British Executions

Dennis Doolan

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 10 Dec 1840

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



Dennis Doolan and Patrick Redding were ex-
ecuted yesterday morning at Crosshill, about three
miles north of Glasgow, in pursuance of the sen-
tence of the Justiciary Circuit Court held there
upon the 22d ultimo, for the murder of John
Green, ganger upon the Edinburgh and Glasgow
Railway. The murder, which they have expiated
with their lives, was committed on the 10th of De-
cember, 1840.

Every precaution was taken by the authorities to
awe down any attempt which might be made to
break the peace, either on the line of road, or at the
place of execution, and accordingly, in addition to
the infantry guard, which escorted the gallows, and
remained over night, two pieces of artillery were also
sent out, and planted in commanding situations near
the spot.

At eight o'clock on Friday morning, the proces-
sion moved from Glasgow prison in the following
order :—

Cavalry,Infantry,and Police

City Marshal                  
The Executioner.         
Lord Provost.               

Cavalry,Infantry and Police                     

The culprits were placed, loosely pinioned, in a
large open carriage, accompanied by their religious
instructors, Bishop Murdoch and one of his clergy.
Thoir seats were considerably elevated, so that they
could be seen by almost every one of the dense mul-
titude who accompanied them to the place of execu-
tion. In this manner the procession moved up the
Saltmarket, the High Street, and out the Kirkintil
loch road, to Bishopbridge, where, as we have stated,
a gusrd of infantry, with Mr Sheriff Bell, were al-
ready present. The number of the military escort
was estimated at about 600 or 700 infantry, and
about 200 cavalry. Two troops, we underitand, of
the 4th dragoon guards, from Piershill barracks
were ordered west for the occasion.

Arrived at the spot, the culprits descended from
the vehicle, and again accompanied by their con-
fessors, ascended the platform with a firm step. Af-
ter some time spent in religious devotion, the exe-
cutioner proceeded to do his duty. In adjusting
the rope, it was observed that this officer gave Red-
ding, who was a slender and small man, about 18
inches more of a drop than he did to Doolan, who
was a stout and heavy person.

After the clergyman had left the culprits, and all
Was ready, Doolan turned round to his companion
in crime to bid him farewell, and in doing so it was
observed that the knot on the noose of the rope
slipped from under his left ear to the back of his
neck, and the consequence was, that he struggled
severely for several seconds after the drop fell;
Redding seemed to die instantly.

After hanging the usual time, the bodies were
cut down, and being put in cossins, were placed on
the vehicle which had a short time previously car-
ried them out in life, and escorted in the same man-
ner back to Glasgow, where they were interred in
the evening within the precincts of the prison.

None of the Railway labourers were at their
work but few of them were to be seen, either at
the execution or on the line of procession, and we
are informed that many of them had resolved to
stop away, to show their contempt of the insult
which they conceived had been offered to them in
bringing the execution to Crosshill.

Menzies, Printer.


This execution notice begins: 'Dennis Doolan and Patrick Redding were executed yesterday morning at Crosshill, about three miles north of Glasgow, in pursuance of the sentence of the Justiciary Circuit Court'. This sheet was published by Menzies.

There are other reports of this case held in the National Library of Scotland's collection, which suggests that the case was of some public interest at the time. Very little information about the crime is given here, although it is known from other sheets that the subjects were convicted of murdering the railwayman John Green, was working on the building of the Edinburgh to Glasgow railway. This narrative mainly relates the particulars of their hanging, which was attended by a crowd of 50,000 people.

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.