British Executions

William Divan

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 21 Jul 1824

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



Account of the Execution and Behavior on the Scaffold and      
since his Sentence, of WILLM. DIVAN, who suffered
at Glasgow on Wednesday the 21st July 1824 , for the      
Murder of his own Wife, Mary Jamieson, in Paisley Loan,   
Gorbals, on the 6th day of April last by cutting her throat,   
and his body given for dissection.                                       

Glasgow, 21st July,1824 —This day the above unfortunate man forfeited his
life for the murder of Mary Jamieson, his wife, in Paisley Loan, Gorbals on the
6th day of April last .   The woman was found dead by two of her own children,
with her throat cut, when they came home to their dinner , who then gave the alarm,
and the police soon arrived and searched the house ,but found nothing missing,
so that plunder was not the object ; neither could it be from the ill will of any of
her neighbours,as she lived on the most friendly terms with them, and way loved
by all who knew her, for kindly diposition , and for the careful manner with
which she managed her domastic concerns , especially her children.   We belive,
(though the prisoner has all along denied the commision of the horrid deed) that
he was really the guilty person . There is not an individual who read the tried,
but will be as fully convinced as the Judge and Jury of the fairness of the verdict            
which was pronounced against him, and on the issue of which being made known
to the prisoner , and after the Lord Justice clerk had addressed him in these
words ; ("his days were numbered ; he had cruelty bereft his wife of life , whom he
cught to have protected and cherished ; you stand this day at the bar another
awful example that " murder will net hide; '' he then baseeched him to lumble
himself before God , whose laws he had so most grievously offended- mercy he had
none ,and none he could expect on earth ,but may God have mercy   upon his
immortal soul ;)'' even after this solemn address, and all the advanteges of a fair
trial conducted by upright Judges and a respectable Jury ,who would undoubtedly
look to the side of mercy ,were the least doubt remaining of his guilt, the prisoner
on his bended knees , and in the presence of that God before whom he was soon to            
appear ,solemnly protests his innocence of the crime for which he is to suffer.-
Such an apeal as this ,made by a person on the brink of eternity , and knowing
himself to be actually guilty ,fills us with horror ,and makes usshudder at the idea                                 
of a man going to the just tribunal of God with a lie in his right hand.

Since his condemnation he has been assisted in his devotional exercises by two
of the Ministers of the Church of Rome, the Rev. Messrs. Scott and Murdoch of
Glasgow, who visited him frequintly, and paid every attention to his comfort and
edification.    He was also attended by them in his cell on the day of execution,
(the difference in the forms of worshipe rendering the usual solemnities in the Hats
unnecessary ), and from that to the scaffold, which he asceaded in a very becoming
manner, and after spending a few moments on the fatal drop in commussion with
his conscience and his God, he gave the signal, and after a few convulsive pangs
he was ushered into that state where the secrets of the heart are naked and open
to Him with whom he has to do -After being suspended for about 35 minutes,
his body was cut down , and convyed in a coffin, and under a military escort , to
Dr. Jeffray, proffesser of Anatomy in Glagow , to be publicly dissected. -He was
decently dressed, and was about 47 years of age -He originally belonged to the
country of Donegal, Ireland but has been in this country upwards of 30 years,
a number of which he has spent in the Gorbals of Glasgow, and resided at the time
of commiting the dead in Paisley Loan. He was some time a weaver, but latierly
sold fish along with his wife apon the streets. She also belonged to Ireland.   By
this horrid business, three children have been deprived of their parents, an awful
lesson to every person to beware of hasty passion, bad company, and every thing
that would in any, way , lead them from the paths of honest industry , or that would
tempt them to gratify their desires at the expense of the life of a fellow creature,
and especially, of any one whom they are bound by the most endearing ties to pro-
tect and watch over.—He was tried at Edinburgh, on the 14th June; was sent
back here on the 21st of the same, to undergo the sentence passed upon him, which         
was put in force this day, the 21st July, 1824.                                                                     
                                        W. Carse, Printer, Glasgow.


This report begins: 'Account of the Execution and Behaviour on the Scaffold and since his Sentence, of WILLM. DIVAN, who suffered at Glasgow on Wednesday the 21st of July, 1824, for the Murder of his own Wife, Mary Jamieson, in Paisley Loan, Gorbals, on the 6th day of April last, By cutting her throat, and his body given for dissection.' The sheet was published by William Carse of Glasgow in 1824.

This broadside tells the horrific tale of a husband who murdered his wife by cutting her throat, and whose body was discovered by her two children. The report starts off by describing the good character of the deceased woman, and also mentions that no property was taken from the house. In turn, this shifts suspicion on to the husband, a former weaver from Donegal in Ireland, who denied the crime. Pronouncing him guilty, the sentencing judge strongly advises him to make his peace with God before entering into the next world. The rest of the sheet describes his behaviour in the condemned cell and on the scaffold.

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.