An Interesting Account of the Trial and Sentence of
MARY M'KINNON, who is to be Executed at
Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 16th of April next
for the Murder of William Hewat, by Stabbing him
in the Breast with a Table Knife, and her Body
given for Public Dissection.
YESTERDAY, Friday 14th March 1823, came on, before the
Court, the trial of MARY M'KINNON, lately residing on
the South Bridge, accused of the crime of Murder ; by having, on
the evening of the 8th day of February, assaulted and stabbed in
the breast or side, with a table knife, William Howat, then clerk
with Thomas Johnstone, writer in Edinburgh, of which wound he
languished in the Infirmary until the 20th day of the same month,
when he died. the pannel pleaded Not Guilty.
No objection to the relevancy of The indictment having been
made, a Jury were impanneled, when written defences were given
in on the part of the prisoner....pleading Not Guilty. That she
kept a licensed tavern on the South Bridge. That she had left her
house on the 8th February, on a visit to her neighbour; during her
absenee a riot took place. That the deceased, along with,others, in
a state of intoxication, came into her house, broke the furniture,
violently assaulted the females who lived in her house, she herself
being absent; and when she returned, was herself knocked down ;
and if the deceased sustained any injury at her hand, she did not
know of it.
George Tait, Esq. Sheriff-substitute, proved the declarations
emitted by the pannel, as also the declaration of William Howat,
taken in the Infirmary on the 10th of February, in a low state, but
perfectly recollected. The prisoner at the Lar being shown to the
deceased, was identified by him as the person referred to in his de-
claration, which evidence was corroborated by the Procurator Fiscal.
Henry Ker, land-survey or, was then examined, who described
the whole circumstances of the case at great length, and was fol-
lowed by several other witnesses, when the pannels declarations
were read, in which she denied all concern in the murder of Howat,
and throwing the whole blame of it on his own party. After the
examination of four or fille witnesses in exculpation, the Solicitor-
General addressed the Jury for the Crown, and was replied to by
Mr Jeffrey for the pannel, when the Lord Justice Clerk charged the
Jury, in a luminous and comprehensive speech.
The Jury were enclosed about three qurters of an hour.
The Jury, by their Chancellor, Robert Cockburn, Esq. returned
a verdict, finding by a plurality of voices, the said Mary M'Kinnon
gnilty of the crime of Murder. The Chancellor then stated, that
he had been requested, by a majority of the Jury, to tender a re-
commendation of mercy for the prisoner.
The Lord Justice Clerk then stated, that the verdict of the plu-
rality of the Jury was in unison with the opinion of the Court. He
discharged them from their long and arduous duty, but stated, that
he could not discover any grounds in the circumstances of the case,
for a recommendation to mercy?which recommendation would,
however, be transmitted to the proper quarter.
Lord Pitmilly stated tbat the duty incumbent on the Court was
clearly pointed out?the last punishment of the law had been allot-
ed for the crime of Murder?and it is now the duty of the Court.
to pronoune that sentence upon the unhappy woman at the bar.
He agreed with the Lord Justice Clerk, in stating that he could not
discover any circumstances which could warrant a recommendation
The Lord Justice Clerk, in a most feeling and heartrending man-
ner, implored the prisoner to prepare for death and eternity. She
was then ordered be executed at Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 16th
April, between ihe hours of 8 and 10, and her body to be given
to the Professor of Anatomy for dissection.
The pannel behaved throughout the trial with great propriety.
She seemed very confident of she result being favourable, but to-
wards the end of the examination of the witnesses, her spirits
seemed to flag, and she became extremely agitated, She varied
colour while the Lord Justice Clerk was summing up the evidence.
During the absence of the Jury, the conflict in the mind of the un-
happy sufferer was very evident; and, on their return, while the
verdict was recording, she fainted, and continued in that state for a
few minutes, on recovering, she exclaimed, " O, Lord, have mercy
on me." The unfortunate woman had to be assisted to sit upright
while their Lordships were delivering their opinions.
Edinburgh:- Printed for James. M'Lean-price One penny.
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Date of publication:
1823 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(34)
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