British Executions

Margaret Crooks

Age: unknown

Sex: female

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 24 Dec 1718

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown





Margaret Crooks, who was Executed
at the Grass-Market of Edinburgh,
the twenty fourth of December 1718.
for the Murthering her own Child.

MARGARET CROOKS, Born in the Parish of North-Berwick in East
Loutbian, Aged Twenty Five Years, or thereby ; Being but of Poor
Parents, whose Father Deceased when she was but a Child, and the
sober Circumstances of her Mother was the Occasion of her being not Educat-
ed nor learned to Read ; But Engaged her self in Country Service such as
she was Capable off, where she fell Acquainted with a Young Man, whom
she says Courted her under Pretence of Marriage, and appointed the
Martimas following for the Accomplishing the same ; But during which
Time she fell with Child,she says that she told( the Father of it ) and he
at that Time Discouraged her with offering to go off the Country. Which
was the .Cause of her Concealing her being with Child. And Three
Months before her Delivery left her Service, and went home to her Mo-
thers House, who is an Aged old Woman, Living in the Parish of Ditle-
toun in East-Louthian. At which Place she was Delivered of a Child
without help, her Mother being not at Home at that Time.

And she likewise Declares and Affirms that the Child was Dead Born;
And she striving still to Conceal the same; And in a Day or two there-.
after carried the Dead Child to 'tis Father, who she Declares earnestly
Requested her to Burrie the same. Which she owns she did Burrie in
an Old Feel Dick, three Miles from her Mothers House. And then re-
turning to her Mothers House, found it in Confusion by an Accidental
Fire which had happened the House during her Absence.

And thereafter being Challenged by the Minister of the Parish, she
did Confess that she had brought, forth a Child but that it was Dead
Born, and that she had Burried the same. Where upon the Minister who
had been at great Pains with her, ordered some of his Parishoners to go_
with her to the place where she had Burried it. And when they had
found it the Child was not in the least Putrified, and the same Time she
took the Pains of a Woman in Labour, notwithstanding it was Eleven
Days before that Time, that she was Delivered of her Child.

She also Regreated her taking the Sacrament, during the time of her
being with Child.

She was very Penitent upon the Scaffold, and own'd the justice of
her Sentance; The Ministers taking very much Pains upon her, Praying
with her and for her, she desired the Prayers of all good Christians for her
and desired the Spectators to take Example by her.

EDINBURGH, Printed at the Foot of the Horse Wynd.   1718. 


This execution notice begins: 'THE LAST / SPEECH AND CONFESSION / OF / Margaret Crooks, who was Executed at the Grass-Market of Edinburgh, the twenty fourth of December 1718. for the Murthering her own Child.' This sheet was printed in 1718, by a publisher who had premises 'at the Foot of the Horse Wynd', Edinburgh.

It is interesting to note many oblique features of eighteenth century society in this text. The Church had begun to be involved in some aspects of rudimentary education for younger children, especially in non-urban areas. Here Margaret's lack of education, poverty and her pregnancy out with marriage are linked as ideas. Furthermore, the Calvinist and Presbyterian religious principles, so prevalent in Scotland, are highlighted as the Minister publicly questions Margaret about her pregnancy and involves 'parishioners' in discovering her secret. Finally, Margaret was caught because there was a fire at her house because she left the hearth untended - a continual domestic hazard.

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.