The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'


Trial & Sentence

Of JAMES BRYCE, labourer, Airdrie, for

the Horrid Murder of JOHN GEDDES.


Edinburgh,   Tuesday, March 12th, 1844.

JAMES BRYCE, labourer, Airdrie, was
this day placed at the bar, charged with the
murder of his brother-in-law, John Geddes,
within his own house on the farm of Long-
ford, in the parish of West Calder, on the
night of Tuesday the 26th or morning of
Wednesday the 27th of December last, by
barbarously striking him repeated blows on
the head and other parts of the body with a
pair of tongs, or other lethal weapon, where-
by his skull was fractured, his left eye knock-
ed in, his eye-brow broken, his nose com-
pletely shattered, his jaw-bone and collar-
bone broken, his ribs all broken but two, and
his body otherwise shockingly mutilated, in
consequence of which he immediately or soon
thereafter died,?also with the Robbery of
two Silver Watches, at least 5 in half-crown
pieces, and a quantity of his body-clothes.

The atrocious character of this murder na-
turally eveited feelings of the deepest horror ;
and, from a desire to obtain a sight of him
who was considered the hardened wretch to
perpetrate such a drcadful crime, the court-
room was densely crowded long before pro-
ceedings   commenced,--and   numbers   were
unabla to get admittance.    The pannel, who
is of a morose and sulky appearance, on being
interrogated on the indictment, pleaded Not
Guilty.    Evidence was then led whieh went
to establish that, on Tuesday the 26th De-
cember Geddes was in his usual health, and
same night words were heard between him
and some one in his   house ;   that, missing
him for some days, his neighbours became
alarmed, and broke open the door on Sunday
the 31st, when they discovered his body lying
on the floor in the mangled state discribed,
covered with a shirt,   and the tongs by the
fire-side besmeared with blood :   That Bryce
was seen going towards West Calder on the
Tuesday afternoon, also returning to Airdrie
next day carrying a large bundle, where he
had plenty of money, and purchased clothes
for himself and family, and to some of his
friends on Thursday produced a watch which
was recognised as deceased's, and which was
afterwards pawned by his wife in an office in
Glasgow ; that, having absconded on New-
Year's-Day,   and,   after eluding an   active
search, he was apprehended near Dumfries
on the 12th, when he gave a false account
of himself; and that he was found wearing
deceased's body-belt, while his son had also
on his shoes.------The Court then adjourned
till Wednesday morning, when

The Solicitor-General addressed the Jury
on the part of the prosecution, claiming from
them a verdict of Guilty. Mr Crauford fol-
lowed on behalf of the pannel, insisting that
on such circumstantial evidence as had been
led no conviction could follow, and demand-
ing at least a verdict of Not Pro. en. The
Lord-'ustice-Clerk then summed up theevi-
dence in his usual minute and judicious man-
ner, and the Jury retired. On their return
into Court, in about half-an-hour, with a ver-
dict of Guilty of the Murder and Robbery as
libelled, his Lordship having assumed the
fatal black cap, in a solemn and impressive
address to the prisoner, passed upon him the
last awful sentence of the law, to be carried
into effect on Wednesday the 3d April next.

Sandarson, Printer,   Edinburgh.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1844   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(337b)
Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland