A particular account of the Execution of JOHN CRAIG and JAMES
BROWN, who were executed at Paisley, on Thursday the 29th of
OCtober, 1829 for the crime of Stoutrief.
YESTERDAY, JOHN CRAIG, glazier, and JAMES BROWN,
labourer, were executed in front of the Court Houses in
Paisley, for the crime of stouthrief. It may be remembered that
men were convicted at our last Circuit Court of breaking into the
house of William Robertson, bleacher at West Foxbar, in the
Vbbey parish of Paisley, on the morning of the 14th June last;
and after having overcome the resistance of Mr Robertson and his
sister, by various acts of violence and threats of murder, they
robbed the house of different articles of valuable property ; and
previous to leaving the premises, bound the proprietors with ropes
to prevent them from giving any alarm. An accomplice of the
name of Robert Stewart, a weaver, was outlawed for not appearing.
From the period of their condemnation, the deportment of Craig
and Brown was befitting the awfulness of their situation. Feeling
they had no hope whatever in this world, they apparently gave
themselves wholly up to the things of the next, and listened to the
gifferent religious instructors who visited them with the most an-
xious and earnest desire to profit by their advice and instruction.
During their imprisonment in the Jail of Paisley, the families of
the prisoners had frequent interviews with them, the last of which
took place on Wednesday ; and when we mention that Craig had
a wife and three children, and Brown a wife and seven children to
Dart with for the last time in this world, it will rcadily be con-
ceived that the scene which took place was of the most overwhelm-
ing and heart-rending description. During the night preceding the
exeution, and indeed during the whole period of their conflne-
ment, the unfortunate men were most assiduously attended by their
religious instructors, who did every thing in their power to impress
their minds with the necessity of deep, sincere, and humble repen-
tance....and if a person might judge of their spiritual improvement
from the expressions of thankfulness and gratitude for these hu-
mane individuals, there was every reason to hope that they had not
laboured in vain.
On the morning of the execution, the men slept for about two
hours each ; and during night they were frequently engaged in
prayer for themselves their wives and families ; Brown was at one-
time greatly affected, but gradually recovered that composure which
he, as well as his companion, had all along maintained. By a
quarter to 12 o'clock they had been pinioned, at which period, J.
C. Dunlop. Esq. Sheriff-depute of Renfrewshire, Alex. Campbell,
Esq, Sheriff-depute accompanied by the Provost and Magistrates of
Paisley, bearing their rods of office, entered the day-room of the
prison, when Craig and Brown followed, and were seated at the
lire. The Rev Mr Telfer and the Rev. Mr Geddes then offered up
fervent prayers in their behalf, and that of their destitute families.
After this had been done, and the blessing pronounced, Craig
and Brown proceeded to the scaffold, (the former leaning on the
arm of the Rev. Mr Symington, the latter on that of the Rev.
Mr Goddes) which they ascended with all that firmness and
composure which their previous behaviour indicated.
When the executioner had adjusted the ropes, and the caps
were drawn over the faces of the unhappy men, Mr Symington
again pronounced a most emphatic prayer in their behalf, after
which Craig and. Brown shook hands with each other, and with
those gentlemen who were near them, when, every thing being
ready, the signal was placed in the hands of Brown, who, after-be-
ing engaged in prayer for two minutes, enquired of Craig twice if
he was ready, and being answered in the affirmative, the signal was
given at half-past twelve, and the drop instantly fell. The suffer-
ings of Brown appeared to be brief, but the body of Craig was
much convulsed for some minutes.
Previous to coming so Johnstone, (where he had only a twelve-
month, working as a labonrer, which he continued to do till about
a fortnight prevlous to the perpetration of the crime for which he
sufferd) Brown kept an inn in Newtonards, Ireland, in which line
he was unfortunate. Craig had resided in Johnstone for a period
of nine year.
Since the days of witchcraft, there have been only three melan-
choly exhibitions of this nature in Paisley; and it is not a little re-
markable that the precise period of thirty-two years should have
elapsed betwixt each of them, as appears from the following list:....
A Provan, weaver, (a most notorious villoin,) for murdering his
wife, was executed on the 7th November, 1765, at the Gallow-
green,on the Glasgow Fast-day, and his right hand struck off;
Thomas Potts, Weaver, on the 17th August, 1797, for housebreak
ing and robbery at Gryffe Castle, Craig and Brown in Oct 1829.
View Commentary | Download PDF Facsimile
Date of publication:
1829 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(90)
View larger image