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Broadside entitled 'An account'


An account of the Trial and Sentence of John
Campell, and William Helm, accnsed of culpable
Homicide, whereby Alexr. Lawson a shearer met
his death at Currie.
John Campbell and William Helm were next brought to the bar, accussed of cul-
pable homicide, wickedly and recklessly attacked and laid hold of Alexander Law-
son' weaver, dragged him out from thence, and pushed, or with blows knocked, the
said Alexander Lawson to the ground with violence, whereby his skull was frac-
tured; and, in consequence of which, he died immediately thereafter. The prison-
ers pleaded not guilty.                                                                  

Jane Carson or Lawson, was the first witness called, and, on the Lord Justice-
Clerk asking, with reference to the mode of administering the oath, to what reli-
gious profession she belonged?if she was a Roman Catholic ??she replied with
peculiar emphasis, " I am a member of the Church of Scotland." Having been
sworn, she deponed nearly as follows :------I am widow of the deceased Alexander
Lawson, who was a native of Ireland, which country he left about a year and a half
ago We travelled from Glasgow in search of employment, and arrived at Currie
about 8 o'clock on the evening of the 6th August, my husband, myself, and five
children. Upon reaching Currie, we went to search for a lodging house, but could
find none. We went to Mr Bardie's, and meeting a woman at the door, whom I
supposed to be the mistress of the house, I asked to be allowed to remain for the
night, as Edinburgh was too far distant for us to reach it. This person said, that
Mr Hardie was not at home ; but neither bade nor forbade us to remain. I asked
If we would be permitted to stop till Mr Hardie returned ? She said we might.
We then went into a shed?a cart shed?and sat down. About nine, went to en-
quire if Mr Hardie had returned ; and was informed he had not. I returned to the
shed ; and my husband said there surely could be no offence taken at our remaining
for the night where we were. We drew a cart out of a corner; and gathered some
"oats" of straw that lay about, to make a bed for the children. My husband then
said I had better try and get some porridge or brose made for them. I went, Oh !
unfortunately went to the house of Campbell, and asked hs wife if she would per-
mit a little drop of water to be boiled ; she refused, saying her husband had to go
to his work in the morning, and she could not then light the fire ; I tried another
house, and not being able to get warm Water, returned to the shed. Our money-
was almost all gone; we had only one sixpence left, with which I purchased 4d!
worth of bread, Id- worth of sugar, and a bottle of beer, and gave them to the
children. We stripped ourselves naked, put the clothes under the children and our-
selves, along with the straw, and were covered by a pair of blankets which I had
with me. Just after lying down, my husband said to the two eleder children, " to
be mindful of their duty to their God, for the Almighty was as much with them in
that shed as if they had been in a palace. Two men came into the shed, and went
up to the opposite corner, when they said, " they are not here" but Campbell, the
tall man, came over to where we were lying, and took hold of my husband's arm,
and Helm fastened on him immediately thereafter and dragged him from out his
bed, they swearing and crying at the time "you?? what brings you here?
My husband replied, ' Boys if there is any offence, I will rise and go away." I
now saw a third person who stood outside, and who afterwards prevented us getting
out of the shed. The two men that laid hold of my husband , pulled him out of the
shed and murdered him...I heard the noise of ' slaps', By the time I got out, my
husband was stretched on the ground, and these two men standing beside him.

The deceased's daughter corroborated her mothers evidence.
Certificates were read, by which it appeared that both prisoners had always sus-
tained irreproachable characters. Both have families.
The Lord Advocate addressed the jury on behalf of the crown.    He would wil-
lingly have left this case altogether in the hands of the Court, but his duty must be
performed. He would very shortly point out the nature of the crime with which
they stood charged.    Murder by the law, required the intention to kill to its being
proved ; but culpable homicide was the commission of any culpable act, by which
the death of a fellow creature ensued, although the perpetrator might not intend it.
His Lordship read a passage from Baron Hume's commentaries, where it is laid
down, that if one man push another, that he fall, and death ensue in consequence,
it is culpable homicide, That is exactly the case, undoubtedly this poor man came
by. His death by the fall he sustained. By whom was he thrust down, unquestion-
able by the pannels, the conduct of this poor man was in no respect such as to jus-
tify their violence, nothing was done by this poor family to tempt any one to do
them an injury, they were poor and destitute, and wandering in search of work, in
the course of their wanderings they came to the village of Currie, they sought a lodg-
ing for the night but could find none; they were told there were no lodging houses,
but were directed to Mr Hardies, as a compassionate gentlemen, who afforded hos-
pitality and shelter to unfortunate strangers. It was grevious to find this poor for-
lorn family so unkindly used ; they asked water, but it was refused them, yet they
made no complaint; they asked a little straw to make a bed for their children, but
it could not be given them, still they made no remonstrance, but meekly retired to
their miserable lodging place without any ; when Heatly the servant refused them
straw, even the unfortunate father, with a meek submission which did him the high-
est honour, made not the smallest token of discontent, but peaceable retired, and
scraping together such as they could find lying about, hey endeavoured   to make
themselves as comfortable as their wretched situation afforded ; when Mr Ross, Mr
Hardie's nephew, sometime after found them in the shed, far from finding fault, he
asked them if they had got any straw, and with the feelings of a gentleman offered
them some ; but they humbly declined givirg tham any trouble, "surely they might
now think they had found a refuge, though a miserable one for the night; and they
stripped themselves of all their clothes, to make a bed for their poor children, and   
here a scene took place, which it was impossible to contemplate; without being more
affected than any public speaker would wish to be. (here his lordship and the whole
Court were evidently much affected.) this poor family were reduced to the lowest
Poverty, they had only one sixpence in the world, which they laid out in bread for
their children, in this situation this poor old man not only strips himself for the
benefit of his children, but he directs them to offer up their supplications to that
God whose presence was with them even in this shed, and who was as able to pro-
tect them here as if they were in the   most splendid palace, from a public house
Campbell's wife went to bring her husband   home ; and for this purpose she tells
a story about being insulted, and people coming into the house : Campbell did then
do home.    He went into his house: for when Helm and Scott came to his house,
shortly afterwards, he opened the door on the inside.    He ought to have inquired
at his wife the particulars of the alleged insult ; but he went out with intent to in-
jure these poor people.    He goes from shed to shed, and when lying in supposed
security, this poor man is attacked and pulled in a state of nudity, from his miser-
able shelter.    Still his peaceable disposition predominates, for he declares if he has
given any offence he will rise and go away : but he is answered with a blow which
sounds 50 or 60 yards off.    He falls and shortly dies. Under all these circum-
stances Lordship claimed a verdict of guilty in terms of the libel.

We regret very much that our limits will not admit of an outline, of the able and
affecting addresses of the judges, and the very able defence of the prisouer's counsel.

After a suitable admoniton from the Lord Justice lerk, the prisoners were sen-
tenced to seven years transportation. 7 7s was collected for the Widow.

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Probable date of publication: 1835-1836   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(98)
Broadside entitled 'An account'
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