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

Broadside entitled 'Execution'



A Genuine account of the execution of
Thomas Black, who was, executed at
Edinburgh this day for Housebreaking
with a sketch of his life and transac-
tions since his infancy,

This day, (10th Dec. )Thomas Black was brought up to un-
dergo the awful sentence of the law at the head of Libberton
Wynd, Edinburgh, for breaking into a house in the parish of
south Leith, along with John Reid. Reid has got a respite
during his Majesty's pleasure.

Since this unfortunate young man's condemnation, he has
evinced, we understand, a most becoming sense of his melan-
choly saituation, as well as the deepest contrition for his dissolute
habits of life. A few weeks ago he requested to be indulged
with a separate cell, as the society of his companions in misery
led to conversations on their former way of life, which served
to interrupt his more serious reflections, and to divert his mind
from those important considerations which his awful situation
was so powerfully calculated to excite. A respite for his fel-
low-sufferer who is somewhat yeunger, was received last week.
It can be no impeachment of the generosity of Black, or of the
sincerity of his repentance, to find that this act of mercy to an-
other, awakened in him all that love of life which had seeming-
ly been extinguished for ever. He sunk into a state of the
most heartless despondency for some time, and he could neither
think of the present nor of the future without the most agoniz-
ing feelings. During 2 days he scarcely tasted food. His mind,
however, was restored to its wonted tranquillity, and he ex-
pressed himself with calmness and resignation on the subject of
his approaching fate, an event to which he looked forward as

The Scaffold was erected as usual during Tuesday night.
and about seven o'clock next morning numbers were assembl-
ed and had taken their stance, near to the palling around the
scaffold. About half past eight, the melancholy groupe were
seen advancing slowly up Libberton Wynd, attended by the
Magistrate, city officers, and a strong guard of police officers;
the unhappy criminal was betwixt and in earnest conversation
with the Clergymen.

After mounting the seaffold, Black scarcely looked on the
immense multitude that was gathered around him ; one of the
clergymen gave a most impressive prayer, during which, and
a psalm which was sung, Black payed the greatest attention.
Having ascended the drop, the executioner commenced adjust-
ing the rope, and after a few minutes spent in private prayer,
he dropped the signal, and the drop immediately fell. The
struggles were very few.

Black was of a slender make, and was 18 and a half years
of age, he called himself only 17 years old when on his trial,
he spent his early years in Campbell's close, Canongate,
and was employed in drawing cords for weavers. His father
was formerly a farmer's servant, and his mother on removing
from the Canongat'e to the Cowgate some years ago, kept a
house of rather a loose character. She died in the Cowgate
and left him and a brother to the mercy of the world, exposed
to all its temptations, from the want of precept as well as ex-
ample ; his father having separated from the family some time
before. Moved by that pity which circumstances such as these
are calculated to excite, wha can but drop a tear for the mis-
fortunes of this unhappy youth, who has this day terminated
his mortal career the hand of a public executioner.


previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1823   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(6)
Broadside entitled 'Execution'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland