This report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Execution of THOMAS BLACK, who was Executed at the Head of Libbertoo [Libberton's] Wynd, Edinburgh, this morning, Wednesday the 10th December, 1823, for Housebreaking and Theft; and of his behaviour since his Condemnation, and at the Place of Execution.' It was published in Edinburgh for R. Forrest and sold for one penny.
Thomas Black and his accomplice, John Reid, were both tried for breaking into the house of Mr Alexander White of South Leith and stealing a number of his possessions. The jury found them both guilty, but on account of their youth recommended them to mercy. The judge, meanwhile, having no such consideration for their fate, sentenced both young men to be executed. Whilst Reid received a reprieve soon after, Black was executed for the crime of housebreaking.
The many crime reports that form part of the National Library of Scotland's broadside collection offer a fascinating insight into crime and punishment in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Scotland. Whilst the penalty of death might appear unusually harsh in the case of Thomas Black, execution was in fact a common punishment for housebreaking and theft at this time.
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1823 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(335)
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