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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


The Tolboath] WILSON EXECUTED. 129 tVilson and Robertson were sentenced to death, without the slightest hope of a pardon. While the criminals were lying in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, by the aid of two horse-stealers, who were confined in a cell immediately above them, they succeeded in cutting the iron stanchels of a window, singing psalms the while to drown all sound. One of the horse-stealers succeeded in getting through the .aperture, and the other might have escaped in the .same way but for the obstinacy of Wilson, who insisted on making the next attempt. Being a bulky man .he stuck fast between the bars, the gudeman of the Tolbooth was speedily made aware of the attempt, and took sure means to preclude a repetition of it. The character of Wilson the smuggler was not without some no- 0le qualities, and he felt poignant regret for the selfish obstinacy by which he had prevented the escape ,of young Robertson; thus he formed the secret resolution of saving his comrade?s escape, which no one for a moment thought Qf marring. The success of this &ring achievement, though it doubly sealed his own fate, removed a load of remorse from the mind of Wilson, and excited so much sympathy in his behalf, that it was currently rumoured an attempt would be made to rescue him at the place of execution. When the day for that came-the 14th April, 1736 -it was found that the magistrates had taken ample precautions to enforce the law. Around the scaffold was a strong body of the City Guard, while a detachment of the Welsh Fusiliers -which young Elliot of Stobs, the future Lord Heathfield, had just joined as a volunteer-was under arms in the principal street. Vast multitudes had assembled, but their behaviour was subdued and orderly until the terrible sentence had been executed, and the body of Wilson swung from the lofty gibbet in the Grassmarket. Then a RELICS FROM THE TOLBOOTH NOW IN THE SCOTTISH ANTIOUARIAN MUSEUM. yell Of rage and life, at any risk I, Girdle; z, Fetter-lack; 3, Padlock; 4 Staple; 5, Iron Gaud. execration burst s f his own. On the Sunday before the execution, according to the astom of the period, the criminals were taken to that part of St. Giles?s named the Tolbooth kirk, to hear the sermon preached for their especial benefit, ?but under custody of four soldiers of the City ,Guard, armed with their bayonets. On the dismissal of the congregation, Wilson, who was an :active and powerful man, suddenly seized two of the soldiers, one with each hand, a third with his teeth, and calling to Robertson, ?Run, Geordie, run!? saw, with satisfaction, the latter knock the fourth soldier down, and achieve an 17 from the people, who broke through all restraint, and assailed the City Guard with every missile they could fmd. The body of Andrew Wilson was cut down, and an attempt made to carry it OK It was interred at Pathhead, the burial register of which records that ?? The corpse of Andrew Wilson, baker, son to Andrew Wilson, baker and inn-dweller in Dunfiikier (Qui mortuit GaJZflocio Edinbutgam), was interred on the 5th April, 1736.? An old denizen of Pathhead declared that he saw Wilson?s grave opened, and could not but remark upon the size and texture of his bones.
Volume 1 Page 129
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