Date Of Execution: 24 Jul 1829
Execution Place: unknown
An Account of the Execution of John
Stuart and Catherine Wright his
Wife, for the Murder of Robert
Lamont, by poison, on board of the
Toward Castle Steam Boat.
Wednesday, Aug. 19, John Stuart, and Catherine Wright attoned
for their atrocious crimes on the scaffold. With the exception
of Burke, no criminal has excited so much public detestation as the
hardened villain of whom justice has now ridded society. The fate
of the woman, though in a legal point of view, was equally criminal
with her husband, has excited comparatively a degree of compas-
sion in the breasts of those acquainted with the circumstances in
which she had all along been placed with regard to Stuart. At-
tached to him in an infatuated degree, she suffered every kind of
abuse at his hands; and yet she continued to aet as his coadjutor,
and to serve him as faithfully as if he had behaved to her with in-
cessant kindness. Stuart, previous to his trial, in conjunction
with the criminals amongst whom he mixed in the prison, planned,
and had actually commenced operations, by which he expected to
effect his escape. His intention was to murder the turnkey who
wasin immediate attendance, and, after perpetrating this atrocity,to
kill Mr Fisher, the lieutenant governor of the jail, in whose pos-
session are the keys of the principel entrance. Luokily the scheme
was discovered in time to counteract the daring operations of the
Since they received sentence of death they have been regularly
visited by the Rev. Dr Gordon and the Rev. Mr Porteous, chaplain
to the prison, who have been unwearied in their administrations of
religious instruction and consolation. They paid most implicit at-
tention to the advices and admonitions of their spiritual instructors,
they conversed freely on the wickedness and enormity of their past
lives, and they deeply deplored their disregard of industry and mo-
rality, and their utter neglect of the holy precepts of the Gospel,
which alone can insure comfort, prosperity, and respectability on
this earth, and eternal felicity in the world to come.
At the suggestion of the ministers, they were daily brought to-
gether for a short time to hear the same exhortations, and they were-
inspired with the same grounds of hope. They spent most of their
time in reading the Bible and such religions books as were allowed
them by the minsters, and they were by no means so brutishly igno-
rant as they might be supposed to be from the enormity, of their
The unhappy criminals slept little during Tuesday night in the
Lock-up-house, (being previously brought from the Salton hill Jail,
when, upon parting with the humane Governor and Turnkeys who
had them under their charge, they expressed their utmost gratitude
for the humanity and kindness with which they were treated by
them.) In the morning as soon as the Clergymen were announced,
they left their cells, and entered immediately and to appearance
seemingly anxiously, into conversation with these worthy men, who
during their confinement in the Jail, were unwearied in their pious.
endeavours to bring them to a sense of the awful situation in which
they were placed; and we are happy to say trial their exertions
were crowned with success, for their last moments were solely taken
up with enquiries after their future prospects; this alone oceupied
their thoughts, while the preparations were making for their final
exit,—no earthly ideas seemed at this time to engross their atten-
tion. When the magistrates were announced, the executioner
prepared to pinion their arms;—Stuart submitted with a degree of
calm fortitude, but his frail companion shewed some signs of faint-
ness at this doleful ceremony. At a few minutes after eight they
left the Lock-up-house, and proceeded by Libberton's wynd to the
scaffold, which was strongly guarded by a body of Police, and
around which, in a compact mass, were thousands, male and female,
anxiously waiting to see the last sentence of the law put into effect.
Prayers were offered up to Him, who alone is able to grant repent-
ance for manifold sins, and a psalm chosen for the awful occasion
was sung. They were then supported to the drop, and after shaking
hands, and offering up an inward prayer, Stuart dropt the signal,
and thus attoned for the awful crimes of which they were guilty.
John Stuart was 32 years of age, a native of Ireland, and a
Blacksmith by trade. He married Catherine Wright about six
years ago;—she was a native of Glasgow, and 22 years ages.
During; these six years, they have chiefly subsisted on the proceeds-
of their murderous and. diabolical resources.
This execution report begins: 'An Account of the Execution of John Stuart and Catherine Wright his wife, for the Murder of Robert Lamont, by poison, on board of the Toward Castle Steam Boat.'
This sheet mainly deals with the time between the sentencing of Stuart and Wright and their execution, and the National Library of Scotland holds another broadside detailing the offence and trial. It was very common for a series of broadsides to be printed which followed the development of a particular case. This generally involved a report on the crime itself, the apprehension of the suspects, the trial and sentencing, the execution and, finally, the last words.
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.