The execution of Baird and Hardie – a job done

William Galbraith comes across as a cold-hearted individual in this letter, describing his game of chess and fretting about legal documents in between the discussion of the final arrangments for the execution. The decapitator is described as having arrived at Stilring and is obviously concerned for his safety as he has asked for material to be bought so that he may cover his face so that he may not be recognised after the event. Galbraith also makes reference to the scandal current at the time relating to Queen Caroline, the wife of George II. You can read more about this controversial Royal figure here.

William Galbraith in Edinburgh to Alexander Littlejohn, 5th September 1820

Dear Littlejohn

I intended to have written you by the evening mail but we dined at Mr Broughton’s, who introduced chess after tea, which drove it quite out of my mind until after Post hours. By the time you receive this the Decapitator will have arrived at Stirling with Pollock. I tuck inside tickets for them this evening in the Night Mail. Of course in paying the expences nothing is to be allowed them further. I also at the decapitator’s  request, whom I saw in Captain Brown’s last night bought a yard of crape for his face, which at Pollock’s desire I left for him at the Police Office this morning.

Christy & I go to Norton tomorrow, & intend going home by the Steam Boat on Saturday If your Mother has any thing to write Christy, let her do so to the care of Stuart so as to reach this on Friday, and it will be got when we come from Norton. Be so good as tell Willie McIntosh to send me in a parcel, the three Dispositions by Gartmore to Mr Dunlop etc by first coach, along with the Petition for excambion to be registered by Mr Dunlop if Mr Graham has returned it. Give him also the letter that accompanies this & let him read it to Mr Lyle if he be not in on Tuesday. Or when let him make a copy of the whole and send the copy by the Callander Post (thro’ the Office) to Mr Lyle tomorrow evening.

There seems a pretty general belief here that the Queen will get off none however from the character of the exchanges & the manner of bringing them forward, than from a crowd of belief then there is truth in what they say.


Wm Galbraith

Edin. Tuesday

5 Sept. 1820