Date Of Execution: 24 Oct 1830
Execution Place: unknown
Confession and Execution
Who was Executed at Inverness on
the 24th of October, for the atrocious
MURDER of MURDO GRANT,
Pedlar, from Lochbroom.
No language can convey an idea of the awful state of the unfortunate criminal on
being removed to his cell. He tossed himself about in a manner which indicated the
poignancy of his feelings, and the secret workings of his heart. About an hour after
he had been sentenced to die, the Rev. Mr. Clark visited him, and the conversation
which ensued effected a great change in the unfortunate man. He eagerly enquired
whether it were yet possible to save his life, and on being answered in the negative,
he made a full confession of his guilt to Mr. Clark. The following is the substance of
the account he gives of the murder, which he said was perpetrated on Friday, the 19th
March, 1830, at a considerable distance from the place mentioned in the indictment.
He states that he was driven to the commission of the murder by pecuniary wants;
that he prowled all day on the 18th of March, firmly determined to commit murder
and robbery that he saw the pedlar, conceiving that he had money, Macleod said to
him that be would purchase his whole pack if he met him on the following day near
Loch-tor-na-egin ; that they accordingly met, Macleod having a hammer concealed
under his great coat;ILL After travelling a considerable distance, they came near
Loch-tor-na-egin, when Macleod, walked before the pedlar. The former looked
frequently round, which indnced the packman to ask, " What do you mean Hugh ?"
and instantly on this Macleod turned, and struck him a violent blow with the hammer
below the ear, which felled him to the ground. Macleod gave several other blows to
insure his death, and he could not conceive how so few wounds were observed on his
body. He said there was no quarrel, or attempt made to pick a quarrel with the
pedlar. " I without a moments notice drove the innocent man to eternity," was his
answer, emphatically given. when the question was asked. He described the horrible
and fiendish sensations with which he rifled his victim's pockets, out of which he took
a five pound, and two one pound notes, with a bag of silver and copper. He then
dragged the body by the feet into the loch—the murder having been committed
within a few yards of it—but his utmost exertions could not for some time sink the
corpse. He was, he said, trembling with fear that he might be seen; but in his own
Words,he " got strong—-very strong," and lifted a large stone, which, after much
exertion, he placed above the body. He then left the loch, and examined the pack
and the cash at a little distance from it. He took the cash with him, and concealed
the pack in a cairn of stones.
After this he proceeded home, but slept none during night. A boy was along with
him in bed who snored very high, and this kept the dying agonies of the murdered
pedlar continually in his recollection. It was some days subsequent that he returned
to where the pack lay, and took stockings and a few other articles away. He most
solemnly asserts that he had no accomplice, and that the " dreamer" was as ignorant
of the murder as the child unborn. He added, that no person in Court was more as-
tonished at Fraser's evidence than he was, as he never placed or knew that the silk
handkerchiefs were in the spot where the officers found them.
The unfortunate man's behaviour in prison after the awful sentence was pronounced,
indicated great signs of penitence. He was visited by several clergymen, who were
continualiy imparting religious instructions to him. He was brought from his-cell' at
two o'clock, supported by the Rev. Messrs. Clark and Kennedy. When they arrived
at the place of execution, Macleod ascended the scaffold with a firm step, and having
ejaculated a short prayer, a psalm was sung, and the Rev. Messrs. Clark and Kennedy
prayed, he addressed the multitude in Gaelic as follows :—
My Friends,—It is not my intention to occupy much time in speaking. I beg you
will excuse me for addressing you in Gaelic, when I say that I am not so well acquaint-
ed with the English language. Here you behold me as one speaking to you from the
dead—it is true, I am dead to you—-you have Moses and the Prophets, hear them ;
if you hear them not, you will not hear them should one rise from the dead.
I was born of honest and God-fearing parents, whose counsel I cast behind me, and
now appear before you to undergo the Last sentence of the law. I acknowledge the
crime most justly laid to my charge.—I avow in the presence of the all-seeing God,
before whom I will ere long appear. that I and I alone have been the perpetrator of
this awful crime of murder for which 1 am about to suffer. But I thank my God that
this his precept has been so strictly obeyed ; but I am, according to the laws of God
and my country, which I have so grossly offended, thus to die the death. After ad-
monishing the people who assembled on the occasion, (about 7000,) he ascended the
steps. and alter si nging a few lines of the 51st Psalm, he said—" My God, receive my
soul,"—he then dropped the handkerchief, and was, without a struggle, launched into
His body, after hanging three quarters of an hour, was cut down, placed in a coffin,
and taken to the jail—it was then crammed into a square box, and a couple of pecks
of salt thrown over it. and sent in a cart to Edinburgh, as neither carrier, coach, nor
ship, could be got to take if.
Aberdeen : R, Cobban & Co.
This account of a murderer's confession and execution begins: 'Confession and Execution of HUGH MACLEOD, Who was Executed at Inverness, on the 24th of October, for the atrocious MURDER of MURDO GRANT, Pedlar, from Locbroom.' It was published by R. Cobban & Co. Aberdeen, in 1830.
Despite the brevity of many broadsides, they often reflect a great deal about the society in which they were produced. Note here for example, that although the broadside is written in English, the murderer addresses the crowd at his execution in Gaelic. In 1830 the Highlands were predominantly Gaelic-speaking. Broadsides would not have been written in Gaelic, however, as the language was rarely written and very few were able to read or write it. The translation of Hugh Macleod's last words suggest that author of this broadsheet, as well as being literate in English, is likely to have been bilingual in English and Gaelic.
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.