British Executions

David Dobie

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 18 Aug 1830

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



An account of the Execution of John Thomson and David Dobie, for the Assault,
Murder and Robbery of Margaret Paterson, on the 17th April last, with a
copy of an affectionate Letter sent to Dobie's wife.

David Dobie.                         Margaret Pa'erson.                      John Thomson.

Edinburgh, Wednesday morning, 9' o'clock, 18th August 1830.

THIS morning the above represented unfortunate young men, DAVID
DOBIE and JOHN THOMSON, Carters, from Gilmerton, in the vicinity
of this City, suffered the last punishment of the law at the head of Libberton
Wynd, a little before nine o'clock, for the assault, murder and robbery of Mar-
garet Paterson, an unmarried young woman, on the road near Gilmerton, on
the evening of the 17th April last.

These men were very rude and ill-behaved before and after their trial, it will
be recollected ; and were. obliged to be put in separate cells in the Jail, soon
after their condemnation, on account of the many reflections on one another's
conduct, and on the share that each said the other had in- that late awful and
abominable transaction, that brought them to an untimely and shameful end.
As the time they were doomed to expiate their crimes on the scaffold approached,
they were both brought to a proper sense of their awful situation, and to see
the absolute necessity of an immediate and most fervent appeal to.the only
quarter from which they could possibly expect mercy —to the great God of
heaven and earth, through the death and sufferings of his only begotten Son,
Jesus Christ, This great change must surely be ascribed principally to the in-
defatigable exertions of the Clergy, and other devout persons who visited them,
under the divine blessing The following Letter from Dobie to his wife last
week, will better show the state of their minds at the time :—

" My Dear Wife—I write these lines to you, hoping you may receive some
consolation from them.    This is the only comfort that I can now bestow, to let
you know the state of my mind ; although my guilt does stare me in the face, I
trust God will be merciful to me a humble penitent; although my hands are
stained with the blood of that young woman, I trust the blood of Christ will
wash me from my guilt.    Dear Wife, I am quite resigned to my fate ; I forgive
all my enemies, and trust they will also forgive me ; I die in peace with all
men.    You will not have the pleasure of laying my body in the dust; I beg of
you, as a last wish, that you do not grieve on this account, as these dry bones
will perhaps live to future glory, where men cannot scatter them.
" Dear Wife—Show this letter to the aged father of Margaret Paterson, whose
hoary head we have brought with sorrow to the grave. We sincerely ask his
forgiveness, which is but a poor consolation to him for the loss of his daughter,
whom he held so dear, which, by our wicked and subtle hearts, has left him to
bewail the loss of a child, and you a faithless husband. Give my last sincere
respects to all my friends and comrades, and to the grace of God I leave you
and them for ever—Farewell ! Farewell !                                     D. DOBIE.''

Edinburgh Jail, 12th August 1830.

Accordingly, having been removed from the Jail to the Lock-up-House last
evening, where they devoted a few hoars to sleep, they were early waited on by
the officiating Magistrates and Clergymen this morning ; and, after spending
some little time in religious exercises, and pinioning their arms, soon after
eight o'clock they appeared on the Scaffold, cleanly dressed. After a Psalm was
sung, and an impressive and fervent prayer put up on their behalf, they mount-
ed the fatal drop, where they were seen praying themselves, when the caps
were drawing down on shaking hands. In a few moments a signal was dropped
by Dobie, and they were instantly launched into the World of Spirits, An im-
mense number of spectators attended, After hanging the usual time the bodies
were cut down, and laid in shells to be afterwards conveyed to the College for
dissection.                                                                  (Price One Penny.)

Robertson and Thomson, Printers, Edinburgh.    


This crime report begins: 'An account of the Execution of John Thomson and David Dobie, for the Assault, Murder and Robbery of Margaret Paterson, on the 17th April last, with a copy of an affectionate Letter sent to Dobie's wife. Edinburgh, Wednesday morning, 9 o'clock, 18th August 1830.' This sheet was printed by Robertson and Thomson, Edinburgh, and cost one penny.

Illustrated with rather frightening woodcuts, this broadside tells of a murder of a young woman perpetrated by two carters from Gilmerton, John Thomson and David Dobie, and the subsequent execution of the two condemned prisoners. Highlighting the men's 'very rude and ill-behaved' manner before and after the trial, the report contrasts their loutish behaviour with the calm demeanour that resulted after they had made their peace with God. The last paragraph describes the prisoners' behaviour on the scaffold, while the final sentence closes the subject by mentioning that the bodies of the murderers are now being dissected at the college.

Broadsides are often crudely illustrated with woodcuts - the earliest form of printed illustration, first used in the mid-fifteenth century. Inclusion of an illustration on a broadside increased its perceived value, especially among the illiterate. To keep costs down, publishers would normally reuse their limited stock of generic woodcuts.