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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Leith Walk.] THE REV. JOHN KELLOE. I55 of sand, much of it was carted away, and, with the ashes of the malefactors of centuries, converted into mortar, and used in the erection of the New Town. So far from being a knoll, the place is now a hollow. It is related that, every day while the carts were taking away the sand, the proprietor of the knoll stood regularly at the place receiving the money in return, and ?every little sum he got was converted into liquor, and applied to the comfort of his inner man. A public-house was at length erected oe the spot for his particular behoof; and, assuredly, as long as the Gallow Lee lasted this house did not want custom, Perhaps, familiar as the reader may be with stories of sots who have drunk away their last coin, he never before heard of this thing being done in so literal a manner.? It immediately adjoined the place known as Shrub Hill. Ordinary malefactors were hanged at the Cross in the Grassmarket, or on the shore of Leith ; but the Gallow Lee was latterly the special place for the execution of witches, and for hanging in chains the bodies of those who had committed great crimes. Sometimes only a hand or other limb was gibbeted here, while the rest of the body was buried elsewhere. Among the most noted executions and gibbetings here, we may add the following to those which have been referred to incidentally elsewhere in our pages :- Crawford of Drumsoy records that two criminals were burned to death here in 1570; and then he relates an execution at the same place in the autumn of the year, which made some excitement even in the Scotland of those days. Mr. John Kelloe, minister of Spott, near DunSar, being seized by a sudden remorse of conscience, came to Edinburgh, and judicially made confession of a crime which otherwise would never have been proved against him. He had been married to a poor but very handsome and attractive girl, ? very witty and fond, a very little woman, but well shap?d,? before he got the benefice of Spott, after which he began to propose to himself a second marriage with the wealthy daughter of a laird, whose name Crawford omits, provided he could by any means rid himself of his first wife, to whom now he began to behave harshly and petulantly. To prepare the way for the execution of his design, and to conceal it when done, he suddenly began to dissemble in his treatment of her ; his manner was full of tenderness, kindness, and delicacy. ?She who now thought herself the happiest of her sex,? continues Crawford in his ? Memoirs,? written in I 705, ? effusively strove to make him so too, and hastened her own ruin ; for, upon a Sunday morning, as she was saying her prayers upon her knees, he came softly behind her, put a rope (which he had kept all night in his pocket) about her neck, and after he had strangled her tied her up to an iron hook which a day or two before he had purposely nailed to the ceiling of the room. This done, he bolted his gate, crept out of his parlour window, stept demurely to church, and charmed his hearers with a most excellent sermon.? The murderer next imited two or three of his parishioners to sup with him, telling them casually, as it were, that ?? his wife was not well, and of late somewhat inclined to melancholy ; that she had not? come to kirk that day, but would be glad to see them at her house.? On knocking at the gate, the Rev. Mr. Kelloe affected to be much astonished that there was no response. Ultimately he and his guests were obliged to make a forcible entrance, and the murdered wife was found hanging from the hook to which her corpse had been attached. The reverend incumbent of Spott now feigned grief and counterfeited sorrow so much to the life that his neighbours almost forgot to mourn for the dead so much were they afraid of losing the living. However, these forged tears, by the mercy of God to this great offender, suddenly became real ones.? Tortured by conscience, after six weeks of misery he made a confession of his crime to the schoolmaster of Dunbar, according to Crawford-to Andrew Simpson, minister there, according to the ? Historie of King James the Sext ?-and after being convicted, on his own confession, at Edinburgh, he was conveyed to the Gallow Lee, on the 4th of October, and strangled. His corpse was then consumed by fire and the ashes scattered on the air. ?? Never did any man appear more penitent or less fearful of death. He was attended from the prison to the stake by three of the clergy, and by the way he rather instructed them than received any assistance from them.? A century or so later and we have some appalling accounts of the cremation of so-called witches at the terrible Gallow Lee. In 1678 five were (mercifully) strangled first and burnt to ashes there, by sentence of the Lords; and other four, their companions, were burned at Painston Muk, in their own parish. The accusations against them were intimacy with the devil, dancing with him, renouncing their baptism, and being kissed by him, though his lip3 were icy cold, and his breath like damp air ; taking a communion at his hands, when ?? the bread was like wafers, the drink sometimes blood and other times like black moss water,?? and much more to the same purpose, all of which is gravely recorded by Lord Fountain
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156 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith Walk. hall within thirty years of the time when Steele and Addison were writing in the Specfatorf The 10th of October, 1681, saw five unfortunate victims of misrule, named Garnock, Foreman, Russel, Ferrie, and Stewart, executed at the Gallow Lee, where their bodies were buried, while their heads were placed on the Cowgate Port. Some of their friends came in the night, and reverently lifting the remains, re-interred them in the West Churchyard They had the courage also to take half of the linen over them, and stufft the coffin with shavings.? Many urged that the latter should be borne through all the chief thoroughfares ; but PatricK Walker adds that instead, we went out by. the back of the [city] wall, in at the Bristo Port, and turned up to the churchyard [Greyfrairs], where they were interred close to the Martyrs? tomb, with the greatest multitude of people, old and young, men and women, ministers and others, that I ever saw together.? JOPPA PANS, down the heads for the same purpose, but being scared they were obliged to enclose them in a box, which they buried in a garden at Lauriston. There they lay till the 7th of October, 1726, a period of forty-five years, when a Mr. Shaw, proprietor of the garden, had them exhumed. The resurrection of the ghastly relics of the Covenanting times made a great excitement in Edinburgh. They were rolled in four yards of fine linen and placed in a coffin. ?( Being young men, their teeth all remained,? says Patrick Walker (the author of ?? Biographia Presbyteriana ?). ? All were witness to the holes in each of their heads which the hangman broke with his hammer ; and according to the bigness of their skulls we laid their jaws to them, drew the other On the 10th of January, 1752, there was taken from the Tolbooth, hanged at the Gallow Lee, and gibbeted there, a man named Norman ROSS, whose remains were long a source of disgust and dismay to all wayfarers on the Walk. His crime was the assassination of Lady Baillie, a sister of Home the Laud of Wedderburn. A relation of this murder is given in a work entitled ?Memoirs of an Anstocrat,? published in 1838, by the brother of a claimant for the Earldom of Marchmont, a book eventually suppressed The lady in question married Ninian Home, a dominie, but by failure of her brothers ultimately became heiress, and the dominie died before her. Norman Ross was her footman, and secreted
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