A Correct Account of the Trial and sentence of Peter Moffat, for tit
Murder of father, at Kilsyth, on the 2d April, 1822, and who
it to be Executed at Stirling, on Friday the 28th July, 1826.
ON Monday, 26th June, 1826, came on before the High Court of
Justiciary, accused of the wilful murder of his father, Peter
Moffat, late carter in Kilsyth, having, on the 2nd day of April 1822,
assalted and attacked the said Peter Moffat with a knife or other
lethel instrument, and inflicted several wounds in the belly of his
father, where of he died in four days thereafter.
After some observertations as to the removal of a sentence of out-
lawry which was formerly passed on the pannel, he pled not guilty.
Mrs Adams was the first witness called, She deponed?I live at
the Cross of Kilsyth. I remember old Peter Moffat, the father of
the prisoner. He got his death four years past the 2d April. He
was in my house between nine and ten o'clock that night. There
was no person in it at the time, but my own family and a daughter
of Moffat's, who was my servant. The prisoner was also in the
house?both the father and son were the worse of liquor. The
prisoner was asleep on the gronnd. The father kicked him, took,
hold of the hair of his head, and knocked it against the ground in
purpose to waken him. Old Moffat seemed angry with me for al-
lowing his son to lie on the ground, saying, he is as deserving of a
bed as the best of you.' The father continued to strike his son's
head ugainst the ground till he awoke, and said, ' it is all my own,
fault.' The father then struggled with the son, till the pannel was
set on the chair. The father again dadded his head against the
mantle piece, but the strokes, I think, were not violent, being mere-
. ly to awaken, but not to injure him. The father continued this
usage for some time, when the son said, " Damn it, if you were not
my father I would not thole that." He then rose and seized his
father by the throat. I ran out to get assistance, but before I got
to the door I think the son had couped his father on the ground. On
my calling, Mrs Gulies, Jean Nicol, and James Johnston came in,
and pulled the father and son asunder. Old Moffat then went out,
and the prisoner wished to get out, when I said, " Just let him gang,
he winna meddle wi his father." He then went out, lifting the cat
bar of the door himself, and having the open knife in his hand, and
holding it in a horizontal position. After an absence of a few mi-
nutes he returned, and said,------"Goodwin," and sat down by the
fire. I did not speak to him, but hearing a running on the street,
I went to the door, and heard a cry that Peter Moffat had sticked his
father. I then said to him, " Oh, Peter, you have sticked your fa-
ther," and he replied,' there is nothing like giving them their tatoes
when one is at it, they can peel them when they are ready." I said,
" Oh man, it was an awful thing to draw a knife on your father"
I then went out, leaving him sitting, and he was gone before I re-
tuaned. I never again saw him till in Stirling jail.
The Lord Advocate in addressing the jury, dwelt very much on
the horrid nature of the offence with which the prisoner stood
charged. It was that of the highest crime known in the law of
Scotland,....murder, and to which was added the frightful aggrava-
tion of its having been perpetrated by a son, imbruing his hands in
the blood of a father.
Mr John Russell, in a singularly able and eloquent manner, ad-
dressed the jury for the pannel, contending, that the very atrocity
of such a crime, a crime which wrs repugnant to the laws of God,
of nature, and of man, raised doubts of its having been perpe-
taated, and consequently called upon the jury to sift such a case
-the more closely.
The Lord Justice Clerk, at great length, summed up the evidence
to the jury, laying down the law applicable to it with his usual per-
specuity, and giving it as his opinion that it was a case of murder.
The jury, after an absence of a few minutes, returned a verdict
of " finding the pannel Guilty as libelled." .
Lords Mackenzie and Alloway severally delivered their opinions,
after which the Lord Justice Clerk proceeded to pronounce the last
awful sentence of the law, which he, we thought, did with more
than usual solemnity, but spoke so low as to be heard but very
indistinctly. He said he had been convicted of a crime which re-
flected a disgrace upon the county within the bounds of which it
was committed, which could hardly ever be wiped away. He had
been convicted of murdering his own father... the author of his
being....the individual whom he was bound by the laws of God and
of nature, to have protected even at the risk of his own life. It was
a crime which no circumstance could justify nor palliate....even in
. the degree of violence used by the father their was no hostility....
and between 'that aggression and the inffliction of the wound, such
an interval of time elapsed, that the pannel had time to reflect on
on whom he was to lift his hand. His Lordship then read the sen-
tence of the Court, ordaining the pannel to be executed at Stirling,
on Friday the 28th July next, and his body thereafter to be given
to Dr Monro for dissection.
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Date of publication:
1826 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(70)
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