British Executions

James Gow

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 2 Dec 1831

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



An excellent Form of a PRAYER, said to have been
aften used by the unfortunate JAMES Gow, Shoe-
maker, who was Executed yesterday, Friday the
2d of December 1831, for the Murder of his, Wife,
and whose Body was delivered to Dr. Munro for
dissection, since his condemnation.

James Gow, shoemaker, who was executed yester, with his fel-
low sufferer, Thomas Beveridge, blacksmith, both for the same
crime, namely, that of killing their wives, was very penitent, and
acknowledged the justness of his sentence, not only at his trial, but
on the scaffold, before the officiating magistrates. The following
prayer being often repeated, and his last words on this earth were,
" Lord have mercy on our souls ; Lord, receive our souls."

O LORD, Almighty God of our Fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, and of their righteous seed, who hast made heaven
and earth, with all the ornament thereof; who hast bound the sea
by the word of the commandment; who hast shut up the deep, and
sealed it by thy terrible and glorious name; whom all men fear
and tremble before thy power; for the majesty of thy glory cannot
be borne, and thine angry threatening towards sinners is importa-
ble ; but thy merciful promise is unmeasurable and nnsearch.
able; for thou art the most high Lord, of great compassion, long,
suffering, very merciful, and repented of the evils of men. Thou
O Lord, according to thy great goodness, has promised repentance,
and for giveness to them that have sinned against thee; and of
thine infinite mercies hast appointed repentance unto sinners, that
they may be saved.    Thou therefore, O Lord, that art the God of
the just, hast not appointed repentance to the just, as to Abraham,
and Isaac, and Jacob, which have not sinned against thee; but thou
hast appointed repentance unto me that am a sinner ; for I have
sinned above the number of the sands of the sea.    My transgres-
sions, O Lord, are multiplied; my transgressions are multiplied,
and I am not worthy to behold and see the height of heaven for the
multitude of mine iniqueties.    I am bowed down with many iron
bands, that I cannot life up mine head, neither have any release ; for

I have provoked thy wrath, and done evil before thee; I did not thy
will, neither kept I thy commandments : I have set up abominations,
and have multiplied offences.    Now therefore I bow the knee of
mine heart, beseeching thee of grace.    I have sinned, O Lord, I
have sinned, and I acknowledge mine iniquities : wherefore, I hum-
bly beseech thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me, and destroy me
not with mine iniquties.   Be not angry with me forever, by reserv-
ing evil for me; neither condemn me into the lower parts of the
earth.    For thou art the God, even the God of them that repent:
and in me thou wilt shew all thy goodness, for thou wilt save me
that am unworthy, according to thy great mercy.    Therefore I will
praise thee for ever all the days of my live: for all the powers of
the heavens do praise thee, and thine is the glory for ever and ever.


This broadside begins: 'An excellent form of a PRAYER, said to have been aften used by the unfortunate James Gow, shoemaker, who was Executed yesterday, Friday the 2d of December 1831, for the Murder of his Wife, and whose Body was delivered to Dr. Munro for dissection, since his condemnation.'

Whilst James Gow headlines this broadside, the simultaneous execution of Robert Beveridge for a similar crime is also briefly cited. The main body of the broadside, however, contains Gow's repentful last words, said in the form of a prayer. The reader is also treated to Gow's final utterances 'on this earth', 'Lord have mercy on our souls; Lord, receive our souls'. Whether these were in fact Gow's last words is another matter. Last speeches were often reused by printers, with only the appropriate details, such as name and nature of crime, changed.

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.