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Broadside entitled 'The Gilmerton Murderers, &c.'


            THE GILMERTON   MURDERERS,   &C.   

A Sketch of the Conduct, Transactions and Behaviour of DAVID DOBBIE and JOHN THOMSON, who were
Executed on Wednesday the 18th August 183O, for Assault; Murder and Robbery, with their Last Dying
Confession, and Behaviour on the Scaffold, &c.                                        EXECUTION.

THE nature of the horrible and disgust-
ing crimes for which these unfortunate
men suffered, is too well known to require
recapitulation here. After a trial which
lasted sixteen hours, they were unanimously
found guilty of robbery, assault, with intent
to ravish, and murder, and sentenced to be
executed on the 18th August 1830, and their
bodies to be given for dissection, when Do-
bie immediately exclaimed, My Lord, it's
a grand thing ye canna disseck the soul ?'

They were confined in the same cell, and
were punctually and constantly attended
upon by the Rev. Dr. Lee and Mr Porteous.
Though they behaved quiet enough to one
another before their trial, they, immediately
after their condemnation, began to reflect on
one another very bitterly ; so much so in-
deed, that they were ultimately confined in
separate cells.

David Dobbie was 26 years of age, and
bad a look of much greater acuteness than
Thomson; when he was very young,his father
had his arm shattered by the upsetting of a
cart, so as to be unfit for labour, and it was
thus necessary that his numerons children
should sooner work for their bread than they
would otherwise have done. David, after he
learned to read and write tolerably, at the
age of eight, assisted his elder brother, who
drove a cart with yellow sand. In a few years
afterwards, he began to drive coals, and he
hadno opportunity of makingfurther progress
in his education, except at an evening school
occasionally. On the subject of the crime for
which he suffered, he had early given a state-
ment, to which, however, little credit can be
given. He said that he knew little more than
that Thomson had given him a tin box,
which box Thomson, on the other hand, deni-
ed that he had ever given him. Two or three
days after the crime was committed, Dobbie
gave this box to another man, stating that
he Lad found it. About the same time he
spoke with brutal levity to some of his com-
panions of the violence which Thomson had
committed. How far he was personally
concerned in this violence can never be
known. As he was home and in bed nearly
an hour before Thomson he had probably
no hand in some of the incredible outrages
of which the wretched female was the victim.
His wife and children are objects of deep
commiseration, and his parents, brothers,
and sisters, are not less so. Dobbie was a
man of a frank and forward dispositon, and,
though fearless of offending the feelings of
others, was often ready to perfom obliging
and neighbourly offices.

John Thomson was 21 years of age, and
was a tall slender man, with a face of little
meaning; he lost his father when he was 2

years old, but was sent some years to school,
where he learned to read and write, and to
repeat the Shorter Gatechism of the Church
of Scotland, with the Scripture proofs; this
useful manual had made little impression on
his mind, as he had long forgotten it. At a
Sunday evening school, for religous instruc-
tion, he had been exercised in other tasks,
but apparently with little effect; both he and
his companion seem to have thought, tha:
their attendance at this school was a suffici-
ent apology for absence from public worship,
and they considered the exhortations, which
they heard there, as an equivalent to preach-
ing. Thomson, at the age of 12 years, be-
gan to drive a cart with yellow sand, and he
afterwards became the driver of a cart with
coals, which he was in the habit of retailing
in small quantities among poor people, who
were unable to buy more than a hundred
weight or two at a time. While he led this
life, his chief companions were young men
of the same occupation, and for some years
past he has associated more with David Dob-
bie than with any other person, and has been
much addicted to drinking. According to
his own statement, he was always simple and
easy led, and scarcely ever had a good advice
from any person, with the exception of his
mother. On the fatal Saturday evening, when
the crime was committed, he had been drink-
ing more than usual, and they would not
have seen the woman who lost her life, if
Dobbie would have passed the public-house
where she came up to them. She had been
drinking much too. The atrocities, perpetrated
in the dead of night he has never detailed, and
though he has sometimes said that nobody
knew so much of the transaction as himself,
he has occasionally hinted that the injuries
might as well been inflicted by other hands
than either his or Debbie's. He sometimes
said that Dobbie was answerable only for the
robbery; at other times he said that this was
not the only act of which Dobbie was guilty ;
but though he was aware that Dobbie had
offered to become King's evidence, he general-
ly said that it was hard to take a man's life for
all that Dobbie had done. Expressions some-
times dropped from him, from which it
might have been inferred that he had bound
himself not to reveal what he knew of Dob-
bie's guilt,?but his general remark was,
that it could do no good now, and that the
declarations said to have been made by the
woman were in some respects not true, and
could not be correct, as she was so very
drunk" as to be incapable of remembering
any thing. He has never denied his guilt,
and he is said to have been employed, almost
without intermission, in reading the Scrip-
tures and ohter serious books, and in pray-
ing and singing psalms.

Their unfortunate victim.

The crowd assembled to witness the exe-
cution was fully as great as on any similar
occasion for these several years; but there
was no shouting nor other indication of po-
pular feeling displayed. There was a great
number of people from the country present.

Yesterday morning these two criminals
suffered the last punishment of the law, at
the usual place of execution, for the atrocious
murder and robbery of Margaret Paterson,
committed on the road to Gilmerton in April
last. We scarcely recollect any person in
the situation of Dobie and Thomson, whose
fate has excited less commiseration. The
nature of the crimes for which they stood
accused almost precluded any feeling of pity;
and the magistrates, from a praiseworthy de-
sire that their names and infamy should die.
with them, refused access to all but relatives
and official persons. Thomson received the
final visit from his relatives on Friday last.
and the scene was highly affecting. Tues-
day night Dobbie was visited by his brother
and a friend. The criminals were taken from
the jail to the Lock-up-house in a carriage
on Tuesday afternoon about five o'clock, and
spent the evening in reading and devotional
exercises. About midnight they lay down,
but did not sleep. Before lying down Dob-
bie wrote to his wife and other relations, in
which he exhorted them to turn from the
evil of their ways, and seek for mercy through
the merits of the Redeemer. Thomson also
wrote to his mother ; his letter was very la-
conic. It merely stared that he entertained
hopes of pardon through the merits of Jesus
Christ, and bade her farewell. In the course
of the night Thomson washed his feet and
legs, as he said it might be more comfort-
able ; but his real object was different, and
his companion seemed to understand it, for
he said " Never mind, Jock, we will be well
enough scrapit in the College." This coarse
expression is perhaps as good an illustration
of Dobbie's character as can be given.

Shortly before six o'clock, the reverend
Dr. Lee and Mr Porteous were in attendance
upon the criminals.?They both exhibited
the utmost firmness and resignation, acknow-
ledged the many sins of which they had
been guilty, and expressed a sincere hope of
salvation through the blood of Christ. After
prayer and singing a hymn, a basin of tea
was given to each, and at a quarter past
seven, they came down stairs, and had their
arms pinioned. On entering the apartment
where the executioner was, Dobbie looked
wildly around, appeared much agitated, and
immediately exclaimed, I thought we were
going up," (meaning to the scaffold). To
Thomson he said, " 1 hope the Lord will
have mercy upon us!" to which Thomson,
in rather an absent manner, responded, " I
hope so."?Thomson was throughout re-
markably composed ; he appeared indifferent
to all worldly matters, and never uttered a
word, except to questions asked ; and these
he generally answered by " Yes" or " No."
except in one instance, when she said, " I am
as composed now as ever I was in my life."
Dobbie, on the contrary, was unusally rest-
less and disturbed. He inquired the hour,
and wished to ascertain how long they would
remain in the house. When the executioner
commenced pinioning them, each seemed
much interested in the fate of his companion
?hut they did not speak. On entering the
apartment where Dr Lee and Mr Porteous
were, Dobbie in reply to a question as to
how he felt, said, " The Lord, I hope, has
given me strength.'' When asked, if they
wished any particular Psalrn, Hynm or Par-
aphrase, to be sung, Dobbie answered that
he wished the Hymn beginning " The hour
of my departure's come." It being mention-
ed that they had just sung that hymn up
stairs, he said, " Well, any one you like best

will do as well....sing the 51st Psalm." This
was done accordingly, commencing with the
words, " AM mine iniquities blot out;" and
both joined in singing. Mr Porteous then
prayed earnestly, the criminals kneeling. It
was during this scene that their feelings and
state of mind were most strongly marked....
Thomson threw himself on his
vered his face with his hands, and continued
apparently anxiously responding to the pe-
tition put up on his behalf, but not a sound
escaped his lips. Dobbie's conduct formed,
on the other hand, a complete contrast to the
coolness, but not indifference, of Thomson.
At some parts of the prayer, particularly
those wherein their state as fallen men....the
situation of the village to which they belong-
ed, as being very wicked, and the helpless
condition of Dobbie's widow and children,
were alluded to, occasionally a deep groan
involuntarily escaped him, or the exclamation
of " Oh ay ?eh yes!" Before the prayer
was concluded, he rose on one knee, turned
half round, and convulsively grasped a psalm
book, which he held between his hands ; in
fact, every movement of his body and ex-
pression of his countenance conveyed, in
language too striking to be misunderstood,
the impression that his mind was ill at ease
?that his whole soul was awfully troubled.
They were then advised to pray by them-
selves, and both complied. Dobbie prayed
aloud, calling for " Help in this day of trou-
ble ;" " that the Lord would not hide Ms
face from him, but be merciful, for he was a
great sinner ;'' and similar emphatic Scrip-
tural expressions.?Thomson was not heard
to pray. On rising, they both thanked the
reverend gentlemen for their attention ; and
Dobbie said, " I hope our fate will be a
warning to that wicked place to which we
belong !'' To the Governor of the Jail, Mr
Rose, he said, " Will you look after my poor
wife and children ?" and an answer in the, .
affirmative seemed to give him great relief.
The condition of his family, we understand,
has preyed heavily on his mind. He again
returned to devotional exercises.

On the magistrates, Bailies Morton and
Anderson, being announced, both criminals
arose, and declared themselves ready; and
almost immediately thereafter proceeded to
the scaffold ? Thomson being assisted by
Mr Porteous, and Dobbie by Dr Lee. When
they reached Libberton Wynd, a sort of buz-
zing noise was heard from the crowd in the
Lawnmarket; this seemed to affect Dobbie
much, and Dr Black procured him a glass of
water, which he drank eagerly." (When on
the drop he again called for water, which
was given him.) On the platform, a portion
of the 40th psalm was sung, and Dr. Lee
prayed. The criminals then took their places
on the drop....the ropes were adjusted, and
they prayed for some minutes. In answer
to a question put to Thomson, he said his
sentence was just and proper; and Dobbie
at the same time said, " I do not deny my
guilt.'' Having bidden farewell to those
around them, Dobbie asked Thomson if he
was ready, to which the latter instantly re-
plied, " I am ready," and the former giving
the signal, the drop fell. Thomson strug-
gled more than his companion, but neither
appeared to suffer long.

After hanging the usual time, the bodies
were lowered down, and conveyed to the
Lock-up-house, previous to being delivered
to the Professor of Anatomy.


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Date of publication: 1830   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(69)
Broadside entitled 'The Gilmerton Murderers, &c.'
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