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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


collected ; the City Guard came promptiy on the spot, and when the prisoner recovered from his swoon he was safe in his old quarters, which did not hold him long, however, as it would appear from the old folio of Douglas. Peerage that he escaped in his sister?s clothes. Yet as Lord Burleigh died in 1713, Douglas in this matter seems to confound him with his son, the Master. Of all the thousands who must have been prisoners there, recorded and unrecorded, on every conceiv- The malt-tax, the dismissal of the Duke of Roxburgh from his ofice as Scottish Secretary of State, and the imposition of an intolerable taxation, the first result of the Union, and the endeavours of the revenue officers to repress smuggling, all embittered the blood of the people. The latter officials were either all Englishmen, ?? or Scotsmen, chosen, as was alleged, on account of their treachery to Scottish interests, and received but little support even from local authorities. If in their occasional INTERIOR OF THE SIGNET LIBRARY. (FWUI a Vinujublidud in 1829) able charge, the stories of none have created more excitement than those of Captain Porteom, of Ratharine Nairne, and another prisoner named Hay; and singular to say, the names of none of them appear in the mutilated record just quoted. Porteous has been called the real hero of the Tolbooth. ?The mob that thundered at its ancient portals on the eventfd night of the 7th of September, 1736, and dashed through its blazing embers to drag forth the victim of their indignant revenge, has cast into shade all former acts of Lynch h w , for which the Edinburgh populace were once so notorious.? But the real secret and mainspring of the whole kagedy was jealousy of the treatment of Scotland by the ministry in Lcndon collisions with smugglers they shed blood, hey were at once prosecuted, and an outcry was raised that Englishmen should not be allowed to slaughter Scotsmen with impunity.? At length these quarrels led to and culminated in the Porteous mob. The seaport towns with which the coast of Fife is so thickly studded were at this time much infested by Scottish bands of daring smuggiers, many of whom had been buccaneers in the Antilles and Gulf of Florida, and thus were constantly at war with the revenue officials. One of these contrabandistas, named Wilson, in revenge for various seizures and fines, determined to rob the collector of Customs at Pittenweem, and in this, with the aid of a lad named Robertson and two others, he fully succeeded They were all apprehended, and tried ;
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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.
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