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Broadside regarding the trial of John Skelton


An account of the trial of John Skelton which came on before the High Court of Justiciary,
at Edinburgh, on Monday the 2d of March, 1812, for Rioting and Robbery, on the streets

of Edinburgh, on New Year's Morning last, and who is to be executed in that City, on
Wednesday the 15th of April next.?Also the Indictment of Six Persons, concerned in the
same Riots, and accused of the Murder of Dugald Campbell, Police Officer.                     

MONDAY, March 2d, came on, before the
High Court of Justiciary, Edinburgh, the
trial of John Skelton, accused of robbing, on the
night of the 31st of December, 1811, or the morn-
ing of the 1st of January, 1812,

1. George Edmonstone, of a watch-ribbon, with
a seal and key attached. 2. William Robertson, of
a watch-chain, with a seal and key affixed. 3.
William Jolly, of a green silk purse, &c.

The Prisoner having pleaded Not Guilty; the
following witnesses were called to substantiate the

George Edmonstone, clerk, was on the High-
street at half past 11 o'clock on the last night of the
year 1811; crossed from the south to the north side
of the street, a little above the Flesh Market Close;
was stopped by some persons, from about 12 to 20
in number, he supposed, mostly young lads, who
demanded money from him; but, without giving him
time to deliver, struck him with sticks, knocked him
down, and left him lying in a stair, all wet with
blood; tried to get his watch, but the swivel broke;
got his seal and ribbon?shown and identified. At
the close of this witness's evidence, the first charge
Was abandoned, he having distinctly sworn that the
robbery was committed within the Flesh Market
Closs, and the charge laid as on the High-street.

William Robertson, stoneware merchant; was on
the street last new-year's morning; was going from
the West Bow to Nicholson-street by the South-
Bridge; left his shop at five minutes past 12; went
down the High-street with Mr Freyer till he came
to about Mr. Blackwood's shop on the South Bridge;
saw a man, knocked down at the corner; just as he
was turning it he was surrounded, pinned up to the
Well, and robbed of seventeen twenty-shilling notes-
and fourteen guinea notes, which he had in a pocket
book, together with the chain of a watch, seal and
key; he immediately missed his pocket-book; thought
his watch was gone also, as he missed the chain;
there might be about 40 or 50 lads, headed by three
rather taller than the rest, of a size with the prisoner,
but he could not recognize any of them. Shewn
chain, &c. and identified them. He intreated them
to be quiet, and he would give them a shilling to
drink his health, but he received a blow on the head
which knocked his hat off, and saw a stick coming
down to split his skull?the mob afterwards opened
to let him go south.

William Jolly, student of divinity, was in the
street between twelve and one on the first day of
the year; was surrounded by a party of lads, who
demanded a shilling to drink. Said he had no cash,
when two lads, stouter than the rest, held his arms,
and one, a smaller lad, searched his pockets; the
band cried out, knock him down He took out a
green silk purse and shook it, to show he had no
money, when one of the gang snatched it out of
his hand; he received a blow on his arm, and an-
other which brought him to his knee?purse, &c.
shown and identified.

Walter Alexander, apprentice to James Brown,
shoe-maker?saw the Prisoner, John Skelton, on
the last night of the year 1811, about ten o'clock
in the evening; he was at the head of Wordsworth's
Lane, Calton-strect, along with James Johnstone,
mason, Kenneth M'Kenzie, the two Clarks, Ellis
and Campbell, two apprentices to a carver and
gilder, and some more, he does not recollect who;
he heard of no previous agreement to meet that

night; Johnstone desired him to get a stick -- he got

two?Johnstone said, bring as many as possible, but
did not say for what purpose. Skelton joined them;
Johnstone was a leader, and he, witness, and the
rest were to follow. An attack was planned on
the Police; and Skelton, Walker, and Johnstone,
in their outset, lifted an orange or lemon box from
a grocer's door, which they threw at the Police, but
is not certain whether the prisoner had any hand in
this or not?went to Mr. Allan's grounds, and got
branches from the trees; came up in a body to Leith-
street, and afterwards in a straggling way, Johnstone
generally in front; he ordered them to take up stones-
to throw at the Police. He saw about a dozen
Police-men at the head of Leith-street, when he
ran away with Johnstone into the head of an entry,
and did not see Skelton after?saw a number of,
people knocked down in the Old Town afterwards,
saw a Police-man knocked down at the Fountain-
well, and a man at the head of the Flesh-market-
closs. The witness, after receiving a suitable ad-
monition from the Court, was dismissed.

John Chisholm, Police-officer, was on duty the
last night of the year; recollects the rioting; was
sent by the Magistrates for Mr. Tait, in whose house
he was when one o'clock struck, and with whom
he returned to the Police-office, where he remained
till some more of the officers came in, when he went
out with them He fell in with the prisoner be-
tween two and three o'clock, near the head of the
Flesh-market-closs, at the head of a parcel of fellows,
who, when they observed the police, exclaimed,
there's the b?s, knock them down; but when he
and the others turned on them they ran off; the
Prisoner was catched and carried to the Police-office,
where he was searched, and two watch-strings, the
one a ribbon, with a seal and key attached to it, the
other a cord, with a seal and watch-key, were found
in his waistcoat pocket; he was afterwards stripped
and searched more minutely, when a green silk
purse, a note from Dr. Ritchie to Professor Jamie-
son, 9s. in silver, one 1s. 6d piece, were found on
him, all clean and unsullied; the streets were very
dirty; he said the purse belonged to his sister.

[Kenneth M'Kenzie, John Grant, Thomas Mc-
Gibbon, William Walker, and Other witnesses,
were also examined, but their evidence Was nearly
similar to that given above. The witness M'Kenzie
was committed to jail for prevaricating on oath.]

Here the Prisoner's declarations were read, which
went to a denial of the charges?averring that he
had picked up the articles in the street.               

Mr, James Younger, with.whom the Prisoner had
been a servant for one year, gave him an excellent
character for sobriety and honesty. Mr. Innes, gun-
smith, with whom the Prisoner had been for nearly
three years, also gave him a very good character, as
did also several other persons.

A verdict was returned by the Jury on Tuesday,
all in one voice finding the Prisoner guilty of the
second and third charges; but, on account of his
former good character, they unanimously and earn-
estly recommended him to mercy.?He was sen-
tenced to be hanged on Wednesday the 15th of April.

Hugh M'Intosh, Neil Sutherland, Hugh M.Don-
ald, (who went by the nickname of Boatswain) Ge
Napier, John Grotto, and Jas, Johnstone, six of the
persons accused of being concerned in the above
riots and robberies, have been indicted to stand trial
for the murder of Dugald Campbell, Police-officer.
Printed by Thomas Duncan, 159, Saltmarket.

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Date of publication: 1812   shelfmark: 6.314(27)
Broadside regarding the trial of John Skelton
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