Date Of Execution: 12 Dec 1827
Execution Place: Glasgow
Account of the behaviour in confinement and on the Scaffold,
of JAMES GLEN, who suffered at Glasgow on Wednes-
day the 12th of December, 1827, for the terrible, cruel, and
barbarous Murder of his own infant child, by throwing it
into the Forth and Clyde Canal, at a place called the New
Plash, with an account of his sorrowful parting with his
friends. His body was afterwards given for disscetion,
GLASGOW, l2th Dec. 1827.
This day, the awful sentence of death was fulfilled upon the above unhappy
man, for the brutal murder of his own child, James Glen, a child 17 months old,
on the lst May, 1827, by barbarously and feloniously choaking and strangling the
said child, and squeezing its throat with his hands, or by tying a string tight round
its throat, or by some other means, and did afterwards throw it into the Forth and
Clyde Canal, at a place called the New Plash, on the 9th of the said month of May,
of which murder he was found Guilty before the High Court of Justiciary at Edin-
burgh on the 10th November last, and received the sentence of death, and was sent
back to Glasgow afterwards, to await the time of its execution.
Since his conviction, he has been very penitent and resigned to his fate, and paid
every attention to the Ministers who attended him in his Christian devotions, and
who explained to him various passages fitted for his instruction and comfort in his
awful and trying situation. After 8 o'clock, he entered the Hall, and was assisted
there by those Ministers who previously attended him, and after putting up prayers
and praise in his behalf, he proceeded to the scaffold, where, after spending a few
minutes in fervent prayer, he gave the signal, and after a few struggles, his spirit
fled to an unknown state. His body, after hanging, about thirty-five minutes, was
cut down, and conveyed, under a proper escort, to Dr. Jeffrey, Professor of Ana-
tomy in the College of Glasgow, for public dissection.
The case of this unfortunate man did not excite much commisseration, owing to
the horrid nature of the deed; a man to murder his own child, in order to get clear
of expense, after receiving it under his charge from its mother, cannot in the smal-
lest degree be justified. Though it was illegitimate, it was he that was to blame,
and therefore should have protected, and not mangled, murdered, and thrown into
the Canal, a child of 17 months old, perhaps at the time smiling in the father's face,
and the body of which he afterwards passed lying on the banks of the Canal, blam-
ing some person in that neighbourhood for doing the deed. The only defence that
he made on his trial was, that he gave the child to a poor woman whom he met in
the Cowcaddens. He gave her 12 shillings for its support. Denied murdering it,
or being accessory to its death, but we understand, has since owned his guilt.
He took an affectionate leave of his relatives and friends the day previous to his
execution, and hoped they would not grieve on his account, but live in peace and
good will with all mankind. He was sorry that any act which he had committed,
should tend to stain their reputation, and hoped that none would blame them on
his account. The meeting was most affecting, especially at parting.
He was a good looking young man, about 22 years of age, and was carter. He
belonged to New Kilpatrick, and has resided in other country villages. He has
a number of decent friends, who are left to mourn over his untimely end. He was
decently dressed in black, and thanked the Governor and other servants in the jail
for the kind treatment he had received from them. He made his escape along with
some other prisoners, by breaking the jail, but gave himself up before his trial.
The fate of this young man should prove a warning to all, to keep from every
thing that might tend to lead from the strict line of integrity, and not to imbrue
their hands in the blood of a fellow creature, be he old or young, friend or enemy.
W. Carse, Printer, Glasgow.
This report begins, 'Account of the behaviour in confinement and on the Scaffold, of JAMES GLEN, who suffered at Glasgow on Wednesday the 12th of December, 1827, for the terrible, cruel, and barbarous Murder of his own infant child . . . with an account of his sorrowful parting with his friends. His body was afterwards given for dissection.' Printed in Glasgow on 12th December, 1827, by William Carse.
James Glen had escaped Glasgow Jail a few months earlier, but had given himself up after finding no-one would harbour him. Due to the horrific nature of his crime - murdering his child 'to get cease of expense', it is said that 'the case . . . Did not excite much comisseration'. As a final insult, his body was sent for public dissection at Glasgow College.
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.