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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 363 but at that time a Bow Street officer of much repute), who, commencing his investigations at Glasgow, and from thence carefully tracing the route of the robbers in their progress to London, was soon able to connect a chain of circumstantial evidence, well calculated to raise the hopes of his employers. The case having been again postponed, the trial was ultimately fixed for the 11th of May 1820. The Court was crowded to suffocation at an early hour. No civil case had ever created agreater sensation. The Judges were, the Lord Chief Commissioner Adam, Lord Gillies, and Lord Pitmilly. Counsel for the bank, Francis Jeffrey, Henry Cockburn, and James L’Amy, Esquires, and James Smyth, W.S.,’ agent ; for Mackcoull, J. P. Grant and Archibald Alison, Esquires; and Rlr. William Jamieson, W.S., agent. Mr. Cockburn‘was in the act of addressing the Court, and detailing the leading features of the case, when, to the astonishment of all present, Mackcoull appeared pressing through the crowd, not stopping till he got close to Mr. Cockburn. Here he stood with great composure, looking round with an arch grin peculiarly his own j and as the speaker proceeded, he came so close that Mr. Cockburn feeling interrupted by his presence, demanded that he should be removed to another part of the Court. Mr. Jeffrey joined in the same request, when the pursuer took his seat beside his own c~unsel.~ The identity of Mackcoull, as one of the three individuals who lodged in the house of the late Mrs. Stewart, Glasgow, previous to the robbery of the bank, and who posted their way to London immediately after its committal, was fully established by the various witnesses produced, and many facts were brought out tending to expose the whole plan of the robbery. Notwithstanding the turn which the case had thus taken against him, Mackcoull continued to walk about in Court, without betraying much uneasiness, and occasionally entered into conversation with those around him ; but when he heard the name of John Xcoltock, blacksmith in London, announced as the next witness, he rose and attempted to get out of Court. This he found impossible, owing to the hensity of the crowd ; and the instant he saw Scoltock, he changed colour and sank down by the side of the wall in a kind of faint. He was then carried out of Court, and did not again appear for some time. The evidence of the smith at once established the guilt of Mackcoull beyond the possibility -of doubt, and Mrs. Houghton White confirmed his testimony Mr. Smyth, who had been repeatedly insulted on the streets by Mackcoull, at length brought him before Mr. A. Sniellie, then a Police Magistrate. Mr. Smyth began his complaint by stating that Mackcoull bad robbed the Paisley Bank to the amount of %20,000. The latter instantly interrupted him in the host impudent manner, saying, “No, sir, that is not true, for the sum waa E20,406 !” ‘‘ Then,” replied Mr. Smyth, “the less I lie.” Mr. Smellie bound him over to keep the peace towards all his Majesty’s subjects, and in‘particular towards Mr. Smyth. It is believed he kept his promise. * Afterwar& Sheriff of Lanarkshiie, and author of the valuable and popular Histories of the French Revolutiou and Europe. The behaviour of Mackcoull was impertinent in the extreme : he stared at the judges with matchless effrontery. His agent, Mr. Jamieson, observed to him, that no man but himself could have acted as he had done in Court. Mackcoull, it is said, felt miwh pleased at this compliment.
Volume 9 Page 482
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364 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. in many particulars. When William Gibbons, the pugilist, appeared in the witnesses’ box, he was asked by Counsel-“ Mr. Gibbons, do you know James Moffat, the pursuer in this suit 4” “NO ; I do not know any person of that name.” Mackcoull, who was among the crowd, on being called, came forward in a slounging manner. (Gibbons to Mackcoull, in a loud whisper), “ Jem, hold up your head, I can’t see you,” Mackcoull looked up. Witness-“ Yes, this is Jem Mackcoull ; I never knowed him by any other name.” Gibbons related the circumstance of Mackcoull having deposited with him a parcel of Scotch notes, amounting to upwards of 313,000. At the conclusion of the trial, the evidence which had been adduced appeared so conclusive, that the jury retired only for twenty minutes, when they returned, finding for the bank in all the three issues. By this verdict the tables were most, unexpectedly turned, and Mackcoull, from being a p w w r , was in his turn pursued : for the Lord Advocate thought it his duty to serve him with an indictment to stand trial before the High Court of Justiciary on the 12th of June. His trial was postponed till the 19th of the month, when the Court of Justiciary, as the Jury Court had been, was much crowded. All the witnesses who appeared on the jury trial were again cited, with the addition of Mr. Sayer and the prisoner’s wife, who proved the restitution of the 311,941 odds, in 1811. Mackcoull’s brother and other friends in London, endeavoured by every means to prevent the principal witnesses from attending at the trial. Gibbons, in spite of promises and threats, came boldly forward ; but Scoltock was so wrought upon that he had resolved to absent himself. After a great deal of trouble, he was discovered, very much disguised, and conveyed to Edinburgh by express, where he arrived just in the nick of time. Mackcoull, calculating on his absence, flattered himself with the hope of acquittal. He was consequently equally surprised and disheartened when Scoltock entered the witnesses’ box He had previously been apparently in good spirits; but towards the close of the trial he often looked round with a vacant stare, muttering to himself. When the jury returned a verdict of guilty, he gave a malignant grin ; but stood up with firmness on receiving sentence to be hanged, and bowed respectfully to the Court. Overwhelmed with despair, he said to the Governor, with much emotion, “ Had not the eye of God been upon me, such a connected chain of evidence never could have been brought forward.” The prisoner was not long in jail till his usual flow of spirits returned, and he talked with much cheerfulness to all who came to visit him, indulging in his metaphors with the utmost pleasantry. Mr. Denovan, who strongly suspected Mackcoull to have been the murderer of Begbie (and who drew up an interesting narrative on the subject), happening to be in Edinburgh, called at the prison, with the view of putting a question or two to him. The result tended greatly to strengthen the belief in his guilt. Fairly thrown off his guard, by the artful conversation of his visitor, ‘‘ Witness, do you know that man V’ On being carried back to prison, his fortitude entirely failed him.
Volume 9 Page 483
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