The History of Leith

November 20, 2006

Military executions on Leith Links

From time to time military executions have taken place and two examples are given here.

The first was a drummer who was shot on the 23rd of February 1686 by sentence of court martial for having it is alleged said “had it in his heart to run his sword through any Papist” on the occasion when the foot guards and other troops under General Dalzell and the Earl of Linlithgow were under arms to quell the famous “Anti-Popish Riot” made by the students of the University.

One of the last instances was in 1754 when deserters, John Ramsbottom and James Burgess, from General the James Stuarts regiment were escorted from Edinburgh Castle to Leith links to be shot. The former was shot but the latter was pardoned. The reason being was when he was told to kneel and the firing party was drawn up in readiness. The shock was so much that he fainted and he lay motionless for some time.

However the lesson wasn’t learnt as the Scot Magazine reported over a year later that he was convicted of theft and received a thousand lashes on parade at Edinburgh Castle and drummed out of the regiment with a rope around his neck.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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