Trial papers relating to Daniel Mitchell, James McNab, John Forrest for the crime of violation of sepulchres at Church yard, Stirling, 19 Apr 1823, National Archives Scotland Ref. JC26/1823/15

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Declaration of James McNab 4th December 1822

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At Stirling, the Fourth day of December, Eighteen Hundred and twenty two.

In presence of Bailie William Jaffray, compeared James McNab, Gravedigger of Stirling, charged ??? complanit at the instance of the Fiscal of Court, with being concerned in lifting and carrying away dead bodies from the church yard of Stirling, and particularly for lifting and carrying away the body of one Mary Witherspoon; and the complanit having ??? over to him and he examined thereon he declares - That there was never a dead body lifted from Stirling Churchyard to his knowledge. That he knows Mr John Forrest, son of the late Dr. Forrest. That about two months ago Mr. Forrest spoke to him about getting dead bodies lifted but the declarent declined to have any thing to do with the business. The Mr Forrest said he though the declarent might let him get one or two, and that he

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the declarent would get Four Guineas for each, but as the declarent was positive against it they parted. That in a week or two after Mr Forrest again applied to him and asked if he could get some person to assist since he would not meddle with the business himself but the declarent said he would neither ask any person nor do it himself. That some time after Mr Forrest came and said he had got two men to do the business if the declarent would let them in to the church yard, which the declarent refused to do. That after this the declarent told this to Mr Thomas Balfour, Merchant in Stirling, who said he ought not to have anything to do with him, but that it would be a pity to expose the young man as he was perhaps only trying the declarent. That soon after Mr Forrest again came to him and got him to come out of his house to the street in the ???? where he introduced him to a young genteel looking

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lookinh man who he said would do the business if he would only let him into the Church Yard, and this yound man said he had been in the business for six? years and never had been detected. But the declarent would agree to nothing and they separated. That the next time he saw Mr Forrest he said to the declarent that ??? man had left Stirling and had gone to another part of the Country, the name of which the declarent forgets, ???? was a great ??? and was afraid to stay in Stirling as it was he who had ??? of the Radicals heads. But while the young man was in Stirling the declarent saw him in the Church yard one day. That about three weeks ago ??? the night after a person of the name of William Stevenson was buried Mr Forrest came to the declarents house about nine o'clock along with three men two

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two of whom the declarent knew being Daniel Mitchell and James Shiels, both servants to James Sawers and the third was a smart young man with a cap on. And Mr Forrest wished to get the keys of the Churchyard in order to raise the body of William Stevenson and almost forced the declarent to go with them but he positively refused and they were very angry with him. And Mitchell said if the declarent would not go neither would he. That the declarent looked at the grave next day and is perfectly sure t was not touched. That on a Saturday night about one o'clock; but whether it was Saturday was eight days or Saturday was a fortnight he cannot be sure, Mr Forrest came to his house and said there was a person ??? him down streets and desired him to go along with him, which the declarent did. and went to the house of James Shiels aforesaid where he found a young gentleman in a white great coat. That this gentleman

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said why don't you assist Mr Forrest in this business It would make ??????. That they asked the delcarent if any person had been buried that week and the declarent said he could not recollect, upon which Mr Shiels who was present mentioned several particularly one from Cowan Street who had been buried the beginning of the week and her name was Wotherspoon. And the declarent then recollected that such was the case. That the declarent all along refused to go to the Church yard with them. That they might ask him to point out the Grave to them, but if they did so he is sure he refused to do so. That Shiels himself and Daniel Mitchell were in the house as well as the two Gentlemen but he does not know whether they were there all the time. And the declarent was there only a short time himself and

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he left them and went home where he went to bed and saw none of these people that night. That he did not rise out of his bed until eight o'clock of the Sunday morning. That he did not go up to the Hospital Close that night nor to the Church yard gate nor to the Lady Hill. That when he saw Mr Forrest in Shiels' House he had on a Tartan cloke. That on the Sunday ???? when he went to ring the Church Bells at eleven o'clock he saw a number of people looking at Mary Wotherspoon's grave and it appeared to be below the surface some inches, but he could have told better whether it had been opened if he had looked at it in the morning before the people trampled on it. That after the Bells were rung and the Church service begun he went and made

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made up the grave and his reason for doing so was that people make reflections on him when they see graves in such a state and it did not take above five minutes to put it right. That if the declarent had known that the lady had been taken away and had wished to conceal it he could easily have put the Grave to rights in the morning before any person came to ???. That this Sunday that he found the Grave in this state was Sunday eight days and he knows that Mary Wotherspoon was buried on the Tuesday before. That he got directions for digging the grave from James Livingstone the Officer of the West Church her nephew, and it was in one of his ??? she was buried and he Livingstone was at the funeral. That when he saw the state of the grave next Sunday morning as aforesaid the impression on his mind

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mind was that it had been opened but he could not be sure as Mr Forrest had always desisted from muddling with the graves when the declarent refused in former occassions to assist him, and the declarent thought it might perhaps have been owing to the soft weather that the grave had fallen in. That yesterday morning he was sent for to the Church Yard by Baili Jaffray where he found James Livingstone, Deacon John Stevenson, weaver and John Martin shoemaker in Cowan Street opening the grave which he assisted them to do. That they found one of the ropes of the Coffin up through the earth near the surface, which convinced the declarent that somethin had been wrong. That they afterwards dug down to the Coffin which they found had been broken open and the body carried off but the dead clothes had been thrown back into it. That on seeing

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seeing this the declarent suspected that the body had been carried away by Mr Forrest and his party. That no other person ever applied to the declarent to get dead bodies raised except Mr Forrest and his associate before mentioned. And the declarent was never accessory in lifting any dead bodies nor does he think any were ever raised from Stirling Churchyard except Mary Wotherspoons. And all this he declares to be truth. And the foregoing declaration consisting of this and eight preceding pages having been read over to him he adheres thereto and admits that the same was freely and voluntarily emitted and fairly taken down. And has subscribed the same place and date first before written along with that Bailie Examinator before these witnesses Alexander Littlejohn Junior, on of the Town Clerks of Stirling and William Gowans one of the Town Officers of Stirling.

james McNab William Jaffrey

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Declaration of Daniel Mitchell 4th December 1822

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Declaration of Daniel Mitchell Servant to James Sawers Changekeeper in Stirling

At Stirling the fourth fourth day of December, Eighteen hundred and twenty two years. In presence of Bailie William Jaffray compeared the said David Mitchell, and the Complaint at the Instance of the Procurator Fiscal of Court of this date chargin him and others with being guilty of raising and carrying away dead bodies from the Church Yard of Stirling and particularly the corpse of a Mary Wotherspoon having been read over to him and he examined thereon he declares that about six weeks ago, Mr John Forrest, Student of Medicine, son of the late Dr John Forrest, Physician in Stirling, and James McNab, Gravedigger of Stirling, came to the declarents house and asked him to come out, which he did and went with them to the house

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house of John Sawers changekeeper in Baker Street, where he found James Shiels, Servant to James Sawers Vintner in Stirling, and Mr Forrest proposed to the declarent to assist him in lifting dead bodies from the Church Yard of Stirling and said that a great deal of money would be made by it. He spoke of three or four Guineas for each but the declarent at that had refused to have any thing to do with the business, and so did McNab, but Shiels appeared to be quite willing. That nothing more was done at that time but Mr Forrest frequently afterwards asked the declarent to agree to assist him, but which the declarent always refused to do until the night of Saturday was eight days being the Twenty third day of November last when Mr Forrest sent for him to the house of the said James Shiels where the declarent

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unluckily went and found there Mr Forrest, Shiels himself and another person, a tallish man with a great white coat with a number of capes or ???? and whom he the declarent afterwards heard called Mr Johnston from Edinburgh. And Shiels's wife was going and coming along? the house. That the declarent got a great deal of whiskey and Mr Forrest asked him to go with them to the church yard to assist in getting a dead body lifted, which the declarent agreed to do, and went up towards the Church Yard and the length of the Hospital Close. But before doing so he went home not wishing to go about the business, but Mr Forrest came to his hous and got him to go. That Mr Forrest also went to McNab's house and got him out and he joined them in the Hospital Close. That Mr Forrest then

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then wanted McNab to open the Gate of the Churchyard, which he refused to do, whereupon the party, consisting of Mr Forrest, Mr Johnston, McNab, Shiels & the declarent went round by the Back Walk to the low part of the Churchyard wall at the Lady's Hill, and then Mr Johnston offered McNab half a guinea to go over the wall with them, but he would not go neither would the declarent. And they two came away and went home leaving the other three on the outside of the Church yard dyke. That Shiels had a sack with something in it but whether it was a shovel or what it was the declarent cannot say. That he did not assist in bringing any corpse from the Church yard nor did he see any brought away. That before he went up to the Church yard that night Mr Johnston gave him a pound note which being intoxicated he accepted at the time

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time but afterwards offered back to Mr Johnston, who refused to take it, and next morning he gave the half of it to Shiels who came drunk asking the half of it, and the declarent went to Peter Blairs & got the note changed and gave Shiels the half of the money accordingly. That when the party were up at the Church yard as aforesaid it was before ten o'clock at night so far as the declarent can remember, but he was drunk at the time and cannot be positive. And all this he declared to be truth. And has subscribed this declaration after the same was read over to him and admitted by him to have been freely emitted and fairly taken down, at place and date first above written before these witnesses Alexander Littlejohn Junior, one of the Town Clerks of Stirling, and William Gowans, one of the Town Officers of Stirling one word in the first page having been previously deleted. Daniel Mitchell

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Stirling Spring Circuit 1823

against James McNab and Daniel Mitchell of Criminal Letters His Majest's Advocate agt Forrest McNab and Mitchell, 31st March 1823

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Upon the Second day of April Eighteen Hundred and twenty three years by virtue of Criminal Letters dated and signeted the seventeenth day of March last raised at the instance of Sir William Rae of St Catherines Baronet His Majesty's advocate for His Majesty's interest. Against John Forrest Student of Medicine son of the late Dr John Forrest Physician in Stirling now or lately residing in the house of Mr David Forrest Solicitor Supreme Courts Dublin Street Edinburgh, and James McNab and Daniel Mitchell present prisoners in the tolbooth in Stirling I Donald Anderson ??? In the High Court of Justiciary passed and in His Majesty's name and authority lawfully commanded and charged the said John Forrest to Compear before the Lord Justice General Lord Justice Clerk and Lords Commissioners of Justiciary in a Circuit Court of Justiciary to be holden by them or any one or more of their number within the Criminal Court house of Stirling upon the nineteenth day of April current in the hour of cause (ten o'clock forenoon) there

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there to underlie the Law for the crime of violating the sepulchres of the dead, and the raising and carrying away of dead bodies from their graves as specified in the said Criminal Letters and that under the pains? contained in the Acts of Parliament. This I did conform to the said Criminal Letters in all points by leaving a full double thereof to the Will? with a list of the witnesses names and designations who are to be adduced against him and a list of the ??? names and designations who are to pass upon his assige with a just Copy of citation to the effect foresaid there to subjoined for the said John Forrest within his dwelling place in Dublin Street of Edinburgh as aforesaid with a servant to be given to him because I could not find himself personally. And sicklike [likewise] upon the said second day of April and year aforesaid I passed to the market crop Edinburgh, being the head Burgh of the Sheriffdom thereof within which Sheriffdom the said John Forrest lives and resides and thereat after my crying of three several

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several ??? making open proclamation and public reading of the said Criminal Letters I in name and authority aforesaid lawfully commanded and charged the said John Forrest to compear before the said Lords day and place before mentioned and this I did by affixing and leaving a full double of said Criminal Letters to the Will with a list of the witnesses names and designations who are to be adduced against him and a list of the ???? names and disignations who are to pass upon his ??? with a just Copy of citation to the effect foresaid thereto subjoined for the said John Forrest at and upon the said Market Crop of Edinburgh and that after using the solemnities aforesaid because I could not find himself personally. All which Copies were duly signed by me on each page and the said Copies of Citation did bear the date thereof and contained the date and signeting of said Criminal Letters with the names and designations of Robert Anderson and John Lammond both Residenters in

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in Edinburgh Witnesses present at the haill premises and hereto with me subscribing on this and the three proceeding pages. Witnesses also in the marginal note on the third page and also on the first page corrected before signing. Robert Anderson Witness John Lamond Witness

Stirling Spring Circ. 1823 Execution of Criminal Letters The Lord Advocate to Forrest of his domicile and the Mar- ket Crop 1823 2d Apr: 1823

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Criminal Letters of John Forrest Violating sepulchres Stirling Spring Circuit 1823


Criminal Letters Lord Advocate agt John Forrest James McNab & Daniel Mitchell

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George the Fourth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland King Defender of the Faith& Macers? of our Court of Justiciary, Messengers at arms our Sheriffs in that part conjunctly and severally specially constituted, Greeting, Whereas it is humbly meant and complained to us by our Right Trusty Sir William Rae of St Catherines Baronet, our advocate for our interest upon John Forrest student of Medecine, son of the late Dr. John Forrest physician in Stirling now or lately residing in the house of Mr David Forrest Solicitor Supreme

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Supremet Courts, Dubline Street, Edinburgh, and James McNab and Daniel Mitchell present prisoners in the Tolbooth of Stirling. That albeit by the laws of this and of every other well governed realm the violating the supulchres of the dead & the raising and carrying away dead bodies from their graves, is a crime of an heinous nature and severely punishable. Yet true it is and of verity that the said John Forrest James McNab and Daniel Mitchell are all and each or one or other of them guilty of the said crime actors or actor or act and part. In so far

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far as Mary Stevenson or Wotherspoon, lately residing in Cowan Street Stirling & widow of the deceased Joseph Wotherspoon mason, having died upon the fifteenth or sometime in the month of November Eighteen hundred and twenty two and having been buried upon the nineteenth or on one or other of the days of the said month of November, or of December thereafter, in the church yard or burying ground at Stirling. The said John Forrest James McNab and Daniel Mitchell did all and each or one or other of them later upon the night of the twenty third or early on

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on the morning of the twenty fourth days of the said month of November Eighteen hundred & twenty two, or on one or other of the days or nights of that month, or of the said month of December thereafter, proceed to the said church yard or burying ground and did then & there wickedly and feloniously raise, and take out of the grave the dead body of the said Mary Stevenson or Wotherspoon, and did carry away the same towards Edinburgh in a chaise or otherwise to the prosecutor unknown, and the said John Forrest conscious of his guilt

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guilt in the premises did abscond and flee from justice, and the said James McNab & Daniel Mitchell having been apprehended and brought before William Jaffray Esquire one of the Baillies of the Burgh of Stirling did each of them in his presence at Stirling upon the fourth day of December Eighteen hundred & twenty two emit and subscribe a declaration both of which being to be used in evidence against each of them respectively by whom the same was emitted at their trial, will be lodged in due time in the hands of the clerk of the circuit court of Justiciary before

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before which they are to be tried. That they may have an opportunity of seeing the same. At least time and place foresaid the sepulchres of the dead were violated, and the dead body of the said Mary Stevenson or Wotherspoon was wickedly and feloniously raised and taken out of the grave in which it had been buried, and was carried away, and the said John Forrest, James McNab, and Daniel Mitchelll, are all and each or one or other of them guilty of the said crime actors or actor or act and part. All which or part thereof being found proven

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proven by the verdict of an ????? before the Lord Justice General Lord Justice Clerk & Lords Commissioners of Justiciary in a circuit court of Justiciary to be holden by them or any one or more of their number within the Criminal Court House of Stirling upon the nineteenth day of april in this present year Eighteen hundred & twenty three the said John Forrest, James McNab, and Daniel Mitchell ought to be punished withthe pains of the law to deter others from committing the like crime in all time coming. Our will is herefore give charge

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charge you that on sight hereof ye pass and in our name and authority lawfully command and charge the said John Forrest, James McNab & Daniel Mitchell to compear and to come & fiund sufficient caution & srety acted in the Books of Adjournal, that they shall compear before the Lord Justic General, the Lord Justice Clerk and Lords Commissioners of Justiciary to be holden by them or any one or more of their number within the criminal court house of Stirling upon the said nineteenth day of April Eighteen hundred & twenty three in the hour

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hour of cause (ten o'clock forenoon) there to underlye the law for the crime above mentioned, and that under the pains contained in the acts of parliament and that ye charge them personally if they can be apprehended, and failing thereof at their dwelling places, and by open proclamation at the market cross of the head burgh of the shire stewartry or other juridiction where they dwell to come & find the said caution & surety acted in manner foresaid within six days next after they are charged by you thereto, under the pain of rebellion and putting of them to the horn, wherein if they fail the said six days ebing elapsed and

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and the said caution & surety not found nor any intimation made by them to you of the finding thereof, that incontinent thereafter ye denounce them our rebels, put them to our horn, & escheat and inbring all their moveable goods & gear to our use for their contempt & disobedience and that ye within fifteen days thereafter cause registrate these our letters with the executors thereof in the books of adjournal conform to the Act of Parliament and if they come and find the said caution and surety acted in manner foresaid intimation being always made by them to you of the finding thereof that

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that ye summon an assize hereto not exceeding the number forty five persons, together with such witnesses as best know the verity of the premisses, whose names shall be given to you in a list subscribed by the said complainer. All to compear before our said Lords day and place foresaid, in the hour of cause. The said persons of inquest to pass upon the assize of the said john Forrest, James McNab & Daniel Mitchell and the said witnesses to bear leal and southeast witnessing in so far as they know or shall be asked at them about the said John Forrest James McNab

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McNab and Daniel Mitchell their guiltiness of the crime libelle. The assizer and witness under the pain of one hundred merks Scots. According to Justice, as ye will answer to us thereupon. The which to do we commit to you full power by these our letters delivering them by you duly executed and indorsed against to the bearer. Given under our Signet at Edinburgh the seventeenth day of March in the fourth year of our reign Eighteen hundred and tweenty three. Et deliberatione dominorum commissionarionem Justiciarice J A Anderson