British Executions

James Wilson

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 8 Aug 1834

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown






James Wilson,

At Carlisle, on Monday the l6th March, for the wilful Murder

of JOHN ELLIOT, a poor Pack Boy, on Eastdale Moor,

on the 8th day of August, 1884.

ON February the 12th, came on the trial of James Docherty
or Wilson. The indictment set forth,' That you the said
James Docherty or Wilson did, on the 8th day of August, on
Eastdale Moor, in the county of Cumberland, wickedly, feloni-
ously and barbarously murder John Elliot, aged 14 years, by
striking him on the head with large wooden clogs, or some
other weapon to the prosecutor unknown, and afterwards take
from his person £1,13s, more or less, his wooden box or pack,
with its contents, valued at £1 : That after he had murdered
the deceased he threw the box into a stream or river.' The
prisoner, in a style of effrontery and impudence, pled Not

A number of witnesses were then called, who all, in the
clearest manner, tended to criminate the prisoner. The Judge
then summed up the evidence; and the Jury, after a few
minutes consultation, returned a verdict of Guilty.


Since his condemnation the prisoner behaved in a careless
and reckless manner. He was often visited by the Catholic
Priest of Dumfries. At 12 o'clock on Monday he appeared
on the scaffold, arected on the top of the Jail. After a few
minutes spent in prayer, the bolt was drawn, and he was
launched into eternity.


John Elliot was at Hexham born,            

And grew a simple boy,                     

A tender mind and slender frame,            

Unfit for hard employ.                     

Induced from his home to range,            

Far from his native town;                  

His little box of pedlar ware               

He carried up and down.                     

He travell'd through Northumberland;      

Oft had he cross'd the Tweed ;            

And where shepherds climb the heights,      

Their fleecy flocks to feed.               

Snuff boxes, purses, little combs,         

And trumps, were in his pack;               

And oft the curious eye to please,         

He loos'd them from his back.               

His trinkets were of Sheffield make.      

Of iron, steel and brass; .               

His ballads the attention drew            

Of many a buxom lass.                     

To buy his prints, the children oft         

On mothers would prevail;                  

Then to amend his trisling purse,         

Would offer him a meal.                     

On every side of winding Tweed            

Right many friends he had,                  

For all esteem'd him, for he was            

An honest, harmless lad.                  

But can the innocence of Iambi            
Protect them from the fox ?               

Who would have thought that such a boy,   
Would be murder'd for his box ?            

Cue human bloodhound followed him,         

And flatter'd night and day,               

To lure him to the wilderness,            

To make of him a prey.                     
   " If you but cross the moor," quoth he,
       " Whatever may befall,            
   I'll bring you to a plenteous board.   
          And hospitable hall;         
    " And when you open out your pack,   
       They'll buy up every thing;      
         That great addition to your purse
       With joy will make you sing."      
This was the way that he deceiv'd         
      The poor unthinking boy ;         
He by hopes of gain beguil'd,         
          Was fill'd quite full of joy.   
       With worse than devils artifice   
    He lur'd him to the wild,            
      And with worse than savage breast,
      To kill the harmless child.         
    For lack of weapons on a bent      
      Did iron-shod clogs employ,         
    And with these monst'rous clogs      
   He kill'd the little boy.            
       Alas! a brother's life,         
         Of such a small account,         
       His blood should thus be shed.   
          For a trifling pack's amount.
Since first that Cain his brother dew,   
          Can intermediate time,         
       Such cowardly murder shew among   
          The lost of human kind ?      
       But mark the wooden box he stole,
          When he the owner slew,      
   Tho' rifled and thrown in the stream,
       A strict enquiry drew.            
So now he's hanged for the deed,      
          And what more can I say,      
    But he that did no mercy show,   
Can scarce for mercy pray.            
This barbarous Murder was discovered by a Shepherd's dog.      
As it is very frequent in that part of the country, Shepherds   
go out of a Sunday evening to look after their flocks ; on one
of these evenings the body of the lad was discovered.         
Printed for Francis M'Cartney —Price One Halfpenny.


This execution notice begins: 'At Carlisle, on Monday the 16th March, for the wilful Murder of JOHN ELLIOT, a poor Pack Boy, on Eastdale Moor, on the 8th day of August, 1834.' This sheet was published by Francis McCartney and would have cost a half-penny to buy.

Broadsides were sold to a captive audience, since there were very few other forms of entertainment available to the poorer members of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century society. As a result, sensational or morally outrageous stories from up and down the country would be distributed. Despite the high levels of illiteracy and poverty, these stories would have reached a large section of the population, as they were intended to be read in public, to groups of people.

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.