British Executions

Patrick Hamilton

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 5 Sep 1716

Crime Location:

Execution Place: Edinburgh

Method: beheaded

Executioner: unknown




Younger of Green, who was Beheaded at the Grass-
merkat of Edinburgh, upon the 5th of September 1716,

MY weeping Muse proceed with murnful Tone,
    And with great Floods of brekish Tears bemoan,
The fatel End of this brave Hamilton,
Who might for Beauty equal Absolom:
A stately Youth, of honour'd Birth and Blood,
Who likewife had an Education Good.
But was by youthful Passions led astray,
And in a Fit, rashly a Man did Slay,
Which tho' not out of Malice,   or Envy,
The Law requires that for it he should Die;
Accordingly, the Sprightly Youth was led
Unto the Scaffold and his Blood their shed.
That thereby he might in some part   Attone,
For th' undesiged mischief he had done,
And likewife as a Caution unto all,
That they may not in such Offences fall;
Tho herein Justice only did take place,
Yet still it is a Lamentable   Case.
That such a comely Youth his Days should end,
In such a manner, and to Grave descend.
Just in the Vigour of his Strength and Years,
Leaving his Friends and Kindred bath'd in Tears,
Just when for Action sit he was become.
And Signal Service both Abroad and Home,
Especialy in Works of Martial kind,
To which this stately Youth was much inclin'd,
What Great Achivements might this Youth have done,

Had he not been snatch'd off the Stage so soon,
By this unhappy Accident and Wrong.
Which suffer'd him not his Days to Prolong,
Let ev'ry Youth, and even the Aged too,
Just warning take and not such Actions do,
As, may deserve the stroak of Justice Fist,
Which none can ward off, much less can Resist,
And as they would avoid enormious Crimes,
And there desert, let them begin by Times,
T'avoid all lesser evils which makes way,
For greater ones, such as to Rob and Slay;
For litle Faults, by some cal'd venial Sin,
Do ope the Door that lets all others in ;
It therefore much concerns both Young and Old,
Against all kind of Vice strick Watch to hold,
And in the bud each growing Vice to Nip,
And let no Means, nor no Occasion slip,
Of strengthening counter Vertues in the Mind,
And practice too by which they'l quickly find,   
As virtue Grows, Vice will be beaten down,
And they at last obtain a Glorious Crown.

This execution notice begins: 'ELEGY / ON / The Death of PATRICK HAMILTON Younger of Green, who was beheaded at the Grassmerket of Edinburgh, upon the 5th of September 1716'. The elegy begins: 'My weeping Muse procees with murnful Tone'.

This sheet is unusual in that it is not a formal prose notice of Hamilton's execution, but rather is a poetic act of public mourning. Very little is known about Hamilton, except that which is stated here: he is a youth who 'accidentally' killed someone and is now to be hung. It is possible that someone who knew him commissioned this piece or that the case was well-publicised at the time. It is also possible that this poem was a standard plate owned by the printers, who simply changed the name and details for each separate order.

Reports recounting dark and salacious deeds were popular with the public, and, like today's sensationalist tabloids, sold in large numbers. Crimes could generate sequences of sheets covering descriptive accounts, court proceedings, last words, lamentations and executions as they occurred. As competition was fierce, immediacy was paramount, and these occasions provided an opportunity for printers and patterers to maximise sales.