The History of Leith

April 27, 2011

Peter Heaman and Francois Gauticz

Constitution Street whicj lies parallel to and eastward of the Kirkgate nearly in a line with the eastern face of the ancient fortifications, is about 2,500 feet in length, and soon after its formation was the scene of the last execution within what is termed the ” flood-mark.” The doomed prisoners were two foreign seamen, whose crime and sentence
excited much interest at the time,
Peter Heaman and Francois Gauticz were accused of piracy and murder in seizing the brig Jane of Gibraltar, on her voyage from that place to | the Brazils, freighted with a valuable cargo, including 38,180 Spanish dollars, and in barbarously killing Johnson the master, am! Paterson a seaman and confining Smith and Sinclair, two other seamen, in the forecastle, where they tried to suffocate them with smoke, but eventually compelled them to assist in navigating the vessel, which they afterwards sank off the coast of Ross-shire. They landed the specie in eight barrels on the Isle of Lewis, where they were apprehended.
This was in the summer of 1822, and they were, after a trial before the Court of Justiciary, sentenced by the Judge-Admiral to be executed on the 9th of the subsequent January, “on the sands of Leith,
within the flood-mark, and their bodies to be afterwards given to Dr. Munro for dissection.”
On the day named they were conveyed from the Calton gaol, under A strong escort of the dragoon guards, accompanied by the magistrates of the city, who had white rods projecting from the windows of
the carriages in which they sat, to a gibbet erected at the foot of Constitution Street— or rather, the northern continuation thereof—and there hanged, Heaman was a native of Carlscrona, in Sweden ;
Gautiez was a Frenchman. The bodies were put in coffins, and conveyed by a corporal’s escort of dragoons to the rooms of the professor of anatomy.
During the execution the great bell of South Leith church was tolled with minute strokes, and the papers of the day state that ” the crowd of spectators was immense, particularly en the sands, being little
short of from forty to fifty thousand j but, owing to the excellent manner in which everything was arranged, not the slightest accident happened.”

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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