Date Of Execution: 27 Aug 1824
Execution Place: unknown
An account of the Execution of ALEXANDER MILNE, who was
Hanged at Aberdeen on Friday the 27th August, for the
crimes of Stouthrief and Housebreaking. With the Speech
which he made to the Magistrates in prison, and the address
which he delivered to the numerous Spectators at the place
ABERDEEN, FRIDAY, AUG. 27, 1824.
THIS day ALEXANDER MARTIN, alias ALEXANDER MILNE, Was
Executed here, pursuant to sentence passed upon him by the High Court of
Justiciary, at Edinburgh on the 14th of July last. His crime was that of stouthrief
or masterly theft, as termed in law, i. e. overpowering or depriving by force a man
of his property.
This atrocious act was committed by him in the parish of Kemnay, in Aberdeen-
shire, upon an old man and his daughter, into whose house he had forcibly entered
under circumstances of aggravation. He manifested a great degree of firmness and
resignation to his fate, fully acknowledging the justice of his sentence.
At 15 minutes before three the unfortunate criminal entered the Court House,
genteelly dressed in mourning, and accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Thom, Dr. Kidd,
and the Rev. Mr. Penman. He then returned thanks to the Lord Provost and Ma-
gistrates for the humane attention he had experienced during his confinement, as
hid to the above clergymen, the Rev. Mr. Lyon, and others, by whom he had been
visited, for their pious labours in promoting his spiritual interest. He also request-
ed his thanks to be publicly mentioned to Mr. George Tureff, Mr. Alex Brown,
jailor, John Gray, under turnkey, and Mr. John Fyfe, messenger, &c. a part of the
42d paraphrase was then sung, when Dr. Kidd having delivered a suitable prayer,
the unfortunate man Addressed the Lord Provost on the unhappy causes which had
brought him to such ignominy; among which he emphatically stated the evils result,
ing from his confinement in Bridewell, which he represented as productive of effects
on the minds of the miserable culprits there confined, widely different from those
intended, and which had in his case added to his guilt, and consequently to the
weight of his punishment.
About ten minutes past three he appeared on the scaffold; part of the 23d psalm
was sung, when the Rev. Mr. Thom delivered a servent prayer in his behalf, after
which the unhappy criminal, in a diftinct and audibie voice, without faltering or
hesitation, addressed the populace at great length, enlarging particularly on the to-
pics which had greatly engaged his attention during his confinement, namely, the
evils attending Sabbath breaking and bad company, and the ruinous tendency of
these derelictions of duty to youth in particular: above all, exhorting parents to en-
force the sacred obligations of religion on their children, so as especially to avoid
these fatal errrors from which he had to date all his misfortunes.
Having ascended the drop, he, after a short time employed in earnest prayer, gave
the signal about twenty minutes before four o'clock, when he was launched into an
eternal world; but suffered to appcrance very much for a short time, his body being
After hanging the usual time, his body was cut down and delivered to his friends,
who had it soon after conveyed away in a temporary hearse for interment. He was
an athletic young man, seemingly 32 years of age.
A large body of special constables attended to preserve order, if necessary; but
the crowd, which was not very numerous, quietly dispersed, deeply impressed with
the awful scene they had witnessed.
John Muir, printer, Glasgow.
This execution report begins: 'An account of the Execution of ALEXANDER MILNE, who was Hanged at Aberdeen on Friday the 27th August, for the crimes of Stouthrief and Housebreaking. With the Speech which he made to the Magistrates in prison, and the address which he delivered to the numerous Spectators at the place of Execution.' 'Stouthrief' is a Scots law term meaning 'theft with violence (later only in a dwelling-house)'. The sheet was published in 1824 by John Muir of Glasgow.
This broadside reports the violent end of a young man called Alexander Milne, who was executed for housebreaking and using force on the houseowner during the robbery. After a brief summary of the crime, the author proceeds to describe the execution, paying great attention to the entourage of religious ministers that accompanied the condemned prisoner to the scaffold. Although, from a modern viewpoint, receiving the death sentence for housebreaking seems terribly harsh, it appears that Aberdeen was suffering numerous break-ins at this time, and had recently executed three men for a similar crime. Therefore, Milne had little hope of earning a reprieve.
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.