Date Of Execution: 7 Feb 1711
Execution Place: unknown
The laft Words and Declaration of Jannet Shank,
Who was Execute in the Grass mercat of E-
dinburgh, upon the 7 day of February, 1711
for. the Crime of
According to Sentence of Justice, her Right Hand was
cut off by the Conmon Hangman; and was drawn
up the Gibbet by a Pilly, and Hang till she was
Dead. Her Hand is to be set up at Dumfriece.
THis Woman being very Obstinate and hard Hearted, only
confesseth the following.
That she was guilty of Disobedence to her Parents, was
very well Educated by them, and that she was once a
Seeker of GOD, but soon fell from Him, and was taken up with
Idle C ompany, and was a Breaker of the LORDS Day.
That about the Latter end of April, while she was in the Laird of
Laggs Service, .one William Gordon Servant to the Laird of Laggs
Son lay with her, but she did not think she was got with Child, hav-
ing had no Simptons of a Conceprion, for the first Month; But
the next Month thereafter she found sure Grounds to Apprehend she
And in the Middle of June being in the Laird of Maxwaltons
Service; and one Day being Washing, got a Hurt upon the Breast,
with a Tub, which she was carrying, which Occasioned a Swelling
and Ulceration, which put her into a Fever, during which, she was so
Constipat, that she had no Passage in her Belly for seven Days,
whereupon her Lady Desired her Brother who is a Surgean, to give
her some proper Medecin for her Relief; and he having given her
Phisick several times, and Purged Excessively, which made her part
with that Conception about the latter end of July, which was but
three Months as she could Recoken her Conception, of which she was
not very certain, but positively Declines she had no Living Child;
and cannot tell if it was well Formed, neither did she know any
thing of she Dog of Bitches Eating of it.
She likewise when first imprisoned, Denyed her being Guilty of
Fornication, and that day she was Executed she Prayed earnestly she
might be forgiven the Sin of Denyal of Uncleanness; And Declared
her Sentence to be just, and did the fame upon the Scaffold, but ne-
ver Confessed the Murder.
And since her Sentence offered the Keepers Money to let her
Escape. but they told it to the Ministers, and they would have none
of her Money.
And she Prayed Earnestly upon the Scaffold, the Ministers tak-
ing very much Pains upon her: and they Prayed several times, and
Sung very long: and took her Round the Scaffold; And she earnestly
Desired all Spectators. to take Warning by her.
Edinburgh Printed by fohn Reidin Bells Wynd. 1711;
This execution notice begins: 'The last Words and Declaration of Jannet Shank, / Who was Execute in the Grass mercat of E- / dinburgh, upon the 7 day of February, 1711 / for the Crime of / Child-Murder. / According to Sentence of Justice, her Right Hand was cut off by the Common Hangman; and was drawn up the Gibbet by a Pilly, and Hang till she was Dead. Her Hand is to be set up at Dumfriece.'
There are many broadsides contained in the National Library of Scotland's collection recounting the execution of women for child-murder - indeed it is the crime predominantly committed by women sentenced to execution. The heinousness of the action lay in the taking of an innocent life rather than the murder itself. There are, however, very few cases where the woman's right-hand is focused on: this is quite an usual occurrence. Perhaps it is the hand with which Shank committed 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.