Date Of Execution: 2 Jun 1823
Execution Place: unknown
Account of the Behaviour since his condemnation, and on the
Scaffold, of JOHN M'CREEVIE, who was Executed at
Glasgow, on Wednesday the 2d of June, 1824, for House-
breaking and Theft at Springvale, with a solemn warning
to his companions, and those who, like him, are running a
course, which leads to an awful death.
Glasgow, 2d June, l824.—This day,John M'Creevie, who was respited 14 days,
underwent the awful sentence of the law, for the crime of House breaking and
Theft, a few months ago, in the house of Mr Shephard, Springvale; the prisoner
entered the house in the middle of the night while the family were at rest, and
aggravated the case, by threatening them with personal violence if they offered to
resist and protect their own property, which he actually put in force, by striking
Mr Shepherd with an iron bar, which greatly injured his arm, to the terror of his
family, and of all who wish to sit peaceably under their own vine and fig tree ; he
likewise carried off a quantity of articles, and for all of which he was found Guilty.
Since the time of sentence he has, behaved himself in a very becoming and com-
posed manner; reading frequently ; hearing instuctions attentively; weighing his
past days and crimes seriously, and looking forward to his future prospects with a
hope, that after his sufferings are over here, he will through the merits of his
Saviour, be a candidate for enjoying true felicity hereafter. When the respite of
14 days was announced to him, (in order to investigate some reports which had been
spread concerning his case, and which proved without foundation), no doubt hope
Cast a glimmering ray into his sorrowful heart, and animated him with the thought
that he would escape the ignominy of a public execution ; but how delusive are
the most sanguine hopes which even the best of men entertain ; they are blasted
in a moment, and are succeeded by the most horrid views the imagination can
conceive.What were the feelings of this unfortunate man, on receiving the secon'd
summons to prepare for death, baffles description ; a man at the highest pinnacle
of hope, thrown down to the lowest depth of despair ; we would consider It enough
to alter the mind of many a rational being in regard to his worldly affairs, and what
must have been its effect upon the man who this day suffered, we leave humanity
to judge. The contest was severe, but he supported himself for the few rem aining
days, with uncommon fortitude and perfect resignation. Several Ministers of the
city attended him during his confinement,and aided him in his devotional exercises,
and,gave him every comfort which lay in their power; to them, and to the super-
intendents of the prison, he expressed his warmest gratitude, for the kind treament
he had received from them.
About two o'clock he entered the Hall, where the Magistrates,.and Ministers
were in attendance; they then proceeded.to the last solemnities of praying for him,
reading portions of scripture for his comfort at that trying hour, and singing praises
to Him, who alone could unsting Death of his terrors, and lead him in safety thro'
the dark valley and shadow of death. He then proceeded to the fatal drop, in a
very composed manner, and decently attired, and after spending. a few minutes in
servent prayer on the confines of eternity, he gave the signal, and after a few con-
yulsive throws, his connexion with this world ceased.
He was about 30 years of age, and has left a wife and two children. He was
born in the north of the city, where he wrought at various, employments ; some
time as a weaver ; at another, at the Monkland Basin, and in the boats which ply
with coals and lime on the Monkland Canal; 'he was also a short time in the army.
The case here narrated, ought to be viewed by the idle and profligate with due
attention; they should keep continually in mind that the next example may be
some of themselves, if they continue their present course of iniquity and crime.—
We must here observe, that a most numerous class of young and old are now often
deprived of gaining an honest livelihood by selling various commodities upon the
streets ; the young cannot get trades ; the aged are unfit Tor employment ; and
the blind cannot see, nor the lame walk; upon their industry, several thousands
depend for support, when we include their children. Deprived of the means of
gaining subsistence, what are we to expect, but that they and their children must
Steal ,to prevent starvation ; and were it fairly considered, we doubt not, but every
person would be allowed to gain an honest livelihood; were this the case, it would
prevent a number of crimes. W. Carse, Printer.
This report begins: 'Account of the Behaviour since his condemnation, and on the scaffold of John M'Creevie, who was Executed at Glasgow, on Wednesday the 2d of June, 1823, for Housebreaking and Theft at Springvale, with a solemn warning to his companions, and those who, like him, are running a course which leads to an awful death.' The sheet was published by William Carse of Glasgow, who is listed as working from various addresses in Glasgow between 1820 and 1836.
This broadside tells of a man named John McCreevie, who was executed for housebreaking and theft in the village of Springvale, which is now part of the Glasgow conurbation. Although, from a modern viewpoint, the sentence appears to be harsh one, the 'Criminal Code' (called the 'Bloody Code' in England) that existed from 1650 to 1840 was primarily designed to protect property. On many occasions, however, the death sentence was commuted to one of transportation for less serious crimes. Revealingly and unusually, the final paragraph contains an emotional passage regarding why there is so much crime, and controversially concludes that unemployment and poverty is to blame.
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.