An Account of the Life and Transactions of Mary M'Kinnon

Author(s): Anonymous


An account of the Life and Transactions of Mary M'Kinnon.
Who was executed at Edinburh for Murder, on Wednesday 16th April, 1823, giving
a particular account of her Birth and Parentage, how she ran away at 15 years of age
with an officer in the army, on the very night her mother was buried, her Adventures in Germany,
England, Scotland, Ireland, her residence in Glasgow, & her proceeding to Edinburgh,
where she made her final exit on the gallows; the whole related by herself whilst under
sentence of death, and copied from the Edinburgh Observer.
MARY MACKINNON was born in Ireland,
about 32 years since; she was an
army child. When she attained the age of 6
years, her mother fell into a state of ill health,
from which she never recovered, but lingered
on till at last she sunk into the grave, when
her daughter had reached the 15th year of her
age. On her trial it was stated that her father
was quarter-master M'Kinnon of the 79th regiment.
This individual on seeing the report
of the evidence, immediately went to Edinburgh,
and on seeing her in prison he positively
denied that this unfortunate woman was at
all connected with him. He did not deny his
having a daughter of the same name, but produced
documents to prove that she died many
years ago. She however strongly asserted
that this person was her father, and was supported
in her allegation by Capt. Brown.
Mary was about fifteen years of age at the
time of her mother's death. This event happened
at Dantrae, where her father was then
quartered with his regiment. On the evening
of her mother's funeral, some officers of the
same regiment went to call on her father, to
see if their presence might afford any consolation
for the affliction which they expected to
witness. He was very much intoxicated; his
daughterer was in the same room and a young
officer wass paying her very particular attention.
What ever feelings her father may have had,
on reflecting on the ceremony which had passed
in the course of the morning, a girl of 15 must
have felt some symptoms of dejection on remembering
that she was seperated for ever from
her mother. On observing the state of her
father, she must have perceived that she was
alone in the world — without a friend — and, if
not without a parent — at least without one on
whose protection she could depend: Doubtless,
by some deceitful and insinuating conduct
the young officer prevailed on her that evening,
the very evening when her mother was
consigned to the grave, to commit the offence
which entails inexpiable offence.
Soon after she had been thus treacherously
betrayed, the regiment went to England, and
at Faversham, as she stated, her father united
himself to a second wife. About a year after
her mother's death, her father quitted the regiment,
when the family went to reside at
Glasgow. She was now separated from the
Officer who had laid the foundation of all her
misfortune. Soon after she arrived at Glasgow,
she contracted new acquanitances, who
were not more tender of her reputation than
the officer who visited her on the evening of
her mother's funeral.
From hence she went to Gottenburgh with
a naval officer, Lient. C—. She soon returned
to Scotland, and about the year 1812
she took a house in Edinburgh, where she permitted
the practice of vice in others which she
had never been instructed to restrain in herself.

Some time before the fatal event for which
she was put upon her trial, she was at the
Theatre in a state of inebriety, when a male
acquantance of her's did, or said something to
offend her. She said, on that occasion, she
prayed more fervently than she had ever prayed
in her life; — the tenor of her prayer was,
that it ever she spoke to that person again, she
might be dissected on Dr. Monro's table. The
horror of this imprecation did not occur to her
at the time. She afterwards spoke to that person;
and she said the recollection of this circumstance
flashed across her mind when she,
heard her sentence. She related this anecdote
once or twice with some slight variation. The
gentleman to whom this was told, took occasion
to instruct her, that it God hears and
answers prayers of this kind in so remarkable
a manner, he would also hear and answer a
prayer for pardon and repentance. One other
instanee of this description has come to our
notice, and which we feeI it necessary to record
for more reasons than one. She expected
to give birth to a child, whose father was
the naval officer before mentioned She was
far advanced towards the period when these
expectations were to be realised. The ship in
which the officer was, lay then in the Forth.
He had refused to land, under the apprehension
that the expected infant might be affiliated
to him, she went to the Calton-Hill, and
observing the vessel under weigh, she lay down
on her face, and thew herself into so much
agitation as to produce an abortion. She had
visited St. Helena and the East Indies.
The crowd assembled at her execution was
estimated at 20,000, amongst whom there was
a vast number of females who pursue her own
unhallowed trade. She solemnly protested her
innocence of the crime for which she suffered,
and accused one of the women of her house
named M‘Donald, whom she saw take a skewer
from a table, and make a push at deceased.
She almost at the last moment confessed that her
name was not M'Kinnon but M'Innes, and,
that her father was a private in the 91at regt.
but she had been mistaken for the daughter of
quarter-master, and found it her interest to
keep up the deception.
John Muir, Printer. Princes Street


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An Account of the Life and Transactions of Mary M'Kinnon. 2024. In The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 24 May 2024, from

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An Account of the Life and Transactions of Mary M'Kinnon

Document Information

Document ID 29
Title An Account of the Life and Transactions of Mary M'Kinnon
Year group 1800-1850
Genre Expository prose
Year of publication 1823
Wordcount 998

Author information: Anonymous

Author ID 496
Surname Anonymous