An article from 26th January 1850.
This is an article about Margaret Lennox / Hamilton a young woman from Stonehouse. She has been charged with forgery and then murder by poisoning to try and cover up the forgery.
Although she was acquitted of the forgery she was convicted of the murder and sentenced to be hanged.
This article sought to poke holes in the conviction and to plead for clemency on account of the young lady leaving behind a three month old child, citing a similar case.
Unfortunately it was to no avail and she was hanged less than a week later.
On Thursday next, unless public opinion can, in the interim, be brought to bear with sufficient force upon the callous officialism of the Home Office to counteract its unfeeling obstinacy, another of those disgusting abominations which (hoping to veil the foulness of the deed under a lingual solecism) we call “executions,” instead of “strangulations,” will be perpetrated by the law, at Glasgow. A young woman, a little above twenty years of age, will be hanged to a beam to illustrate the sacredness of human life; and a yelling mob will be taught murder by seeing it done.
An esteemed correspondent has already called public observation to this case in our columns, and has placed in a strong and clear light its most important features; but something more may yet be said upon it, and for that purpose we now beg the further attention of our readers to the melancholy story.
It appears that Margaret Lennox, or Hamilton, a young woman born at Stonehouse, in Lanarkshire, was tried at the last Glasgow assizes for the double crime of forgery and murder. It was stated, that under circumstances of want she had forged a cheque upon a female relative, and that to avoid discovery and punishment she poisoned the person whom she had defrauded. Up to this moment she has denied the perpetration of either offence, and in addition to the fact, that the evidence of the murder was purely circumstantial, and by no means well made out, the singular circumstance appears that the Jury acquitted her of the forgery, and thus ignored the suggested motive for the assassination.
They further strongly recommended her to mercy, and left the jury-box under the firm persuasion that her life would be spared. Since then, several large and important meetings have been held in the neighbourhood, presided over by magistrates, and attended by thousands of persons, and at each of these assemblages appeals to the Crown were unanimously adopted.
Besides this, some twelve or thirteen petitions have been presented to the Home Secretary, all numerously signed, and all praying earnestly for a commutation of the sentence. And, added to all these circumstances, there is another which pleads more powerfully still, and which, we believe, only a Secretary of State could disregard - we mean the fact, that the unhappy creature who is about to be killed, in spite of the expressed wish of the Jury who tried her, is the mother of an infant only three months old, which has been torn from her, and which must now be cast upon the world, a sacrifice to the cruelty of a merciless and unregardful State.
These are the main facts of this distressing case; and, we believe, that not one of our readers would hesitate to affirm, apart from all abstract considerations as to the propriety of inflicting the punishment of death at all, that if ever there were an instance in which the mercy - prerogative of the Crown ought to be exercised, this is the case that demands it. Sir George Grey, however, is inexorable; and we have seen a letter from his Under-Secretary, which, couched in the usual terms of icy politeness, utterly declines to interfere between the law and its victim. The holocaust, therefore, will be offered - up as ordered, unless, in the meantime, some overpowering expression of popular opinion should be elicited.
And, now, having stated the reasons why this execution should not be allowed to take place, upon the merits of the case itself, we go on to place it side by side with another instance somewhat similar, where a different result accrued from popular interference, and where a far more atrocious criminal was saved. It will readily be supposed that we allude to the case of Charlotte Harris, at Taunton. The particulars of this affair will, doubtless, be fresh in the memory of our readers. Charlotte Harris undoubtedly committed a murder of the most foul, frightful, and premeditated character; but being about to become a mother, execution was stayed until after her delivery, and on that event taking place, it was intimated to her that her life would be spared.
Now, we want to know upon what principle of rational government, or of substantial justice, Margaret Lennox is to be killed, when Charlotte Harris was saved? The reason why the latter was spared, applies at least as strongly in the case of the furmer; for it is as barbarous and revolting an act to tear away from its mother child three months old, as one of three days, or three hours. And as to the justice of the case, is it not most plainly manifest, that to spare the greater and unquestionable criminal, while you destroy the lesser and the doubtful one, is a glaring evidence of unjust judgment, and an insult offered to the moral propriety and common sense of the community ? We emphatically warn the Home Secretary of the impolicy, as well as the wickedness of this uncertain, fickle, and capricious administration of the awful powers committed into his hands; and we plainly tell him, that such course will unfailingly bring both the Government and the law into contempt, and inevitably produce an increased harvest of misery and crime.
We conclude by calling upon Sir George Grey, earnestly and imploringly, to reconsider this sad matter, and to show towards the miserable creature for whom we have thus feebly pleaded, some portion of that mercy which he, at a far higher tribunal, will one day have to seek for himself. We invite him to reflect and ponder upon the solemn words of Him, who tells us that “with what measure we mete, it shall be meted to us again." ... See MoreSee Less
Does anyone remember the Energy potato crisp factory in Stonehouse? I can’t find out much about it on-line, almost wondering if I had imagined it. ... See MoreSee Less
And yet another from me. I now live in Reading and have lived in this area (and in Germany) since I finished uni. The first thing I remember when I came down south was how awful the ice cream was having been used to Ginestri’s and Petronelli’s ice cream. The other thing that struck me was just how bad the roads were down here compared to Scotland (probably not the same now). Would love to return to Scotland but family now all down South? ... See MoreSee Less