British Executions

William Adams

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 6 Jan 1830

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



Second Edition.

A full and particular account of the Execution of WILLIAM
ADAMS, slater, who was this day, Wednesday the 6th January
1830, Executed at the head of Libberton Wynd, Lawnmarket,
for assaulting and robbing Michael Pirnie, mason, on the even_
ing of the 5th September last, of one pound, four shillings, and
eightpence, and a tin snuff-box ; with his Last Dying Speech on
the Scaffold.

EDINBURGH, 6th January 1830.—This tnfortunate young
man suffered the last penalty of the law, at the head of Lib-
erton Wynd, this day, for Asault and Robbery, on the 5th Sep-
tember last, pursuant to his sentence before the High Court of
Justicary, on the 30th of November last.

It will be recollecetd, that this young man was tried here on the
30th November last, for assaulting and robbing Michael Pirnie,
mason, on the 5th of September preceding, whom he met in the
Pleasance, and followed through various places to the Vennel in the
Cowgate, where he said he had a coat to sell at his grandmother's,
because he had enlisted. When going up the stair, he knocked
down Pirnie, and robbed him of a pound note, some silver, and a
snuff-box. The Jury, after a very few minutes consultation, un-
animously found the panel guilty, but recommended him to mercy,
on account of his youth, and on the supposition of his having a
wife and family.

The Lord Justice Clerk, in passing sentence, stated, that from
the way and manner the crime was commited, committed in the
very centre of the city, it was absolutely necessary for the public
safety that an example should be made. In such a case it would
have been impossible for the Lord Advocate to have interponed his
authority, and, therefore, his Lordship had acted properly in allow-
ing the consequence of the verdict to rest with is Majesty' s ad-
visers. His Lordship strongly cautioned the pannel against in-
dulging in the hope of a commutaion of his sentence, for seldom
or ever had the punishment for acts of robbery, when accompanied
by violence, been mitigated.

His Lordship then sentenced Adams to be executed at the
Head of Libberton Wynd, between the hoars of Eight and Ten,
forenoon, on Wednesday the 6th day of January next.

His conduct since his condemnation was very becoming his
awful situation, and he was constantly attended by the Reverend
Doctor Gordon, and the Reverend Mr Porteous, chaplain of the
Jail, who used every endeavour to direct his solicitations and pray-
ers to the throne of grace for mercy. He was likewise waited
upon by several other well-disposed persons and friends, to whose
kindly exhortations and supplications he seemed to pay great
deference and attention. From his being a native of Edinburgh a
considerable degree of interest was excited in his favour. He
usually lived with his grandmother, and was generally called by
her name—Reid.

Yesterday he was conveyed over to the Lock-up-House about

Seven o'clock, where he slept for a few hours very composedly.....

Early in the morning he arose, and was soon waited on by Dr
Gordon and Mr Porteous. A short time before eight Bailies An-
derson and Morton entered, when the prisoner's arms were pi-
nioned, and the whole then proceeded, in solemn procession, up
the Wynd to the Scaffold. After a psalm was again sung, and a
most impressive and earnest prayer offered up for him, he came
forward to the front of the Scaffold, and addressed the spectators in
the following words :....' I am a young man brought to an untimely
fate by my crimes. I trust all who witness my situation will take
take warning, and flee from those crimes which have proved
my ruin....that they will pray to God for their awn souls—read
the Bible, and keep the Sabbath....and may God be ever with you
alll'.... After which, he mounted the fatal drop, where he continued
praying for a few minutes. He then dropped the signal, and
was instantly launched into eterninty.

Price One Penny.


This account begins: 'A full and particular account of the Execution of William Adams, slater, who was this day, Wednesday the 6th January 1830, Executed at the head of Libberton Wynd, Lawnmarket, for assaulting and robbing Michael Pirnie, mason, on the evening of the 5th September last, of one pound, four shillings, and eightpence, and a tin snuff-box; with his last dying speech on the Scaffold.'

This particular broadside has been illustrated with a woodcut of three figures hanging from the gallows. The vast majority of broadside printers kept a limited selection of woodcuts, which were used time and time again. In many instances the illustration bore little or no relation to the subject of the broadside, and was merely included for decoration. It is possible the printer of this sheet did not possess a woodcut showing one man being hanged. An account of the trial and sentence of William Adams can also be found in the National Library of Scotland's collection.

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.