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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 2 59 found shut, and on opening it a man in black (Brodie) hurriedly passed him, a circumstance to which, not having the slightest suspicion, he paid no attention. He went to his room up stairs, where he remained only a few minutes, and then returned, shutting the outer door hastily behind him. Perceiving this, Ainslie became alarmed, gave the signal, and retreated. Smith and Brown did not observe the call, but thinking themselves in danger when they heard Mr. Bonnar coming down stairs, they cocked their pistols, determined not to be taken. After remaining about half-an-hour, they got off with their booty, which, much to their disappointment, amounted only to &16 odds, while they expected to have found as many hundreds.’ On coming out, they were surprised not to find either Brodie or Amslie ; but, after returning to their former rendezvous, the latter soon joined them. In order to prevent suspicion, Brown and Ainslie immediately went to one Fraser’s, who kept a Tavern in the New Town, where, in company with some others, they supped and spent the night. Brodie, it appears, had hurried home, where he changed his dress, and then proceeded to the house of Jean Watt (who had several children to him) in Libberton’s Wynd, where he remained all night. The parties met on the Friday evening following, and divided the booty in equal portions. The robbery having been discovered about ten o’clock the same night it was committed, the town was in consternation, and the police on the alert in all directions. Brown (alias Humphry Moore), who appears to have been the greatest villain of the whole, was at the time under sentence of transportation for a crime committed in England ; and having seen an advertisement from the Secretary of State’s Office, offering a reward and a pardon to any person who should discover the robbery of Inglis and Horner’s shop, he resolved on turning King’s evidence, foreseeing that the public prosecutor would be under the necessity of obtaining pardon for his previous offence before he could be admitted as a witness. Accordingly, on Friday evening, immediately after securing his dividend at Smith‘s, he proceeded to the Procurator-Fiscal’s, and gave information, but without at the time mentioning Brodie’s name as connected with the transaction.* He likewise conducted the officers of justice to Salisbury Crags, where they found a number of keys concealed under a large stone, which he said were intended for future operations. In consequence of this, Ainslie, Smith, and his wife and servant-maid, were all apprehended ; and, after a precognition, lodged in prison. Brodie, suspecting he stood on ticklish ground, fled on Sunday morning ; and from the masterly manner in which he accomplished his escape, baffled all pursuit for a time. On the Wednesday following, Mr. Williamson, King’s messenger for Scotland, was despatched in search of him. He traced Brodie to Dunbar and Newcastle, and afterwards to London ; from thence Williamson went to In their search they had overlooked a concealed drawer in one of the desks, where, at the veri The reason of this appears to have been an intention to procure money from Bmdie for secrecy, time, there was €600 deposited. as, on ascertaining that he had fled, he no longer kept silence.
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260 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Margate, Deal, and Dover, but lost sight of him altogether j and after eighteen days’ fruitless search, returned to Edinburgh. But for Brodie’s own imprudence, impelled apparently by a sort of fatuity frequently evinced by persons similarly situated, there was every chance of his finally escaping. He remained in London, it appears, until the 23d March, when he took out his passage in the name of John Dixon, on board one of the smacks bound for Leith, called the Endeavmr. After the vessel had gone down the river Thames, Brodie came on board in a small boat, about twelve o’clock at night, disguised as an old gentleman in bad health. He was accompanied by two of the owners, who stopped on board for a short time. On going out to sea, as it no doubt had been previously arranged, the Endeavour steered for Flushing instead of Leith, where Brodie was put ashore, and immediately after took a Dutch skiff for Ostend. So far so well : but, unfortunately for Brodie, there had been a Mr. Geddes, tobacconist in Mid-Calder, and his wife, fellow passengers, with whom he frequently entered into conversation. On parting he had given Geddes three letters to deliver in Edinburgh-one addressed to his brother-in-law, Matthew Sherr8, upholsterer ; another to Michael Henderson, Grassmarket ; and the t,hird to Ann Grant,’ Cant’s Close. These letters, as he might well have expected, were the means of his discovery. On landing at Leith, Geddes became acquainted with the circumstances of the robbery, and immediately suspecting that Mr. John Dixon was no other than Deacon Brodie, he opened the letters, and became doubly strengthened in his opinion ; but not having made up his mind how to proceed, Mr. Geddes did not deliver the letters to the authorities till near the end of May. Even then, however, they were the means of Brodie’s apprehension, and were afterwards put in evidence against him. Information of the circumstances was instantly despatched to Sir John Potter, British Consul at Ostend, in consequence of which Brodie was traced to Amsterdam, where, on application to Sir James Harris, then Consul, he was apprehended in an alehouse through the instrumentality of one Daly, an Irishman, on the eve of his departure to America, and lodged in the Stadthouse. A Mr. Groves, messenger, was despatched from London on the 1st of July for the prisoner, by whom he was brought to London ; and from thence to Edinburgh by Mr. Williamson, who was specially sent up to take charge of him. On the journey from London, Brodie was in excellent spirits, and told many anecdotes of his sojourn in Holland. The trial took place at the High Court of Justiciary, on the 27th August 1788, before Lords Hailes, Eskgrove, Stonefield, and Swinton.’ The Court, . ’ Brodie’s favourite mistress. She had three children to him. a The counsel for the Prosecutor were-Ilay Campbell, Esq., Lord Advocate (afterwards Lord President) ; Robert Dundas, Esq., SolicitorGeneral (aftermrds Lord Chief-Baron) ; William Tait, Esq., and Jam- Wolfe Murray, Esq. (afterwards Lord Wigletie), Depute-Advocates ; and Mr. Robert Dundas, Clerk to the Signet. For William Brodie-The Hon. Henry Erskine, Dean of Faculty ; Alexander Wight, Esq. ; Charles
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