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

Broadside entitled 'Execution'


A Full, and Particular, Account of the Execution of John
Wilson, and Duncan Fraser, who were Executed, at the
Head of Libberton Wynd, on Wednesday morning the
28th. January, 1824, for Housebreaking and Theft, with
a, Particular Account, of their Behaviour since their con-
demnation, and   at the Place of Execution.

THESE Unfortunate Young Men, JOHN WILSON, and DUNCAN FRA-
SER, were tried at Edinburgh, before the High Court of Justiciary, and
a respectable Jury, on Monday the 22d of December last, for Housebreaking and
Theft, aggravated by being habit and repute common Thieves. They were
charged with breaking into the Shop of Mr James Smyth, tailor and broker in
St Mary's Wynd, Edinburgh, on the 8th of October last, and stealing therefrom
a great many articles of Wearing Apparel. To which charge they both pled
Guilty, though repeatedly cautioned by the Lord Advocate, as to the perilous
situation in which they stood, and the serious nature of the charge, upon which
a capital sentence must inevitably follow, it not being his intention to restrict
the libel to an arbitary punishment. They adhered to thier confession of
Guilt, however, which was recorded, and they were duly convicted in terms thereof,

The Lord Justice Clerk, in pronouncing judgment, said it was distressing to
observe, that the offence of housebreaking and theft should be persevered in by
persons arrived at the prisoners' age of maturity and discretion, notwithstand-
ing the examples which had been very recently made, in this very city, of indit
viduals who had forfeited their lives to the violated laws of their country. I
was still more distressing to observe, that the prisoners belonged to a class of
offenders who laboured under the repute of being habitual thieves, and of hav-
ing been previously convicted of theft. Would to God that they had taken
warning from the example of the first conviction, and that the Court had been
spared the pain of inflicting....that the prisoners had been thus happily rescued
from the dreadful necessity of suffering.... and that their distressed relatives had
been spared the affliction of, witnessing?the disgraceful punishment of their
guilt. His Lordship, under a very evident oppression of feeling, proceeded to
to state that he had that morning seen a letter from the father of the prisoner,
Wilson, which, appeared to have been written under all the agony of mind which
a parent might be expected to feel on contemplating the present disgraceful si-
tuation of his son. (This unfortunate lad's parent, we understand, is now in a
mad house of this City, having lost his reason on hearing the condemnation of
his Son). His Lordship, after recommending the prisoners to apply, without
loss of time, to spiritual counsel and assistance, then read the sentence of the
Court, ordaining the prisoners to be executed on Wednesday, the 28th of Janu-
ary next, between the hours of eight and ten morning.

Accordingly, they were early on Tuesday removed to the Lock-up-House,
where they were waited on by several of their nearest relations, and the separa-
tion from some of them was most appaling to the most hardened feelings. The
Clergy of the city, as well as the Chaplain of the Jail, and other good Christians
in town; were most attentive and most earnest for their religious instruction
and edification, which they repeatedly and sincerely acknowledged.

They slept little or none on Tuesday evening, and the Clergyman and offi-
ciating Magistrates waited on them in the Hall of the Lock-up-House, a little
before Eight o'clock on Wednesday morning, when they joined most fervently
in the devotional supplications put up on that occasion. After which, their arms
were pinioned, and the melancholy procession moved up, in a slow and solemn .
manner, to the head of Libberton Wynd, attended by a strong detachment of
Police Officers. They appeared on the scaffold, decently dressed, about half-
past eight o'clock, where a psalm was sung, in which they joined; and a most
impressive prayer put up for them to the throne of mercy, by one of the Cler-
gymen present; during which they appeared most devout and attentive to what
was so eloquently urged in thir behalf. Having taken a solemn farewell of '
those around them, they mounted the fatal drop, with a little assistance, where
they appeared most fervent in prayer, while the ropes were adjusting round
the beam. All things being prepared, and having taking farewell of each other,
they dropt the signal, and were launched into eternity about 9 o'clock.

Edinburgh, Printed for James Dogherty, Price One Penny,

previous pageprevious          
Date published: 1824   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(17)
Broadside entitled 'Execution'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland