Monthly Archives: June 2013

Elshender: A Tale of a Poor Man


(Continued from our last.)


The Court met at nine o’clock, and with closed doors proceeded to the trial of John xxxxxx or xxxxx, charged with several assaults on female children in Pollockshaws, with a felonious intent. He pleaded guilty to two of the charges, and, after a very serious admonition from Lord Cockburn, was sentenced to fourteen years transportation.

The next trial, also with shut doors, was that of Henry xxxxxxx, or xxxxxxx, charged with a similar crime, committed in Lanark. After a long trial, the Jury, by a majority, found the principal charge not proven, but the charge of assault, with the felonious intent, proven. Sentence delayed. These two trials lasted until two o’clock.

Robert xxxxxxxxxxx and James xxxxxxxxx were then placed at the bar, charged with assault and robbery, in so far as, on the evening of the 1st, or morning of 2d July last, they assaulted violently and feloniously Robert xxxxxx, a dealer in pigs, while on the road leading from the village of Forth to Carnwath, and after pulling him from the tram of his cart, struck him with a bludgeon on the head and other parts of his body, and otherwise maltreated him, and robbed him of a purse containing £14 in notes, and upwards of £2 in silver. The prisoners pleaded not guilty. Messrs. Alex. McNeil and Maxwell, for the prisoners, took an objection to the relevancy of the indictment, on the ground of some omission in the style, but it was overruled. The trial then proceeded. From the statement of [Robert] xxxxxx it appeared that he had come from Lockerbie to go to Carnwath fair with pigs, and while at Forth, on his way, he sold several pigs, and got the money, and when he got it he put it in his purse. He did so on several occasions, and once or twice in the inn, before several persons, of whom the prisoner [James] xxxxxxxxx was one. That while in the inn a boy came to ask if he was to stop in Forth all night; and his answer was, that he was going to Carnwath. That while on his way he was attacked by two men, who committed the assault and robbery, and thereafter went towards Forth. That the witness, on their leaving him, rode back to Forth, but could not see the parties who had attacked and robbed him. He described the dress of the men who robbed him, and identified [James] xxxxxxxxx as the one who first struck him. He was so severely injured that he was laid up thirteen days at Lanark. From the examination of [Robert] xxxxxx himself, and a great number of other witnesses, it appeared that both [James] xxxxxxxxx and [Robert] xxxxxxxxxxx had been in Forth on the night in question, and that [Robert] xxxxxx had mentioned before several people his intention to go to Carnwath that night. That [James] xxxxxxxxx had met a boy on the street, and sent him in to inquire whether [Robert] xxxxxx was going to Carnwath that night; and when the answer was returned that [Robert] xxxxxx was not quite sure, [James] xxxxxxxxx gave a nod. That about ten o’clock [James] xxxxxxxxx was seen going in the direction of his own house, in one kind of dress, and at eleven o’clock going towards the toll from his own house in a different dress. That about six o’clock next morning [James] xxxxxxxxx came to a Mrs. Gray’s, requesting a female who lived there to keep charge of his wife (who was of unsound mind) while he went to Carnwath to apply to the heritors about her; and requesting her to wash his coat, which he had left in steep. That he at the same time told Mrs. Gray and other persons in the house that [Robert] xxxxxx had been knocked down and robbed of £16 on the Carnwath road. That between twelve and two o’clock two persons came to the door of a house in the same entry with Mrs. Gray, and knocked up the baker who resides there, one of the voices being supposed by a lodger of Mrs. Gray’s to be [James] xxxxxxxxx’s, and that one of the persons went in. That on [Robert] xxxxxx’s calling at the baker’s between four and five that morning, the baker jumped out of bed with his clothes on, and laughed at [Robert] xxxxxx’s statement. That at five o’clock [James] xxxxxxxxx was in bed in his own house with his clothes on. That there were stains of blood on his coat when the woman washed it, and also on the wrists of a shirt found beyond a chest, and which [James] xxxxxxxxx had taken off that morning. That [Robert] xxxxxxxxxxx had been in [James] xxxxxxxxx’s house at eight o’clock in the evening. That therefore he was present at the house of his mother-in-law between ten and eleven o’clock, about which time he is seen going towards the road leading to the toll-bar. Nothing more is heard of [Robert] xxxxxxxxxxx till he is found the following day at a place on the way to Edinburgh called Causewayend, treating the hostlers. After this he escapes notice till apprehended in [James] xxxxxxxxx’s company at Hallow Fair, in November last. [James] xxxxxxxxx having left his house at Forth on the morning of the fair at Carnwath, is apprehended there, and lodged in the school-house, from whence he escapes; but is subsequently apprehended and lodged in Lanark jail. From this he again escapes, and is only found along with [Robert] xxxxxxxxxxx at Hallow Fair. It was also proved that parties who saw [James] xxxxxxxxx apprehended at Carnwath fair pointed him out as an individual who had offered to buy a cow that day at £11. A variety of minor circumstances were adduced; and after the examination of two or three witnesses as to the poaching habits of [James] xxxxxxxxx, and the likelihood, therefore, of his having blood on his clothes, the Advocate-Depute stated that he gave up the case as against [Robert] xxxxxxxxxxx, and proceeded to state his case against [James] xxxxxxxxx, craving a verdict against him of guilty. Mr A. McNeill then made a long speech in favour of [James] xxxxxxxxx, after which the Jury were addressed by Lord Medwyn. At four o’clock the Jury returned a verdict of not proven in the case of [Robert] xxxxxxxxxxx, who was dismissed from the bar, and guilty in the case of [James] xxxxxxxxx: and the libel being restricted, he was sentenced to transportation for life.

The court broke up at a quarter past four o’clock in the morning, to meet again at nine o’clock.

[Robert] xxxxxxxxxxx was immediately apprehended on a new warrant.


The Court opened…

(Glasgow Courier, 9th January 1841)

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