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Broadside regarding the execution of James Henderson


The last Speech and dying declaration of JAMES HENDERSON, late


in Bainshole, who was executed at Aberdeen, on Friday the 29th day
of October 1790, for the murder of Alexander Gillespie, Slater, and
his body given to the Surgeons to be dissected.

Aberdeen, printed by James Chalmers.    Glasgow, re printed.               

I JAMES HENDERSON, aged about fifty
years, was born in the town of Huntly, and
county of Aberdeen, of honest and   creditable
purents, who gave me a good and Christian edu-
cation, according to the best of their power. Hap-
py is it For them that they are not now living to
be witnesses of my shameful and ignominious end !
As soon as   I was able to do any thing,-I got a
small pack, and travelled the country for a few
years, as a chapman.    In this trade I by my in-
dustry and sobriety contrived to lay by   as much
as enabled me to set up shop in the town of Insch,
where I resided tor several years.    But misfor-
tunes came on me by losses and bad debts, which
occasioned me to fall behind hand, and my affairs
grew worse and worse, till at length my creditors
took all I had, and rouped me out of house and
hald.   About this time I took a fever, and was so
had, that my reason was hurt, and was for some
months out of my senses, when I was put under
the care of she Doctor at Tocher, by whose skill,
under the blessing of God, I was again restored
to the use of my reason, though destitute of mo-
ney or means, and forced to begin   the World

I betook myself to travelling the country again,
and for more than seven years followed my for-
mer occupation.    But at langth I thought it time
to settle, and accordingly married and took pos-
session of Benshole, where I had a small shop for
such goods as suited the country; and as it could
not be expected that I could get much change in
that remote place, so as to support my family, I
also kept a public house, and between both trades
I earned a decent subsistence.

I now come to the unfortunate accident Which
brings me to this deplorable end, and I solemnly
swear, on the word of a dying man who must in a
very short space appear before his Maker, that
whatever I did in this unhappy matter, was in
SELF-DEFENCE, and that I had neither malice
nor ill-will at Alexander Gillespie, nor any other

It was sworn on my trial by a beggar boy, that
Gillespie came to my house seeking a drain, and
that I struck him acress the head with an axe,
which killed him. If this was true, I must have
been a monster of iniquity indeed, to kill a man
standing peaceably in my house without any pro-
ill . No-other witness but this vagrant boy
coule say they saw me strike him; and his testi-
mony was so contradicted in circumstances by the
other witnesses, that no stress could be laid on it.
I therefore proceed to narrate this unhappy aflair
as it really happened; and I hope the world will
credit my narration. I have no tempration now
to tell an untruth ; and it would be an awful thing
to go out of the world into the presence of the
great Judge of all the earth, with a lie in my right

I was awakened in the night between Saturday
and Sunday,the 10th and 11th of July last, by the
noise of breaking one of my Windows, by throw-
of stones at it. I immediately got up and saw a
man almost half in at the Window ; on which I
took up a sharp slate stone which he had thrown
in, and struck him on the back of the head   on
which he fell down, and I took him to the back
of the house, Where he was found by the people
when they came up, I understand many people still
believe that I gave Gellespie his mortal wounds
With an axe ; but let them consider that a thin
sharp slate stone will cut as clean as a knife; and
that there is hardly any other kind of stones in that
neighbourhood ; so that he himself furnished the
fatal instrument which brought him and me to an
untimely end.

I shall only say, that it is well known in the
country, that his character was none of the best;
and if I had been allowed, I could have proved
that breaking of windows, was no new thing to him.
But now there is no help, and I must subrnit to
my hard fate.

I hope none will be so cruel as to cast up rny
sorrowful fate to my distressed wife and family : I
hope the Lord will support her and them under
their afflictions ; and that he who is the father of
the fatherless, and the widow's shield, will be
their God and guide.

I return my sincere thanks to the ministers of
all denominations, who have visited me since I was
condemned. I hope the pains they have taken to
point out to me the way to eternal life, will re-
dound to the glory and praise of their heavenly
Master and to my everlasting happiness.

To the keeper of the tolbooth and his servants
I desire to return thanks for their humanity and
attention to me; and I pray that there kindness
may be returned to them sevenfold.

I desire to die in peace and charity with all
men ; from the heart I forgive rny enemies,
hope for forgiveness at the awful judgement seat
before which I am now to appear.

I acknowledge that by nature I was a child of
wrath, and an heir of hell, dead in trespasses and
in sin, without God, and without hope in the
world, under the curse of the law, but when I
read these words in John chap. iii. 16, 17. 18,
and that " God who commanded the light to shine
" out of darkness," shined in my heart, to give
me the knowledge of salvation by the remission of
sins according to first John c v, v, 10. " so that I
" know when my spirit is absent from my body it
''shall be present with the Lord," I long for that
happy time, when I shall behold my God in glory
in the land of uprightness.

As the Lord in his providence has made me a
example, it is my earnest prayer, that my death of service to others, and that every on
may see and know that there is a God that judgeth
in the earth. It would comfort me [   ] by
my terrible exit one person in this multiude might
turn from his sins unto God.

And new, O Lord Jesus, I turn to thee, Hea
thou my last words. Remember me, now tha
thou art in thy kingdom, and be merciful to me
this day; receive my sinful soul into the arms o
thy mercy, and grant that my sufferings in this life
being ended, I may be blessed in the enjoyment o
thee to all eternity. Amen and Amen.


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Date of publication: 1790   shelfmark: 6.365(104)
Broadside regarding the execution of James Henderson
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