Precognition against James Shiels, Daniel Mitchell, James McNab, John Forrest for the crime of violation of sepulchres, 1823, National Archives Scotland Ref. AD14/23/61

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No residence in Stirling-shire

John Forrest, Student of Medicine, son of the late Dr John Forrest, Physician in Stirling & James McNab, Daniel Mitchel and James Shiels present prisoners in the Tolbooth of Stirling you are indicted and accused at the instance of Sir William Rae of St Catheri??? Baronet His Majesty's ????? for His Majesty's interest that albeit by the laws of this and of every other well governed sealer the violating of Sepulchres of the Dead and the Raising and Carrying away dead bodies from their graves is a crime of an ????? nature

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and seventy ???? ??? Yet true it is and of verity that you the said John Forrest, James McNab, Daniel Mitchel and James Shiels are all and each or one or other of you guilty of the said crime actors or actor or out and part. In so far as Mary Stevenson or Witherspoon lately residing in Cowan Street, Stirling and widow of the deceased Joseph Witherspoon ???? ??? having died upon the 15th or sometime in the month of Nov 1822, and having been buried upon the 19th or on one or other of the days of the said month of November, or ??? December thereafter in

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the churchyard or burying ground at Stirling, you the said John Forrest, James McNab, Daniel Mitchel and James Shiels did all and each or one or other of you late upon the night of the 23rd or early on the morning of the 24 day of the said month of November 1822 or on one or other of the day or nights of that month or of the said month of December thereafter, proceed to the said churchyard or burying ground, and did then another wickedly and feloniously raise and take out of the ground the dead body

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of the said Mary Stevenson or Witherspoon and did carry away the sane towards Edinburgh in a chaise or otherwise to the prosecutor unknown. And you the said John Forrest conscious of your guilt in the ???? did abscond and flee from justice, and you the said James McNab and Daniel Mitchel having been apprehended and brought ???? William Jaffray Esquire one of the Bailies of the Burgh of Stirling did each of you in his presence at Stirling upon the 4th day of December 1822 ???? and subscribe a declaration and you the said

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James Shiels having been apprehended and taken before the said Bailie William Jaffray did in his presence at Stirling ??? two several declarations one on the 3rd and one on the 5th day of December 1822, which were respectively subscribed in your presence by the said Baillie you having declared your ???? write; all which declarations being to to be used in evidence against each of you respectively by ??? the same well committed at your trial will be lodged in due time in the hands

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of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Justiciary before which you are to be tried, that you may have an opportunity of seeing the same at least time and place foresaid and the sepulchres of the dead were violated and the dead body of the said Mary Stevenson or Witherspoon was wickedly and feloniously raised and taken out of the grave in which it had been buried and was carried away, and you the said John Forrest, James McNab, Daniel Mitchel, and James Shiels are all and each or one or other of you guilty of the said crime

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actors or actor or act and part. All which

R. Dundas

List of Witnesses 1. William Jaffray Esquire now or lately one of the Bailies of the Burgh of Stirling 2. Daniel McVain now or lately one of the Town officers of Stirling residing 3. William Gowans now or lately one of the Town officers of Stirling and now residing 4. William Taylor now or lately clerk to William Galbraith and Alexander

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Littlejohn Junior Town Clerks of Stirling 5. Duncan Macnab now or lately apprentice to the said William Galbraith and Alexander Littlejohn Junior 6. The said Alexander Littlejohn Junior 7. John Williamson now or lately wright residing in Street, Stirling 8. William Anderson now or lately Chaise driver to John Gibb, Vintner in Stirling 9. James Allan now or lately ???? to the said John Gibb 10. Archibald Campbell now or lately Hostler? to the said John Gibb 11. John Martin now or lately shoemaker residing in Cowan Street Stirling 12. John Stevenson now or lately

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weaver residing in Cowan Street, Stirling 13. James Livingston now or lately weaver residing in Street, Stirling 14. Betty, or Elizabeth Gibson, or Shiels wife of James Shiels now or lately servant to James J???? Vintner in Stirling 15. James Gillespie now or lately Wright, residing in Stirling 16. Margaret Forkes or Sawers wife of the before designed James Sawers.

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(Stirling) Indictment H.M.A. vs John Forrest & others (Violating sepulchres)

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Sir I send herewith precogntion taken before our Magistrates and other papers conform to Inventory, relative to raising the dead Bodies Here. As young Mr Forrest was a Student in Edinburgh at the time, I wrote to Mr Scott Pror Fiscal, to secure him as soon as the thing was discovered. Mr Scott wrote me, that he had taken out a warrant agt him and Johnstone and that the officer intrusted with the execution of it suported that from the information he had secured he was satisfied he had left Town. That it was said he was in London and was to proceed to Paris. I have ??? reason to belive, that this information was correct. Nothing could be discovered as to Mr Forrest's companion who called himself Johnstone but which it is supposed was a fictitious name. James

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James Shiels, Daniel Mitchell & James McNab are in Jail here, having been committed till they find ??? ??? de judicio sisti under a penalty of £60 Sterling each. As this matter has created much sensation here, it is expect that some of the Prisoners will be brought to trial. If the evidence will be considered sufficient to convict McNab he seems to the the fittist object of punishment. I presume some of the Prisoners will fall to be made witnessess.

I am Sir Your most obed Servt Robert Sconce P.F. Stirling

Stirling 17th July 1823

It was favored with yours of the 11th currn inclosing Justiciary warrant agt Davidson & Fraser.

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Fiscal Stilring rec'd 18 Febry 1823 Precof: agt McNab Shields & Mitchel Raisg the dead Adam Rolland Esq W.S. Recd Feby 20 Agent for the Crown

Indict Shields to be used as a withness The ??? alluded to in page 4 ???? to be if ???? finalised