British Executions

John McGraddy

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 26 May 1826

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


A Full and Particular Account of the Execution of
JOHN M'GRADDY, who was Executed at Stir-
ling, on Friday the 26th May, 1826, containing the
particulars of his Trial, and his behaviour since the
time he received sentence of death, and at the place
of Execution.

STIRLING, 26th May, 1826. This day the unfortunate man
underwent the last mandate of the law in front of our prison
here, for housebreaking and theft, in the house of the Rev. Mr
M'Call, of Muiravonside.

The first witness the Rev. William M'Call, stated that his house
was broken into, upon the llth December last, about 1 o'clock in
the morning, when he heard a noise come from the north part of
the house, he started up, but thought it was occasioned by the ser-
vants working, he came to the stair head, where he saw a light be-
low, and in a few minutes two men rushed up stairs, one of them
had on something like a. spanish cloak, and held it up so as to con-
ceal his face, one of them was armed with a pistol, and the other
with a sword; the one with the pistol said, If you do not give up
your money I will shoot you ; they then forced him back to the
bed-room, and went directly to a chest of drawers, and ransacked
them, they carried off a sum of money which had been collected for
the deaf and dumb institution in Edinburgh ; saw them carry away
a gold watch which hung beside the window.—saw them take from
a press some silver teaspoons, when they were at the press, witness
stood in the passage opposite the front door, and took the oppor-
tunity of opening the door and making his escape to the house of
Mr Read, a farmer in the neighbourhood, here he got assistance, but
on returning the fellows were gone. He said there was a great
number of shirts and stockings taken away, here a pair of stockings
were shown him which he indentified as his property, on being
asked if the two prisioners at the bar were the men, he said they
were about the size of the men that were in the house ; but could
not swear to them, as he did not see their faces.

Janet Roberts, and Elizebeth Taylor, corroborated the evidence
of the proceeding witness.

Edward Quin, boatman to the Union Canal, stated that he saw
M'Graddy shortly after the robbery, when he told him, that the
manse had been broken into and that he, M'Graddy, was one of
the persons engaged in it, he saw the officers find a pair of stockings
among the coals; saw M'Graddy wear a pair like them, and that he
had them on just before the officers came up.

Andrew M'Kay, stated that lie was one of them that apprehended
M'Graddy, that he found the pair of stockings shown in court among
the coals, near where M'Graddy was lying, who had no stockings
on, and the weather was remarkably cold at the time.

Several other witnesses were examined, after which the Advocate-
depute addressed the Jury for the Crown, and Mr Bruce for M'-
Graddy. Lord M'Kenzie then summed up the evidence, at consi-
derable length, when the Jury, after deliberating a few minutes, re-
turned a verdict of Guilty. After an impressive address, he was
sentenced to be executed at Stirling, on Friday the 26th May 1826,
upon hearing which, he was so much affected that the officers had
to carry him away from the bar.

Since his condemnation, we understand, he has behaved himself
with great propriety, and becoming his melancholy situation ; he
was attended by the ministers of the Town, who did all in their
power to compose his mind, and to make him lay hold on the hope
set before him in the gospel, to whom he paid great attention.

Accordingly, this day at two oclock, the Magistrates, attended by
their officers, entered the Town-hall, where some of the clergy and
others were in attendance on the prisoner. After spending some
short time in devotional exercise, they proceeded to the scaffold,
where prayers were again put up for the unhappy man. He then
affectionately took leave of those around him, shaking hands with
the officers respectively. He left the jail with great reluctance, and
when the executioner appeared with a white cotton cap, he would
not permit him to put it on, but put on a striped Kilmarnock one,
which he pulled out of his own pocket. After considerable hesita-
tion, and after every thing was prepared, he dropt the fatal signal,
and was launched into eternity, in presence of a great multitude of
spectators. We trust this awful example will have its due effect on
all those who witnessed it.

He was a native of Ireland, and a well-looking young man, about
21 or 22 years of age, and nearly 6 feet high; we cannot learn that
he had any trade, but was generally employed as a labourer ; and
at the time he committed the robbery, he was plying with a coal-
boat on the Union Canal.


This account begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Execution of JOHN M'GRADDY, who was Executed at Stirling, on Friday the 26th May, 1826, containing the particulars of his Trial, and his behaviour since the time he received sentence of death, and at the place of Execution.'

John McGraddy was executed for breaking into the house of the Reverend Mr McCall of Muiravonside and stealing a number of items. This included a sum of money which, to make the crime all the more shocking, had been collected for the deaf and dumb institution of Edinburgh. An accomplice is mentioned, but his identity is not disclosed. As illustrated here, emphasis was often placed on a criminal's remorse over his or her misconduct and the valuable moral lesson it afforded the reader. Despite this, most people simply appreciated the reports for their entertainment value and their shock factor.

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.