Executions · Newspaper clippings · Scotland

Man thrown from window during a robbery attempt gone wrong

From The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Western Countries and South Wales Adviser (Bristol, England)
Published June 18, 1853

In Glasgow, two men got drunk, were invited by some women back to a “low den” (a place of low moral values, including brothels, gambling houses, or seedy bars), where they were given more alcohol until nearly incapacitated. The owners of the low den then attempted to strip the men of their clothing and valuables, but one man was able to resist. When he threatened to inform police, he was brought to a third-story window and thrown out headfirst. He landed on his head and died immediately. His drinking partner was left unharmed.

Witnesses to the murder, including two boys ages 10 and 14 (also reported as 9 and 11), alerted police. Though the suspects fled, they were quickly captured. Two of those involved, Hans Smith McFarlane and Hellen Blackwood, were convicted of murder and sentenced to hang.

As the condemned were upon the gallows on August 11, 1853, McFarlane spoke to his partner in crime: “Helen Blackwood, before God and in the presence of these witnesses, I take you to be my wife. Do you consent?” Blackwood agreed. “Then before these witnesses I declare you to be what you have always been to me, a true and faithful wife and you die an honest woman.” The chaplain attending the execution contributed “Amen,” the trap door released, and the newlyweds were killed.

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