British Executions

Allan Mair

Age: 80

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 4 Oct 1843

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



Of Allan Mair, an old man of 8O, for the Murder of Mary Fletcher, aged 85,
at Candie End, or Curshort, parish of Muiravonside, who suffered at Stir-
ling, this morning, Oct. 4, 1843, together with his behaviour in the Con-
demned Cell.

STIRLING, October4, 1843

This morning the awful spectacle was exhibited to the view of a vast con-
course of spectators, o the Execution of Allan Mair, a man aged eighty four
years of age, who was convicted of the Murder of his Wife, Mary Fletcher or
Mair, at Candie End or Curshort parish of Muiravonside, on the night of
Sunday the 14th, or morning of Monday the 15th May last, by beating her
with a stick or other weapon, by which she came by her death.—Fletcher was
eighty five years of age

Mair solemnly declared his innocence of the crime of which he was found
guilty, insisting that the evidences adduced on his trial had perjured them-
selves, and nothing seemed for some time capable of convincing him but that
he had been unjustly condemned.

As some of our readers may not have read any of the evidence, we give the
following, which we think is pretty decisive as to his guilt :—

Helen Bennie or Nimmo—Knows Mair, and identified him Mair came
to reside there in May, 1842 Had a woman that had stopt with him thirty
years. Heard her say so on the 14th May last She passed as his reputed
wife. Her name was Mary Fletcher. She died on the 16th May, at four o'-
clock. Witness was with her when she died, and was in the constant habit of
seeing her since she came to reside there. Visited her Once or twice a day.
Told witness she was eighty-five years old Looked fully that age. Deceas-
ed Could not walk well—had got a hurt on her back Deceased never was
unwell but once while there, and this was about the New Year. Said that she
did not get her victuals as she ought from Mair. Said so in Mair s presence.
Panel gave deceased some abusive language, and wished she was in hell and
her soul burning. Never knew them want victuals out of the house, but ho
kept them locked up. Many a time he starved her, but witness always gave
her something to eat, and some of the neighbours did so too; but this was al-
ways done when panel was out Deceased seemed a well-disposed person.—
Mair always abused her, and often wished she was dead. Deceased often said
' We could live like the king on the throne, although we are poor, if you
were good to me.' Saw her on the 14th of May at 7 at night, and gave her
some supper she told me something that made me get up and put on my
clothes, and go with her, and I heard the cry of murder. Knew deceased's
voice. Heard the strokes Was distant a few yards. Heard the cries re-
peated, and the blows continued. I went to the door. The blows were very
heavy, like the blows of a hammer. When witness wa at the front, she heaid
deceased say to Mair, ' Let me lie, and die in peace, and don't strike me any
more' Saw her next morning about seven Panel opened the door and said
deceased had been fighting with the bed doors all night, and breaking them.
Witness spoke mildly to him, as she was a'raid, and asked him what ailed
him at her. Panel said he had got no sleep with her smashing them. Said
he was going down to the manse with the key, and to tell the minister to
make a snuff-box of his wife. Witness had taken some tea for her, and went
to bed and did not see her, and asked him what he had done with her, as she
was not there. Panel swore at her and said ' where could she be?' Witness
looked again, and she was crouched up at the foot of the bed. She had a
cap on, and an old piece of cotton cloth about her shoulders. The front of
her shilt was all blood. Her arms were bare, Saw a deal of blood about the
bed . When I offered her the tea, she was not able to list her right hand but
could move the other. She took some of it and pointed to Allan, and said it
was him that did that, meaning the bruises she had got, and I sent for a po-.
lice officer and got the pannel into custody. Deceased was alive at the time,
but 1 thought she died of the wounds received.

It appears that he had entertained the idea of self-destruction, by abstaining
from food, which he actually did for four or five days after the passing of his
sentence, but the cravings of nature became too much to withstand, and he
afterwards partook of his victuals freely.

He was in hopes of a mitigation of his sentence, till Thursday morning last,
when an answer to his memorial was received from the .Secretary of State,
stating that no hopes of mercy might be expected; Mair, on hearing this,
said, ' Weel, I maun submit.'

He was assisted in his spiritual concerns by the Rev. Mr Stark, chaplain
of the Jail, the Rev. Messrs Gilfillan, Leitch, Watson, and Harper, and rea-
dily entered into conversation with them, and exhibited cansiderable acquain-
tance with the truths of the Gospel,and sometimes manifested bursts of feel-
ing of a very strong nature, more resembling those of youth than of hoary
age hardened into searedness.                                                            

About eight o'clock the magistrates entered the Court Hall, and the pri.
soner soon after, supported by two individuals,and attended by the foregoing
elergymen, who assisted him at his devotions, which being finished, he shortly
afterwards ascended the scaffold, and almost immediately thereafter the signal
Was given—the drop fell—and after a few convulsive struggles, the world
closed upon the wretched man for ever.

Muir, Printer, Glasgow.


This broadside continues: '. . . for the Murder of Mary Fletcher, aged 85, at Candie End, or Curshot, parish ot Muiravonside, who suffered at Stirling, this morning, Oct. 4, 1843, together with his behaviour in the Condemned Cell.' It was published by Muir of Glasgow, and most likely sold for one penny.

Competition was tough amongst the numerous broadside printers in existence, and time was of the essence as each printer strived to be the first with the latest news. This was especially true in crime reporting, where the details of a particular case from the apprehension of the perpetrator to their last words on the gallows were carefully followed. As can be seen here, however, accuracy often suffered: within the first two paragraphs of this report Allan Mair's age is recorded as 80, 84 and 85.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.