
and in the course of the night, during which his
dreadful exclamations terrified those around him;
he was a native of Edinburgh.

IT is believed that James M Coul, alias Mossat, alias Martin, alias Wil-
son, alias Mossot, was a native of Edinburgh, and was bred to the
business of a tanner, which he for some time exercised in this country. He
afterwards went to London, where, he connected himself with the most
notorious sharpers, and subsequently became himself an adept and a lead-
er. He was, like our famous Brodie, celebrated as a cock fighter, and in
pugilism, was what would now, in the elegant language of that science. be
styled a demi-professional, demi-amateur, of the Fancy. The connections
of his gang, of whom the notorious Hasley White was a prominent mem-
ber, were, it is said, so extensive, that he might, with some propriety, be
called the Robber of the World ; its ramifications extended over great
part of the Continent of Europe, himself at times residing in different
towns in Holland, He was in Hamburgh when that city fell into the
hands of, the French, where he was of considerable service to the British
troops, which subsequently saved him from an ignominious death. About
fifteen years ago, as a mask for his real intentions, he commenced a mo-
rocco tanning and dyeing concern in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh,
more, it is thought, with intent of cloaking his character, and assuming a
" visible means of subsistence," than for the purpose of fair gain. About
that time he was taken into custody, charged with robbing a gentleman in
the Theatre, but got of from want of evidence. His history from this
period is less perfect with us than in the records of Dow Street, down to
the robbery of the Paisley bank's branch at Glasgow. Soon after that
transaction he was taken into custody, and after remaining long in Glas-
gow Jail, obtained his liberation, by restoring, through the medium of a
friend in London, about L. 10,000 of the money of which the bank was
robbed ; having, as it is well known, still a large sum of the money then
lost to the bank. He made repeated visits to Aberdeen and Dundee, in
order to convert the notes into bills on London, in which he succeeded.
At lest, with a large sum of money still on his person, he arrived at Leith.
and succeeded in converting it also, being, as was proved, the indentical
notes of which the bank was robbed, into bills on London, when he was
again apprehended and sent up to the Police Office here ; when, after
another imprissonment and much discussion, these bills were. by desire of
a very active magistrate of this city, lodged in the bank of Sir William
Forbes & Co. In order to recover this money, Mossat had the audacity
to raise various actions in the Court of Session, and unsuccessfuley lrigat-
ed for the period of eight years, during which he was for the most part
to be found about the Coutts of Law, or at certain tap-rooms, denouncing
city magistrates, judges,and juries. At the final determination of this
cause against him in the Jury Court in May las, the witnesses, it will be
recollected, so completely established his being a principal in the robbery
that he was then taken into custody, tried before the Court of Justiciary
in the month of June, convicted, and sentenced to be executed, which
sentence was afterwards commuted to transportation.

It is said that it was in early youth that those mal practices which had
hitherto distinguished his future life were generated, and had finally pro-
duced his wretched end. With this man personally, it was perhaps a
matter of indifference whether he died on a gibbet or in a prison room;
but had he died as a public malefactor, the spectacle would have been tru-
ly terrific. It was not the ignominy attached to such a scene, or even the
pain attendant on dissolution itself that seemed latterly to awaken his fears,
or agitate his mind. The retrospective part of his life furnished such a
view of consummate villainy and wickedness, that in his last moments, he
exhibited such a picture of agony, that it appeared as if the terrors of an.
other world had seized upon him before he had actually quitted this.
All that he spoke was with such an air of horror and eagerness as can be
scarcely imagined. He was a man that had been possessed of uncommon
talents both of body and mind, but which were improved by the very worst
of instruments, infidelity, pride, and self-conceit; and it is worthy of re-
mark, that Sabbath breaking and mingling in vicious company were a-
mongst his early vices, and to which he attributed all his future acts of
iniquity. He was capable of great activity and enterprize, but was equal-
ly a stranger to affection as to fear; previous to his trial, he trequently said
that he knew not what intimidation. was, and that whatever he was inclined
to he prosecuted without remorse or dread of consequences ; but this seem-
ed greatly to forsake him after he was laid under sentence of death. Al-
though he affected to be calm in his mind, yet he gradually lost his bodily
strength ; there was a secret working within that gave, him unceasing pain
This he often expressed by grinding his teeth and other marks of agony.
He seldom read any, and had no relish for religious exercises; though not
an open infidel, his mind was alienated from God, and his hopes of tuturi-
ry only presumption. When left to himself his days were agonising and
his nights terrible. This greatly increased as his mental vigour declined
and conscience acquired strength. When the mind reverted on past en-
ormities, he became afraid of himself and felt pain not to be uttered; par-
ticularly during the night season he used to, fight with his arms, and to
shake his limbs; under those paroxysms he swore and exclaimed bitterly,
frequently crying out, 'Depart from me ye Devils, ye monsters and com-
panions of my guilt-' to the alarm and terror of all within hearing. His
heart seemed hard and secure to the las:, as he lived, so he appeared to die
without God and without hope.

He died in the city Jail on Wednesday seenight, and was interred in the calton
burial groung on. Sabbath afternoon, at 4 o'clock, when's great number of people
were assembled from curiosity to witness the interment.

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Probable date published: 1819-   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(9)
Broadside concerning the criminal career and death of James Moffat
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