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Carluke Execution by Hanging

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EXECUTION 1838, of Elizabeth Nicklson

Account of the Execution of Elizabeth Nicklson, or Shafto, or Jeffrey, when was Executed in front of the Jail, this morning, for a Double Murder,
1st, with administering, on the 4th October last, to Ann Newal or Carl, residing in Carluke, a quantity of arsenic, which she mixed with meal and water and whisky, in consequence of which she died;
2nd, with having administered to Hugh Munro, then labourer or miner at carluke, a quantity of arsenic, which she mixed with porridge; and Hugh Munro died in consequence of having partaken of the same.

IT will be recollected that the unhappy woman who has this day justly forfeited her life to the offended laws of God, and of man,was tried at our last Assizes. The indictment against the prisoner ran thus- 'You the said Elizabeth Nicklson or Shafto or Jeffrey . lately resding at Carluke, are charged with administering on the 4th of Octeber, last, to Ann Newal or Carl residing in Carluke, a quantity of arsenic. which you mixed up with meal and water and whisky, and which you pretended was a medicine for her benefit and the said Ann Newal or Carl having drank thereof, became.violently ill, and.died next day in consequence of having swallowed the said mixture.?

You are also charged with having on the 28th of October last , administered to to Hugh Munro, then labourer or miner at Carluke,and lodging with you, a quantity of arsenic which you had mixed up, with porridge and the said Hugh Munro having partaken of the porridge became ill  and , continued so-the two following days. You are likewise accused,of having on the 30th, October last, administered to the said Hugh Monro a quantity of arsenic which you had mixed up with rhubarb and the said Hugh Munro  died in consequence of having partaken of the same.

The prisoner pleaded Not Guilty, and the trial proceeded -    Never before was there so connected and convincing a chain of circumstancial evidence developed in a Court of Justice.    The following is a sort of summing up of the facts of the case, as they were sworn to on the trial.   

It appeared the no suspicion had been excited against the prisoner amongst the villagers of Carluke, on the death of the old woman, Carl, who resided next door to the prisoner -but that when her lodger Munro died in excruciating agony about four weeks after, and was buried by request of the prisoner, (as indeed Carl was also) in a great, hurry, reports not favourable, to her began to be openly made, and to such a length did the matter go, that both bodies were raised from their graves, and certain portions of the stomachs extracted for medical examination.   

It afterwards appeared from the evidence of the two surgeons at Carluke as well as from that of two highly experienced chemists in Edinburgh, to whom portions of the matter found in the stomachs has been transmitted, that minute quantities of arsenic, but quite sufficient to cause death, had been discovered in each of the stomachs. It was also proven that the prisoner had purchased arsenic at two different times, by the, hands of another person, for the ostensible purpose, as was alleged, of killing rats, by which she said her house was infested, although none of the witnesses on that spot had ever seen a rat about the premises. These purchases, be it observed, were made immediately preceding the death of Carl and Munro

Add to this it was proven that the prisoner mixed up the dose for the sick woman Carl herself and also made the porridge by which her lodger Munro was poisoned . With regard  to this poor highlander,it appeared that he came home on a Saturday, in as good health and high glee as ever he was in his life, looking forward ,no doubt to a happy meeting he was soon expecting to have with his friends in Skye, and that having partaken of some porridge.made by the prisoner, he was soon  after seized with dreadful thirst and pain,    In this state he continued for two days when she again tendered him mixture of rhubarb as she alleged; soon after which he expired in great agony. The prisoner owed Munro five pounds, which she could not pay, and this seemed to be the only causw she had for 'commiting so diabolical a crime.   About the period of the murder, Jeffray used many inefectual tricks to make the friends of the deceared believe that she had accounted on the money to the deceased, but it came clearly out that she had not paid a farthing of it.  

 With regard, to the murder of the old woman, Carl, the Depute-Advocate's theory was, that the prisoner had tried her hand on her to discover how much poison it would take to kill the young man, Munro but the villagers say the houses were very scarce at Carluke, and that the prisoner wished to make room for a more productive lodger.There were many other facts came out in detail, all tending to incriminate the prisoner, who after a trial of 18 hours, was found Guilty, and sentenced to be Executed this day, but recommended to mercy by the Jury for what reason, or on what grounds, was not mentioned.

On this recommendation the prisoner had great hopes until Thursday, when an answer to an application to Lord John Russell,from a few Quakers and other eccentric individuals in this City, was refused; These characters say it was a mighty piece of unheard-of cruelty to execute BURKE!    .

But we have no patience with them. their maukish ravings are an outrage on nature and common sense, how humane, and kind, and charitable 'they are to the cold blooded murderer while not a sigh is given tor the innocent butchered victims!

When the prisoner understood there was no hope, (Which had been so unproperly raised) she betook herself to her devotions, and has continued almost since,engaged in prayer.    The crowd this morning, around the scaffold was  large.    After some time spent in earnest prayer with the clergymen who assisted her; she gave the signal, then the drop fell, and in a minute she ceased to exist. The crowd then left the ground in good order.

Muir, Printer, Glasgow.  

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Created before 2012