Date Of Execution: 1 May 1717
Execution Place: Brughtoun
T H E L A S T
Of Mr. Robert Irvine, who was Execute May 1st, 1717. near Brughtoun, between
Leith and Edinburgh, for Murdering John and Alexander Gordons, Sons to James
Gordon of Allan, on Sunday the 28th of April 1717.
SOME Ministers, desirous to assist as much as possible the above-named Criminal
in his Preparations for Eternity, went and Visited him in the Forenoon of the said
Day, in whose Presence he Confessed, That he had, since he could distinguish be-
tween Good and Evil, been a great Sinner, and had never spent so much as one Day as
he ought to have done.
That the horrid Murder he had committed on the Two Boys, his Pupils, be had pro-
jected Three Days before, but did not pretend that either the said Boys or the Parents
had given him the least Provocation; and affirmed, that the Servant Maid now in Prison
knew not of the intended Murder.
He confess'd also, That his Sins, particularly this of deliberate and wilful Murder,
were of so heinous a Nature, and of so deep a Dye, that he was afraid that God
would not have Mercy on him and had particularly this Expression, That Snares,
Fire and Brimston would be his Portion, and that the Tribulation and Anguish threatned
against the Wicked would fall upon him. He had some Days before said to a Minister
whom he met with on the Street of Edinburgh, that in partaking of the blessed Sacra-
ment he had eaten and drunken unworthily, and consequently brought Damnation on
himself. This despondent Temper he was in, kept him from exercising himself so much,
in Prayer as became one in his Circumstances, and from being so desirous as he ought
to have been of the Prayers of others, which he did not desire, till it was proposed to
him whether he would have them pray for him.
Being asked if he was sensible of the Evil of that heinous Sin he was guilty of, and
the Danger he was in ; he answered, That he had some Sense of it, and Sorrow for it,
but not to that Degree that were to be wished, and that he had a stonny and obdur'd
One of the Ministers present, at his Desire, pray'd for him: About the Middle of
the Prayer, when some Petitions were put up, That God might grant him a Sense of
his Sin, That of His infinite Mercy He would vouchsafe him Grace to Repent, and have
Recourse to the Merits and Mediation of our blessed Saviour, and that God, of His in-
finite Mercy, for Christ's Sake, would have Mercy on this monstrous Sinner ; while
these Petitions were a putting up, and all the while till Prayer was ended, he seem'd
more than ordinarly concern'd, and discover'd a greater Concern for his eternal State than
had been observed before.
After he had been often asked what prompted him to so monstrous a Crime, he
could give no tolerable Account of it; but when he was pressed a little on this Head,
he said before many Witnesses, That the Predestinarian Principles had led him into it.
And being ask'd where he learned these Principles, he said from a Book he had out of
the College Library. And being ask'd what Book that was, he answered, one of Flavel's.
He desir'd one that was present to take care of his Books, and conceal his Papers, for he
said there were many foolish Things in them.
He imagin'd that he was to be hung in Chains, and shew'd some Concern on that Ac-
He pray'd the Parents of the murdered Children to forgive him, which they very
Christianly consented to. He was always of a reserv'dand melancholly Disposition.
At the Sight of the bloody Cloaths in which the Children were murder'd, which were
brought to him in the Prison a little before he went to the Place of Execution, he was
much affected, and broke out into Groans and Tears.
When he came to the Place of Execution the Ministers pray'd for him, and he also Pray'd
himself but with a low Voice. He own'd that he had Four Times attempted to de-
bauch the Servant Woman he was blam'd with, but that he was not actually guilty with
her, and declared he design'd to have married her. Both his Hands were struck off by the
Executioner, and he afterwards hanged ; while he was hanging, the Wound he gave him-
self in the Throat with the Penknife when he WAS apprehended broke out afresh, and
the Blood gushed out in great Abundance.