British Executions

Margaret Davidson

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 8 Oct 1830

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



A Full and Particular Account of the Life, Transactions, Con-
fessions, and Behaviour of MARGARET DAVIDSON, who was
Executed at Aberdeen, on Friday the 8th October 1830, for
the most atrocious and inhuman Murder of her Husband, by
pouring Poison down his throat while asleep, and her Body
afterwards given for Dissection.

ABERDEEN, 8th October 1830.....This day, Margaret Davidson, who was
found guilty at the last Circuit Court of Justiciary in this city, under-
went the last sentence of the law for the murder of her husband, by poison.

This unfortunate woman may be considered one of the most wicked that ever
disgraced a civilized country.    It appears she laid the plan, that plan which
brought her to this untimely fate, several years ago , although she had it not in
her power to do the deed, she was a woman of a savage nature, and deeply in-
volved with jealousy and revenge against her poor deluded husband; she had
often threatened for to take his life, although the poor man never thought that
she would have put her threats in execution.    She perpetrated this crime in the
most treacherous manner; while he was asleep, and his mouth open, she poured
down his throat the deadly draught, which held him in the utmost torture, till
death put an end to his sufferings.    It fills the breast with the greatest horror,
to think how deliberately she committed the crime ; and every person of feeling
shudders at the bare recital.    At her trial she plead Not Guilty, with the greatest
confidence that she would not be convicted, but God who saw all her transac-
tions, brought it to light.    The evidence clearly proved that she had murdered
her husband.    Shortly after she received the sentence of death, she began to re-
flect on her wickedness, and in presence of two Clergymen, she made the fol-
lowing confession :—" I am the persen that murdered my husband, by adminis-
tering vitriol, which occasioned his death; it was nothing but jealousy which
caused me to commit the crime ; I had it in my heart two years ago for to mur-
der him, but I always thought to get some other person to do it, in order that my
hands might not be stained with his blood.    My sentence is just, I deserve to
die for what I have done.    The temptations of the devil has been strong in
me when I committed such a crime.    I hope my fate will prove a warning to
every person, particularly women, not to follow my example, and deep from
jealously and revenge"

During her imprisonment she seemed for to be but little affected for what she
had done ; she was frequently waited on by different Ministers, who endea-
voured to bring her to a sense of her awful situation, their spiritual advices she
very thankfully acknowleged. She was visited by some of her relatives a few
days before her execution, and their parting scene was truly affecting. She
wrote the following letter to Mr F-----—n :—" I let you know that I am quite
resigned to my fate, and oh ! that you and all my acquaintance may take warn-
ing by me a wicked wretch, now a disgrace to my friends and relations; I have
been too late in taking a thought of myself; keep holy the Lord's day, and ne-
ver be led into any of the crimes which has proved my ruin ;—adieu, MAR-


At an early hour on Friday morning, the unfortunate culprit was waited on
by two Clergymen, who had brought her to reflect on her wicked state, and
to make preparations for another world ; after spending some time in prayer,
the Rev.Gentlemen left her, and returned shortly after.    In a few minutes past two
o'clock, the Magistrates,with their proper attendants, entered the Hall, and shortly
afterwards proceeded to the scaffold ; a most fervent prayer being offered up in
her behalf, and a Psalm being sung, she then replied to the Clergymen and all
present, that her sentence was just, and that she richly deserved the punishment,
after shaking hands with every one around her, she mounted the fatal Drop ;
she was seen praying very earnestly for some time ; she then dropt the signal and was launched into
Eternity amidst an immense multitude of spectators from various parts of the country ; her body, af-
ter hanging about half an hour was cut down and delivered over to the Surgeons for Dissection. On
this melancholy creature no one seemed to be sorry for her fate, but looked on at the awful spectacle
with indifference, and shewed no marks of compassion.

Printed by Robertson and Co.....Price One Penny.


This report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Life, Transactions, Confessions, and Behaviour of Margaret Davidson, who was Executed at Aberdeen, on Friday the 8th October 1830, for the most atrocious and inhuman Murder of her Husband, by pouring Poison down his throat while asleep, and her body afterwards given for Dissection.' This sheet was published by Robertson and Co.

With a chilling, Bruegel-like illustration of a gallows underneath the Murder headline, this broadside tells the woeful story of Margaret Davidson, who was executed for poisoning her husband while he slept. After demonising the woman for her evil crime, there is a change in tone as Davidson's confession appears in the narrative. Forgiveness from God, redemption and a warning to others are the main themes in such confessions from the prisoner in 'the condemned cell'. The broadside concludes with the execution and the body being whisked away to a medical school for dissection. This sheet is part of a series of broadsides on this particular subject, with the others available for viewing in the National Library of Scotland.

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.