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

Broadside regarding the murderer, John Webster


The last Speech And Dying Words of John Webster Gardiner at Greenhill ; who was Execute at
Greentide, near Broughtoun, for the Horrid Murder of Marjory Campbell a Girl.

THAT Supreme and Soveragin Judge of Heaven and Earth, whose Prerogative Royal it
is to Search the Heart and Try the Reins of the Children of the Sons of Men, has brought me
here this Day to be cut oft by the Sword of Justice, as an Infectious Member from
the Body of Humane Society, as a just Demerit of the unpresidented Barbarity that I
have been guilty of, in taking away the Life of a poor Innocent Girl, who never had done me
the least Offence in the World; it would be'expected that I would give some Account of my
bypast Life and Conversation.   But alas! it's but a very Melancholly one I can give, and alse
little Reason can I give of the unparalelled Cruelty I have committed.

I was born in the Paroch of Dron, in Perth Shire, of Honest, tho' poor Parents, my Father
dying while I was three Years of Age, was left to the Care of my Tender Mother, who was
not wanting to put me to Schools tor my Education, till I was nine Years of Age, at which
Time it pleased GOD to Remove my Mother likewise, then I was taken Care of by her Friends,
till I attained to the Knowledge of Reading and Writing, and instructed by them to be a Gar-
diner, whereby I might have gained my Livliehood sufficiently, and had good Examples by
them, but alas slighted all, and at that Time had some small Regard to Religion, and the Wor-
ship of GOD, till attained to the Age of 18 ; at which Time I began my Uncleanness, and
begat a Child, for which I Deserted my Mothers Friends, the good Example they shewed me.
And came to a private Gentlemans Service in Fife, and staid there for some Time, till I was
obliged to Return and Satisfie the Church for my Scandal ; and thereafter I came over to
the Lothians, and settled with one John Smith Gardner at Grange, where I staid for some Years,
where I had a good Example shown me, during which Time I fell deeply in Fancy to the now
Misfortanate Helen Newlands, my present Wife, who seemed not to accept of my Affection,
upon which I used Foolish Measures, not worth mentioning; by which at last to her Misfor-
tune, she condescended, intirely to prevent my then vowed fore-end, since which Time she has
continued a Dutiful and Loving Wife, and has Born me one Child, and is Bigg with another.
Ah! that me should have such a Wretch to her Husband, or they to their Father: But allow-
ed my self loose Reins, adicted my self to Drinking, and intirely neglected Christian Duty,
and leaving the Grange, I engaged at Greenhill near Edinburgh, by whole Relation with Mrs.
Clegborn in the Society, I came to be acquaint in her Family, where the Harmless Girl staid.

My Wife staying in Town, and as I had Occasion to see her, I called at Mrs. Clegborns, and
would frequently have given the Child Aples, Peats, or such Fruit, as I at any Time had in my
Pocket, in which Time the Devil entered into my Heart, and had Unclean Thoughts towards
Her, and would have shewed fondness to the Child, she not understanding my Hellish   Inclina-
tion, gave me Occasion to Contract the Thoughts of this Cruel and Unheard of Barbarity I
have committed, which was upon the 14. Instant.   Having come to Town to see my Wife;
    and in my Return to Greenhill, went to Mrs. Cleghorns, where I staid till it was late :    I de-
sired a young Boy ( who staid in the Family ) and her to Convey me to the Port,to which they
    were Averse, but judging me Drunk, as truly I was, were willing to see me out at the Port.

O Cruel, Return, Thrice, Cruel Return, for such Innocent Kindness, and they having come
at length ; I prevailed upon them to come the length of Mrs. Herriots, where thy both would

      Return ; but further prevailed with them, to see me four or Five Rig Broad in upon the Crosts,
and then in a violent Manner, gript her by the Neck, saying, Maysie Campbell ; say, GOD have
Mercy upon upon, for I am going to Kill you. To which, she replyed, Why, John ? Kill me,
in which Time I pulled out a Knife I had in my Pocket of Design, and therewith Cut the
Throat of the poor Victime, as if it had been the Throat of a Sheep or a Calf. O inhumane
Wretch that I was, for taking away the Life of a poor young Creature, who had never given
me the least shew of Offence. I justly suffer this Day a shameful, but a deserved Death, as the
Demerit of my Wickedness. I freely Forgive all that ever did me Offence, as I Desire to be
Forgiven of GOD. I beg the Forgiveness of all my Spectators ; and especially of that Gentle-
man, whose Child I have unworthily murdered, and all his Relations : O ! the Evil of Sin ?
What can be expected; when all Fear of GOD is cast of, his Worship Forsaken,and the Service
of the Devil engaged into ; as alas ! I have done. I have been a lewd Liver, a Horrid Sinner,
and Guilty of all Imaginable Sins ; but not I hope, of that Unpardonable Sin, I need not Name
them to the World.

I am now going in the 25 Year of my Age but alas ! too many being so badely spent; I
am near now to the End of my Journey. But my Work is great, and I Fear almost to begin.
My present Case then is, To be lying in the Dust before the LORD, acknowledging the Hai-
nousness of my Crime; and crying bitterly to GOD for Mercy, in and throw the Blood of
JESUS CHRIST. And begs earnestly, that the World, and all you Spectators, take Warning
and Example of me. And especially, you of the younger Sort,To Remember your Creator in the Days of
your Youth. For it you cast off GOD and his Precepts, it's hard to know what the Event may
be. I declare as I am a dying Man,I never was Guilty of Murder before,tho' some Years agoe,

I out of my Folly, declared I had.    And therefore, GOD has now justly let me fall in to it.    I
leave my poor Wife and Child to the Mercy and Goodnesss of GOD.    I wish the LORD may
make up her Loss,and give her a Heart to Forgive me, for my undutiful Behaviour towards her,
especially in this. O all Degrees of People.that sees me suffer this just and deserved Death; Bless
GOD that he has not let you fall,and be not lifted up,but be humble and beg of GOD that ye
be not given up to the Temptations of the Devil, and these powerful Corruptions that dwell in
the Heart of the Children of the Son of Men by Nature? O for free Grace & Rich Mercy, now
in my last Extremity.   Now I'm going to Dropt into the World of Spirits, and has nothing to

look too, but to the Riches of the Mercies of GOD, throw JESUS CHRIST. Into whom I
commit the Stress or my Salvation. Into thy Hands, O LORD, I Recommend my Spirit.

                                                                                                                                    John Wehster.

previous pageprevious          
Probable date published: 1722-   shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(092)
Broadside regarding the murderer, John Webster
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland