Execution of Mrs M'Kinnon, Who was Executed at Edinburgh
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Who was Executed at Edinburg on Wednesday morning the
16th April, 1823, in the presence of 30,000 spectators, for the
Murder of Mr. Wm. Howat, and her body given for dissection;
with an account of her Dress, Behaviour, and Dying
Declaration on the scaffold.
Edinburgh, April 16 - This day Mrs. M'KINNON was Executed here pursuant to
her sentence, for the Murder of Mr. Wm. Howat, a writer's clerk, by stabbing him
with a knife. It appeared that Mrs. M'Kinnon kept an infamous house on the South
Bridge, and that Howat, along with some companions on the evening of the 18th
of February last, went to her house intoxicated, and after drinking some time a
squabble took place betwixt them and some of the girls who lodged in her house.
Mrs. M'Kinnon was absent at the commencement of the affray, but she soon arrived,
and flying into a passion, said "Give me a knife and I will soon settle the b-,"
she then deliberately went to a knife-case, and seized a knife, with which she gave
Howat a mortal wound in the breast, of which he died several days after in the Infirmary.
Her trial lasted 18 hours, and excited the greatest interest, and till near
the end, she had great hopes that it would prove favourable to her, but when she
heard the verdict, she exclaimed, "Lord have mercy on me," and immediately
Mrs. M'Kinnon has conducted herself since her trial with the greatest propriety,
At first, her mental agony was so excessive, that she refused sustenance of every
kind, until the evening of the following Sunday; but since then she acquired more
fortitude, and on being informed that her petition for mercy could not be complied
with, she heard final doom with the greatest composure. Early on Monday morning
she was removed from the Calton hill Jail to the Lock-up-house; she appeared very
dejected, and was supported on the arm of an old woman.
About half-past eight o'clock she left the Lock-up-house, attended by the Magistrates,
Officers, and the Rev. Mr. Porteous, the chaplain of the prison, and several
other pious Gentlemen, and proceeded with a slow and feeble step to the head of
Libberton's Wynd, where the scaffold was erected. On her arrival at the fatal spot
she appeared greatly agitated, and a general sigh of sorrow pervaded the immense
multitude who had assembled to witness her melancholy end.
During the time that the awful preparations were going on, she was supported by
two of the attendants; she acknowledged the justness of her punishment, and was
truly sorry for the crime which she had committed; and as she could not be forgiven
by men, she Trusted in the mercy of Him who hath said, "He that sincerely repenteth
shall be freely forgiven." The fatal cord being adjusted, a short but impressive
prayer was pronounced in which she seemed ferverently to join; about five minutes
before nine o'clock this unhappy victim of passion expiated with her life, the outrage
which she had committed on the laws of God, and her country - an awful warning
to the dissipiated of the one sex, and the vicious of the other. After she had hung
the usual time. her body was taken down and conveyed to the College for dissection.
Mrs. M'Kinnon was elegantly dressed in a black silk gown, trimmed with white
lace at the bottom, silk stockings, and white slippers. She was betwixt 35 and 40
years of age, good looking, and rather corpulent. Her father at one time was quarter
master of the 79th regiment of foot. At a very early age she was debauched
by an officer in the army, under very atrocious circumstances; and after that event her
family thrust her from under their roof, and totally abandoned her, to which circumstance
may be attributed her after course of profligate life.
The crowd assembled on this lamentable occasion, was unusually great; at an early
hour the High Street was crowded, and all the windows trims of houses, and every
elevated place within view of the fatal spot was filled with spectators, so that it is
calculated that not less than 30,000 people were present.
John Muir, Printer, Glasgow.
Cite this Document
Execution of Mrs M'Kinnon, Who was Executed at Edinburgh. 2023. In The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved March 2023, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=28.
"Execution of Mrs M'Kinnon, Who was Executed at Edinburgh." The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2023. Web. March 2023. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=28.
The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing, s.v., "Execution of Mrs M'Kinnon, Who was Executed at Edinburgh," accessed March 2023, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/cmsw/document/?documentid=28.
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