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Broadside regarding the execution of William Dornan and Robert Smyth


An account of the Execution of WILLIAM DORNAN, and ROBERT SMYTH, who were
banged at Air, on Friday the 26th day of May, pursuant to their sentence, for shopbreak-
ing and theft?with an account of their behaviour at the place of execution.

THE number of unhappy men that in the   pre-   
sent enlightened state of society forfeit their   
lives to the injured laws of the happy country in
which they live is truly deplorable , and would dis-   
grace the dark ages long past.                                 

It proves but too clearly, that religion is daily
more and more neglected; and, of course, the
hearts of those who neglect it become wicked and
depraved. He who does not consider religion as
one of his most principal duties?a duty which
not only smoothens the rugged path of this tran-
sient life?teaches resignation to the will of that
Supreme Power by whom we   live; move, and have
our being, but insures all the happiness we are per-
mitted to enjoy in this world, and promises, through
the   merits of our   Blessed Saviour ,    to every true
believer, eternal life, with felicity indescribable, in
the world to come.                                                   

In the present eventful period, no doubt, trades-   
men in general have been much depressed; for the   
enemy with which Britain has so long and nobly   
contended with, after trying every effort that un-
bounded ambition could invent to ruin this happy   
country without success, he at last aimed a blow at   
our commerce,   attended with circumstances the   
history of no nation or time can parallel, as he saw
by trade we were happy, rich, and content.    But   
the wisdom of the government under which we   
live, in a great measure, frustrated this diabolical
scheme also; and few tradesmen that are industrious
can yet say they want bread.

The   tradesman who is sober and industrious,   
much as the times are complained of, can yet live   
in a decent manner; but he who indulges himself   
in idleness and dissipation is sure to work his own   
destruction although trade was in the most flourish-
ing state.    The two unfortunate men who suffered
this day, Friday May 26, 1809, at Air, are ano-
ther lamentable proof of what has been advanced
on this subject; for they were both useful trades-
men, and by not pursuing their industry with con-
tentment, they were led into practices that brought
them to a shameful and premature death, and de-
prived society for ever of that   assistance which
it was their duty to have given it.

They were both natives of Ireland?William
Dornan was by trade a blacksmith, and Robert
Smyth a shoe-maker. Smyth had enlisted with the
21st regiment, and afterwards deserted.

They appeared to be connected with a man of
the name of Cunning, a cotton spinner, from Bel-
fast, who was at Air the time the robbery was com-
mitted, and appeared at their trial as an exculpatory
witness. He then stated, that in September last he
was in Air, and on the evening of the 10th, he
went to the quay, and staid there till late expect-
ing to have got away with a vessel which did not
sail. He then came up to town along with another
man of the name of Muir, who he believed went
afterwards to Dublin and enlisted. When near the
far end of the bridge he saw Smyth and Dornan
listening to a quarrel. They advised him not to
cross the bridge, but to go round by the street to
avoid the bustle. When passing up the street he
saw two men carrying bundles. Smyth and Dor-
nan then run after them, and got two bundles
which those who had run off dropped He also
stated that he never touched the bundles, but im-
mediately left Dornan and Smyth.

This was also the very same manner in which
Dornan and Smyth said they got the goods, when
taken before the Magistrates, and examined respect-
ing the robbery, although Smyth, who was first
apprehended, in a public-house in Prestick, while
on the road to Air, and before this examination
took place, admitted knowing something of the
goods stolen, and further, that he was one of the
two who were at the shop that was entered, but
that he only stood at the door while Dornan hand-
ed out the goods. He also agreed, when brought
to Air, to shew the place where the goods were
concealed and war, seat accordingly under a guard.
He said on the road, that Dornan was at Irvine
trying to get a passage in any vessel for Ireland, and
to take the goods with him, and that he would be
back between four and six.

When they came to the place where the goods
were hid, Dornan was discovered, who run off on
their coming near him, but was pursued, and then
taken; and the goods, in two large packages, were
found in Prestick Lands, by Smyth's directions.?
This transaction, contrasted with what was said by
Cunning the exculpatory evidence, but too clearly
evinced their guilt; indeed the Judge who presided
at the trial considered him as an objectionable wit-
nese, but the Advocate Depute having no objections
to him, well knowing the Jury would see the absur-
dity of what he advanced when they compared his
statement with other parts of the evidence, there-
fore he was permitted to give his evidence as above

The articles taken from the shop, which was en-
tered by means of false keys, consisted principally
of nineteen pieces of print, five of gingham, silk
chambray, black silk velvet, cotton, ditto, spotted
muslins, imitation shawls, handkerchiefs, &c.?
But although the robbery was immediately adver-
tised, and the goods diligently searched for in every
suspicious quarter, no discovery [             ]
by accident, a child in a house at cloncaird, where
Sally M'Glauchlan, Smyth's wife, had been en-
gaged as a reaper, observed a number of silk hand-
kerchiefs in a bundle which belonged to Sally?she
told her mother, and she communicated it to her
husband, who took the necessary steps to have
Sally apprehended, and her examination led to a
full discovery of the robbery.

The unfortunate men, from the day they were
condemned, conducted themselves with the most
pious resignation, and appeared highly sensible of
the treatment and indulgence they experienced
during their confinement.

Their behaviour at the place of execution was
in every respect becoming their awful situation.-?
They appeared on the scaffold about three o'clock,
took an affectionate leave of the Magistrates and
Ministers who attended them?then addressed the
multitude in a firm manner, acknowledging the
justice of their sentence, and exhorting them to take
warning by their melancholy fate, which they
brought on themselves by neglecting their industry,
and indulging themselves in idleness. After they
finished their address they shook hands with the
executioner, prayed fervently about ten minutes,
gave the fatal signal, and were launched into eter-
nity in presence of the greatest concourse of people
ever remembered to be assembled in Air on any oc-
casion whatever.


Printed by Thomas Duncan, 159, Saltmarket.         

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Date of publication: 1809   shelfmark: 6.314(22)
Broadside regarding the execution of William Dornan and Robert Smyth
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