Date Of Execution: 20 Feb 1791
Execution Place: unknown
Executed for Robbery
A robbery committed by means of bird-lime
IN recording the execution of this culprit, a Scotch newspaper says "he was one of the most notorious villains that has figured in the line of roguery in this country for many years; and, though only twenty-eight years of age, his criminal exploits appear, both in variety and number, to equal, if not exceed, the achievements of the most dexterous and greyheaded offender."
As this fellow lived, so he determined to die -- with notoriety.
He was brought to the gallows at Edinburgh, February the 20th, 1791, dressed in a suit of white cloth, trimmed with black. The awful ceremony, the dreadful apparatus of death, the surrounding multitude of spectators, appeared not to shake his frame, nor to agitate his mind. He mounted the platform of death with a firm step, and stood with great composure till the apparatus was adjusted; and then, in a collected manner, and in an audible voice, gave a brief account of his life.
He said that the first robbery he committed was in a stationer's shop, where he purloined a pocket-book. The success of this childish theft encouraged him to commit others: and in a short time he gave himself wholly up to thieving, never letting an opportunity slip of possessing himself of money or goods, by fraud or force, until the day he was committed to gaol. He said that he often escaped in hackney-chairs, and advised the officer on guard at the Castle to search all such vehicles.
He declared most solemnly that three miserable men, who had been executed two years ago at the place where he then stood, of the names of Falconer, Bruce, and Dick, were innocent, for that he himself had committed the robberies for which they were condemned!
With exultation he continued -- that the sums he had acquired by thieving and cheating did not amount to less than two thousand pounds, besides the fortune of the unhappy woman, whom he seduced and ruined. It was high time to stop the monster's speech, and the platform was therefore dropped, while yet he was exulting in his sins!
"Scotland," says the paper from which we extract this unparalleled case, "seems to be in an improved state: the following ingenious contrivance was lately practised at Glasgow: -- While a merchant in King Street was counting some money and bank-notes on a counter, a staff or small rod, overlaid with bird-lime, was suddenly thrust in at the door, which having touched the notes, two of them were thereby carried off; and, before the merchant could pursue, the ingenious actor had made his escape."