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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


rrs PRISONERS. 7 127 The Talbooth.] was sitting in the Tolbooth hearing the case of the Laud of Craigmillar, who was suing a divorce against his wife, the Earl of Bothwell forcibly dragged out one of the most important witnesses, and carrying him to his castle of Cricliton, eleven miles distant, threatened to hang him if he uttered a word. On the charge of being a ? Papist,? among many other prisoners in the Tolbooth in 1628, was the Countess of Abercorn, where her health became broken by confinement, and the misery of a prison which, if it was loathsome in the reign of George III., must have been something terrible in the days orCharles I. In 1621 she obtained a licence to go to the baths of Bristol, but failing to leave the city, was lodged for six months in the Canongate gaol. After she had been under restraint in various places for three years, she was permitted to remain ir. the earl?s house at Paisley, in March 1631, on condition that she ? reset no Jesuits,? and to return if required under a penalty of 5,000 merks. Taken seriatim, the records of the Tolbooth contain volumes of entries made in the following brief fashion :- ?1662, June 10.-John Kincaid put in ward by warrant of the Lords of the Privy Council, for ? pricking of persons suspected of witchcraft anwarranfably.? Liberated on finding caution not to do so again. ?-June 10.-Robert Binning for falsehood ; hanged with the false papers about his neck. ?--4ug. q.-Robert Reid for murder. His head struck from his body at the mercat cross. ?- Dec. 4.-James Ridpath, tinker ; to be qhupitt from Castle-hill to Netherbow, burned on the cheek with the Toun?s common mark, and banished the kicgdom, for the crime of double adultery. ?? 1663, March ~g.-ATexander Kennedy; hanged for raising false bonds and aritts. ?-March z I.-Aucht Qwakers; liberated, certifying if again troubling the place, the next prison shall be the Correction House. ?- July 8.-Katherine Reid ; hanged for theft. ?-July &--Sir Archibald Johnston of Wamston; treason. Hanged, his head cut off and placed on the Netherbow. ? - July I 8.-Bessie Brebner ; hansed for murder. ?I -Aug. zS.-The Provost of Kirkcudbright ; banished for keeping his house during a tumult. ? - Oct. 5.-William Dodds ; beheaded for murder.? And so on in grim monotony, till we come to the last five entries in the old record, which is quite incomplete. 1728, Oct. zs.-John Gibson; forging a declaration, 18th January, 1727. His lug nailed to the Tron, and dismissed. ?( 1751, March 18.-Helen Torrance :md Jean Waldie were executed this day, for stealing a child, eight or nine years of age, and selling its body to the surgeons for dissection. Alive on Tuesday when carried OK, and dead on Friday, with an incision in the belly, but sewn up again. ? I 7 5 6, May 4.-Sir William Dalrymple of Cousland; for shooting at Capt. Hen. Dalrymple of Fordell, with a pistol at the Cross of Edinburgh. Liberated?on 14th May, on bail for 6,000 merks, to answer any complaint. ? 1752, Jan. 10.-Norman Ross ; hanged and hung in chains between Leith and Edinburgh, for issassinating Lady Bailie, sister to Home of Wedderburn. ? I 1757, Feb. 4.-Janies Rose, Excise Officer at Muthill ; banished to America for forging receipts for arrears.? It was a peculiarity of the Tolbooth, that through clanship, or some other influence, nearly every criminal of rank confined in it achieved an escape. Robert fourth Lord Burleigh, a half insane peer, who was one of the commissioners for executing the office of Lord Register in 1689, and who married a daughter of the Earl of hfelville about the time of the Union, assassinated a schoolmaster who had married a girl to whom he had paid improper addresses, was committed to the Tolbooth, and sentenced to death; and of his first attempt to escape the following story is told He was carried out of the prison in a large trunk, to be conveyed to Leith, on the back of a powerful porter, who was to put hini on board a vessel about to sail for the Continent. It chanced that when slinging the trunk on his back, the porter did so with Lord Burleigh?s head doiwnnmost, thus it had to sustain the weight of his whole body. The posture was agony, the way long and rough, but life was dear. Unconscious of his actual burden, the porter reached the Netherbow Port, where an acquaintance asked him ?whither he was going?? ?:TO Leith,? was the reply. ? Is the work good enough to afford a glass before going farther?? was the next question. The porter said it was; and tossed down the trunk with such violence that it elicited a scream from Lord Burleigh, who instantly fainted. Scared and astounded, the porter wrenched open the trunk, when its luckless inmate was found cramped, doubled-up, and senseless. A crowd
Volume 1 Page 127
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