British Executions

Alexander Cain

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: highway robbery

Date Of Execution: 21 Feb 1812

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


An account of the Trial of Alexander Cain, alias O'Kane, before the High Court of Jus-

ticiary, Edinburgh, for wounding severely on the bead, and other parts of the body,   Archi
bald Stewart, Cattle-dealer, while in Stirling, and robbing him of One Thousand and Ten
Pounds ster.—who was found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged, at Stirling, on Friday
the 21 st of February, 1812.

ON Monday the 13th of January, 1812, came
on, before the High Court of Justiciary, E-
dinburgh, the trial of Alexander Cain, alias O'Kane,
accused of having, on the evening of the 11th of
October, {the day on which Anderson and Menzics
were executed at Stirling, for robbery) with one or
more persons, attacked, in the town of Stirling,
Archibald Stewart, cattle-dealer in Dalspidle, who
had just arrived from Falkirk Tryst, where he had
received a sum of money; and of having struck and
wounded him severely on the head and other parts
of the body, to the effusion of his blood, and loss of
his senses for the time, and of robbing him of one
thousand and ten pounds sterling, chiefly in notes
of the Falkirk Bank Company.

The Jury being sworn in, the witnesses for the
Crown were then examined.

Sir.Thomas Kirkpatrick, Bart. Sheriff-Depute of
the shire of Dumfries, swore, that the notes of the
Falkirk Banking Company, exhibited, were taken
from the person of the prisoner, in a small public-
house in the town of Dumfries; some of them were
concealed near the waistband of his breeches; and
also, two twenty-pound notes,which he endeavour-
ed to conceal in his hand, while they were search-
ing him; and several others were found concealed
in the chimney of the room where he was.

Archibald Stewart, cattle-dealer, Dalspidle, not
being able accurately to understand the English lan-
guage, Mr. M'Intyre, a gentleman accidentally in
Court, who understood Gaelic, being sworn, acted
as interpreter:—Received L.9oo from Duncan Ca-
meron, in October last, L.770 in Mrs. M 'Kenzie's
tent, and L.7O in M'Nab's house in Larbert, all in
Falkirk twenty-pound notes and five-pound notes;
tied them up all together; he received, besides, two
drafts from Duncan Cameron, for L.200 each, and
a missive letter for another L.200; he left Larbert,
and arrived in Stirling about Dusk, but could not
say exactly about what hour; he put up at Henry
Abercrombie's, St. Mary's Wynd; dined there, and
afterwards went out by himself to see his horse sort-
ed; his money was in his waistcoat inside pocket,
and the drafts, &c. wrapped up in leather in his
coat pocket. Some other cattle-dealers were also
at Abercrombie's, and they having gone to the bank
to transact some business, after he had looked at his
horse he went to see and meet them; but not having
met them, he went into a house and had a dram; a
woman was in company; she merely tasted with
him, they had no conversation. On his return,
while at an entry at the end of Abercrombie's house,
saw two or three men coming towards him; re-
ceived a severe blow on the crown of the head,
which stunned him; recollects the men taking the
money from him; one had his hand on his mouth,
another a hand on his neck, while the third said
"lay to him;" he thought he felt the man's hand
tremble while taking the money; does not recollect
the appearance of the men, it being dark, and he
stupisied by the blows, but thinks one of them was
a tall man. It was a considerable time before he
could find Abercrombie's honse; he went in, much
cut and bruised; got a Surgeon, and was consined
some days. Same night his leather parcel, con-
taining the drafts, was found by the Crieff post-boy,
and the following day he received it from Mr. Aber-
crombie; had been tasting during the day, but was

not intoxicated; it was the day two men were ex-
ecuted for theft at Stirling.

Some witnesses proved Stewart's getting, at the
Falkirk Market, on the 11th, the notes which were
afterwards found in the prisoner's posession.

Several witnesses were examined, who proved
that they saw the prisoner lurking about Stirling
the day the robbery was committed-that they saw
201. notes in his custody, and endeavoured to have
him seized, when he made his escape, and took the
road towards Dumfries.

Daniel Freer, cowfeeder at Lochrin, deponed,
that he met the prisoner on a Sunday in Oct. as he
was going to church in the afternoon, who asked
the way to Dumfries; said he would point it out if
he would come with him, as he was going to the
church; prisoner told him he had been in bad com-
pany, and had slept with a girl the night before,
who had robbed him of 449 guineas,, observing,
" You will perhaps think that a great sum for a man
like me to have, but I have a great deal more;" and
on this pulled out a large bundle of notes from his
breeches, and counted 700l. of large notes of the
Falkirk Bank. Witness, not liking his company,
after drinking share of a gill, left him.

Samuel Gibson, serjeant of the police guard,
Dumfries. He apprehended the prisoner. Prison-
er said, if he would call on him next day he wished
to see him by himself; he did so, when the prisoner
said he wished he had given him 100 guineas the day
he took him to have let him make his escape; that
if there was no other person with him, he was cer-
tain, from his kindness to him, he would. Witness
replied, he might or he might not in that case, but
that now it was impossible, as there was another
man behind him. Prisoner said—" I think I could
trust you with a secret; if you would keep it, it
would make you up for life, and save me." Asked
witness if he would swear on a book, as was the
manner in his country; witness went out and told
this conversation to the jailer, who advised him to
do nothing against his conscience; on which he re-
turned and told the prisoner that it was not the cus-
tom to give books to two together in jail, but only
to allow one to a prisoner alone, to amuse himself.
He said, it was no matter, if witness would hold ,
up-his hand and swear, he might have L.400, all in
L.5O notes, in half an hour; that there was no
danger, as he might keep the money till the noise
was over, and then pass the notes one by one.--
Asked him, if it was part of the money robbed from
the man at Stirling; on which he put his hand on
witness's breast, and. said, " Don't—don't ask that
question; you shall have an equal share, which will
come at L.140" Witness answered—he would try
to convey the money to him, But would take no
share. He immediately went to Provest Staig, and
informed him of what had passed. Sir T. Kirk-
patrick was in consequence sent for, and the prison-
er's room fearched, when a parcel, containing a-
bout L.340 in Falkirk L.5 bank notes, was found
concealed in the chimney. Saw the prisoner search-
ed, when the pocket-book and L.20 Falkirk bank-
notes were taken from him.

The evidence being finished, the sury were inclosed about half

pasT eleven night,and next day returned their verdict,all in one   

voice finding the prisoner Guilty. After a suitable admonition
from the Lord Justice Clerk, he was sentenced to be hanged at
Stirling, os Friday the 21st Feb, next. [T, Duncan, Printer.


This execution notice begins: 'An account of the Trial of Alexander Cain, alias O'Kane before the High Court of the Justiciary, Edinburgh, for wounding severely on the head, and other parts of the body, Archibald Stewart, Cattle-dealer, while in Stirling, and robbing him of One Thousand and Ten Pounds ster. -who was found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged, at Stirling, on Friday the 21st of February, 1812.' This sheet was published in Glasgow by Thomas Duncan.

This broadside covers one aspect of a case which had its focal point in Stirling. The same day as Cain was tried for his part in a theft committed in Stirling, his two colleagues were hung also in Stirling, having been captured and sentenced previously. There are other broadsides in the National Library of Scotland's collection which detail the whole case. Although the English is a little difficult to follow, it transpires that Cain was caught because he could not resist showing his money off, and was then to be hung in Stirling, the scene of the crime.

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.