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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 369
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 265 it was a plain lock, his men having lately altered that shop door, at the lowering of the street : that the plan of breaking into the shop was accordingly concerted betwixt them; and they agreed to meet on the evening of the 24th of December 1786, being a Saturday, at the house of James Clark, vintner, where they generally met with company to gamble: that, having met there, they played at the game of hazard till the declarant lost all his money ; but at this time Brodie was in luck, and gaining money: that the declarant often asked Brodie to go with him on their own business ; but Brodie, as he was gaining money, declined going, and desired the declarant to stay a little and he would go with him.” Smith, however, becoming impatient, as it8 was near four in the morning, went himself to the Messrs. Bruce’s shop, from which he took a number of watches, and a variety of jewellery articles, amounting in all to the value of 3350. Brodie called upon Smith next day, when the latter told him that he could not expect a full share, “but that there were the goods, and he might choose for himself.” Brodie accordingly took a gold seal, a gold watch-key set with garnet stones, and two gold rings. As the safest method, it was agreed that Smith should go to England and dispose of the goods-Brodie giving him five guineas and a half to defray his expenses. The goods were accordingly sold in Chesterfield to one John Tasker, alias Murray, who had been previously banished from Scotland. Smith repaid the money advanced by Brodie, besides giving him three ten-pound notes more to keep for him, in case of suspicion, which he afterwards got in sums as he wanted it. While in prison, a desperate attempt to escape was made by Smith and Ainslie-the latter of whom occupied a room on the highest floor. It occurred in the night between the 4th and 5th of May, by converting the iron handle of the jack (or bucket) into a pick-lock, and one of the iron hoops into a saw. Smith took one door off the hinges, and opened the other which led to Ainslie’s apartment. Both prisoners setting then to work, they cut a hole in the ceiling, together with another in the roof of the prison, and had prepared about sixteen fathoms of rope, manufactured out of the sheets of their beds. The falling of the slates on the street, however, attracted the notice of the sentinel, who, giving the alarm, they were immediately secured. After this failure, Smith seems to have given up all hope. He at one time intended to plead guilty, and prepared a speech in writing for the purpose ; but was afterwards prevailed upon to take his chance of a trial. He also, with his own hand, drew up a list of robberies-some of them of great magnitude-intended for future commission. During Smith‘s stay in Edinburgh, he kept a kind of grocery shop in the Cowgate ; and he affirmed that his wife knew nothing of his criminal mode of life. Of the history of the other accomplices nothing seems to have been known, even by their companions. In the list of witnesses the designation of the one is John Brown, alias Humphry Moore, sometime residing in Edinburgh; of the other, Andrew Ainslie, sometime shoemaker in Edinburgh. Her evidence was not taken in Court.
Volume 8 Page 370
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