An account of the Trial of JOHN ARMSTRONG, in the High Court of Justiciary, for Shop
breaking and Theft,.who is to be executed at Edinburgh on Wednesday the 17th day of
MONDAY, 11th December, 1809, came on,
in the High Court of Justiciary, Edinburgh,
the trial of John Armstrong, acculed of breaking
into the shop of Mr. William Robertson, merchant
in Dalkcith, on the evening of the 31st October last,
and stealing therefrom the following articles:?Two
pieces of superfinc black cloth, two pieces of super-
fine blue ditto, two pieces West of England ditto,
two pieces black filk florentine, one imitation shawl,
ten pieces thread edging, ten pieces French cambric,
not entire; five pieces ditto, uncut; nine new silver
watches, and one old ditto.
The prisoner pleaded Not Guilty;'and some ob-
jections stated against the relevancy having been
overruled by the Court; the following evidence on
the part of the public prosecutor was adduced.
Christian Robertson, wife of William Robertson,
merchant in Dalkeith; deponed, That on the night
the robbery was committed, she, along with Mr.
Robertson's apprentice, carefully shut up the shop,
about half part eight o'clock, by looking the doors,
and that the locks were tried after this took place;
that the carried the keys to their dwelling house,
which is immediately above the shop, and deposited
them in her own drawer, which she also locked up;
and about eleven o'clock, when her husband pro.
posed to go down to the shop to put in the watch-
dog, which was his asual practice, she gave him
the keys. On his going down to the shop, he called
out to the deponent that the doors were open, and
asked her if the shop had been previously locked?
to which the answered, that it had. Upon which
Mr. Robertson said, that a robbery had surely been
committed, an both the doors by which there was
access from the back part to the shop, were open.
The witness went down, and saw several parcels
which had been taken from the shelves lying upon
the counter, opened up.
Mr. Robertson, the next witness called, deponed
That when he went down to put his watch dog into
the shop, he found both the doors open by which it
is entered behind; he asked Mrs. Robertson if the
doors had been locked, to which she answered that
they had On examining the shop, he found the ar-
ticles missing which are mentioned in the indictment.
Immediately on this discovery Mr. Robertson awoke
his apprentice, who had gone to bed, and then they
went to the Sheriff-officer in Dalkei'h, to whom the
occurrence was communicate, who accompanied
the deponent in visiting almost the whole public
houses in Dalkeith, but without making any disco-
very. On being shown four watches in Court,
which were covered with leather bags, Mr. Robert-
son swore distinctly to their being his property, its
the bigs not only coutained his private marks, but
the names written upon them corresponded with the
names of the makers of the watches. He also iden
tified a piece of Yorkshire blue cloth, upon which
was his private mark; three pieces of lace, on the
cards of which was the same mark, and as to the
lace, he swore that it was of the same quality as
that stolen from his shop; one piece of florentin
one piece of silk, and three pieces of cut cloth, he
deponed were of the same pattern, texture, and
quality as those of which he had been robbed. the
value of the whole goods carried off he stated to be
L.200 at least; and added, that he never sold a
watch with a bag upon it; the bags, with marks upon
them, being put merely for the use of his apprentice.
John Colcleugh, apprentice to Mr. Robertson.
corroborated the testimony of Mrs. Robertson, and
also swore to the watches being his masters pro-
perty, as he, the witness, had put his private mark
upon them before they were stolen from the shop;
he also identified the other articles sword to by Mr.
William Mackintosh, clerk to James Smith, W S.
found a piece of cloth on the road between Dal-
keith and Edinburgh, on the evening of the rob-
bery; previous to finding which he passed two men
on the road going towards Edinburgh, with bundles
on their backs. This piece of cloth he gave in to
the Sheriff Clerk's Office, and Identified it in Court.
Janet Patison, late servant to Mrs. Fergusson,
Crosscauseway, deponed, that the prisoner came to
live in her mistress's house about a fortnight before
he was apprehended for the robbery. He called
himself Smith, and was accompanied by a woman.
whom the witness understood was his wife as she
was named Mrs Smith, as also by a man of the
name of Brown These persons occupied the upper
or garret rooms of the house; and on the night of
the robbery the prisoner was not in his lodgings at
ten o'clock; but next morning, at seven o'clock the
prisoner knocked at the door, and was let in by wit-
ness. He appeared extremely haggard, his shoes
and stockings were covered with dust. and it seem-
ed to the deponent as if he had been out all night.
James Wilson, Sheriff Clerk of Edinburgh.de-
poned, that he was directed by the Sheriff to search
for the priloner. On going to the house of one
Milns, a spirit-dealer in infirmary-street, alongit
with Mr. Alex. Callander, Town Clerk of this city,
and other officers, they observed the prisoner and
woman, that he called his wife, coming out of said
house. Upon which Archibald Campbell, Town
Officer seized Armstrong, who immediately dropt
a silver watch which Mr. Campbell picked up; and
on a number of people gathering together, the pri-
soner and his wife were taken into Miln's house;
where, on searching him, two watches were found
upon him, between 51. and 61. of money, and a
knife. Two cards of lace, and a piece of silk were
also found on or under a bench on which the priso-
ner's wife fat in Miln's house. Armstrong was then
sent to prison, and the witnefs, with others. pro-
ceeded to his lodgings in the Crosscauseway, where
they found a piece of superfine cloth, and a silk vest
piece lying outside of the window, and also nother
piece of cloth in a closet. Several other witnesses
were examined, whose depositions clearly corrobo-
rared what has been already stated; and no evidence
being adduced on the part of the prisener, Lord
Justice Clerk fummed up the whole in his usual
distinct and candid manner. The Jury then retired
for about half.an hour, when they returned a ver-
dict, all in one voice finding the prisoner GUILTY.
He was in consequence sentenced to be executed at
Edinburgh on the 17th day of January next.
Printed by Thos. Duncan.
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Date of publication:
1809 shelfmark: APS.3.84.22
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