An account of the execution of James Wilson and
John M'Donald, at Glasgow, on Wednesday the
4th day of June. 1823 ; with their behaviour in
Jail, and on the Scaffold.
Glasgow, June 5th, 1823.
Yesterday, Wednesday, 4th June, were Executed pursuant to their
sentence, James Wilson for Housebreaking and Robbery, and
John M'Donald for breaking into a Jeweller's Shop in Glasgow,
and stealing therefrom a quantity of gold and silver watches, &c.
Since their condemnation the have behaved in a very exem-
p'ary manner. They had some faint hopes of receiving a com-
mutation of punishment, more especially Wilson, but the magis-
trates having received the warrant for their Exctution, and com-
municate I the contents to the prisoners, entirely dispelled their
most sanguine hopes ; they received the information with aston-
ishing resignation, and a great chauge was easily observed in their
manner; having had hopes of a reprieve, their minds were kept
in a fluctuating and uncertain state, but now that those anticipa-
tions were for ever blasted, every earthly care was obliterated, and
they became earnestly solicitous for an interest in that Way by
which alone they could hope for felicity in an eternal world.
They received joyfully and with a becoming countenance the cler-
gymen, and other individuals who visied them for the purpose
of instruction. Their friends visited them on the Sunday previous
to the Execution, to take a last farewell of the unhappy men ; the
scenc was most affecting; the hardest heaat present must have
yielded to the impulse of nature. They slept very little on Tues-
day night, and the clergymen found them ready to receive them
on Wednesday, and they continued with them all the forenoon.
About 2 o'clock they were taken from their cells to the court-
room where the magistrates were assembled, and an excellent
prayer was put up by one of the clergymen the doleful proces-
sion then moved forward to the Scaffold in front of the jail and
court-house; an immense crowd of spectators were present; the
unfortunate men took no heed to what was going on around them,
but appeared to listen attentively to the words of the clergymen.
After most impressive supplications to the throne of grace for the
unhappy prisoners, and part of a psalm sung, in which they were
heard distinctly to join, they ascended the drop, and while the
Executioner was adjusting, their hands were observed moving as
engaged in fervent prayer. The Executioner shoook hands with
them, and scarcely had he descended from the drop, when the
fatal signal was given, and these unfortunate men were launch-
ed into eternity. Macdonald seemed to die easily, but Wilson
had one or two heavy convulsions, after being about a minute
They were both stout young meu a number of their former
associates were among the crowd, and they seemed to be deep-
ly affected with the fate of their companions. May the awful
and appaling spectacle be a warning to them and all who were
present, to move in that sphere which subjects them not to the
just though rigorous laws of their country.
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Date of publication:
1823 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(40)
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