British Executions

Charles MEwan

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 7 Apr 1824

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: Alexander Turnbull


An account of the Execution of Charles
M'Ewan at Edinburgh, on Wednesday
the 7th April, for the Murder of Mar.
garet Money, on the Firmonth Hill,
in Aberdeenshire, with his behaviour
in Jail, and at the place of Execution.

Edinburgh, Wednesday, 7th April, 1824.

This morning, pursuant to his sentence, Charles M'Ewan under-
went the last awful sentence of the law, for the inhuman murder
of Margaret Money, with whom he had cohabited as' her husband.

During his trial he seemed quite unaffected, and after being
taken to his cell he was quite sullen. A number of Pious Gen-
tlemen visited him, with the humane intention of endeavouring
to awaken him to a sense of his awful situation. Instead of re-
ceiving them with pleasure, he treated them in the coldest man-
ner, and told them that if he had done the deed it was a matter
of his own and none of theirs. The unhappy man continued in
this state till within a few days back, when he beg-in entertain
feelings better suited to his situation. Lately he had been daly
visited by three Catholic Clergymen with whom much of his
time was cousumed; and to their exhortations must be ascribed
the change in his behaviour He had become more tranquil and
social ; but continued to discover a lamentable ins-nsibility to the
fate which awaited him. When in a talkative mood, he spoke
boastingly of his athletic exploits in the Highlands; and was fe-
miliar with the names of all the English pugilists. He expressed
great anxiety concerning the late of the impending battle betwixt
Spring and Langan ; and a few days ago, after having been shaved
he invited the barber to spar with him, which of course was de-
clined. Once a week he was visited by a near relation residing
in Leith, who had attemped in vain to engage him in some suit-
able conversation. Every attention had been paid to his comfort,
but he seemed to draw his clief temporal solace from a tobacco
pipe, which he was almost continually smoking.

On Tuesday afternoon, at half-past five, the unfortunate man
wat conveyed from the Calton Jail to the Lock-up-house, prepar-
atory to the execution of his sentence. Before leaving this place
of confinement, he was visited by some friends, one of whom, who
has shown him great attention, was with him again this morning

The Scaffold was e'rected, as usual, during the night, and in the
morning a great concourse of people surrounded the fatal spot.

About 10 minutes past eight the prisoner walked with a firm
step to the stage of death, accompanied by the magistrates. and
clergymen of the persuasion to which he adhered. Here he ac-
quiesced in the justness of his sentence, and hoped his fate would
be a Warning to others. The devotional exercises being over, the
drop fell, and the lamp of life was for ever extinguished. His
body was delivered to Dr Monro for dissection.

The unhappy man was a native of Ireland, and his real name
was M'Eoch, but he took the names of Robert M'Leod. John
M'Intyre, Charlos M'Intosh, Charles M'Kay, and Charles M'Ewan
according as circumstances suited, but he was best known by the
latter. He and a number of his relations left Ireland about ten
years back, and travelled in Scotland as tinklers. He pitched upon
the north of Scotland as the best country to carry on his trade.
In the shires of Aberdeen, Inverness, &c. he was soon well known
and to many that lived in remote places, having heard of during
deeds committed by him, his appearance in their cottage would
throw a dampness over them. He was the terror of all the vagrant
travellers in that quarter, and it is said he would help himself at
pleasure to part of their goods if they were at a distance from the
hands of justice. This and his readiness in giving battle to any
that opposed him got him the appelation of " the Cock of the
North." He has lived with various women as man and wife ;
the one he lived longest with, has 3 children. The unfottunate
woman whom he murdered had at that time been only 3 or 4 days
co-habiting with him at that time. After committing the bloody
deed, he became restless, which was observed in the various
houses he sleeped in afterwards.


This account begins: 'An account of the Execution of Charles M'Ewan at Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 7th April, for the Murder of Margaret Money, on the Firmouth Hill, in Aberdeenshire, with his behaviour in Jail, and at the place of Execution.' Published in Edinburgh by the city's booksellers.

This broadside appears to have been hastily assembled, indeed it was published almost immediately after the events it recounts. The National Library of Scotland holds several reports relating to this case and this one has almost exactly copied the wording of previous accounts, but also includes some fresh text giving the most up to the minute information about the proceedings of McEwan's execution.

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.