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TITLE
Warrant for the execution of Ewan MacCoill vain
EXTERNAL ID
Z_GB232_L_INV_HC_8_1_04
DATE OF IMAGE
1729
PERIOD
1720s
SOURCE
Highland Archive Centre
ASSET ID
5743
KEYWORDS
court papers
court records
Warrant for the execution of Ewan MacCoill vain

This is the warrant for the execution of Ewan MacCoill vain and for the subsequent hanging of his body in chains of iron from the gibbet, dated 2 May, 1729 at Inverness. It was issued by the Rt Hon Adam Cokburne of Ormistoun, Lord Justice Clerk and Sir Wm Calderwood of Polton, one of the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary.

The prisoner has been found guilty of two murders and for that he is to be not only hanged, but, once dead, his body is to be hung in iron chains, presumably to prevent it being cut down easily, for an unspecified period. The implication is that it is to be on display as a deterrent. The hanging is to take place at "the Common Place of Execution in the Burgh of Inverness". This may have been in the area which is now Culduthel Road. Castle Street was formerly known as Doom's Gait, as prisoners were led up it from the Tolbooth (at Inverness Town House, where Church Street meets Bridge Street) to their place of execution.

The sentence "was pronounced by the mouth of Alexandr Mcdonald Dempster of Court for doom", emphasising the fact that the verdict was spoken. It is perhaps significant that the Dempster has a Highland name in contrast to the Lords presiding over the court. Dempster was a peculiarly Scottish post, with its origins in the 'judex' of traditional legal system, whose role initially involved a detailed knowledge of law and ability to recite any part of it. By this time the Dempster's role had been sidelined in all but capital cases, where it was essential that he pronounce the doom of the convict


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Warrant for the execution of Ewan MacCoill vain

1720s

court papers; court records

Highland Archive Centre

Inverness County Sheriff Court Records

This is the warrant for the execution of Ewan MacCoill vain and for the subsequent hanging of his body in chains of iron from the gibbet, dated 2 May, 1729 at Inverness. It was issued by the Rt Hon Adam Cokburne of Ormistoun, Lord Justice Clerk and Sir Wm Calderwood of Polton, one of the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary.<br /> <br /> The prisoner has been found guilty of two murders and for that he is to be not only hanged, but, once dead, his body is to be hung in iron chains, presumably to prevent it being cut down easily, for an unspecified period. The implication is that it is to be on display as a deterrent. The hanging is to take place at "the Common Place of Execution in the Burgh of Inverness". This may have been in the area which is now Culduthel Road. Castle Street was formerly known as Doom's Gait, as prisoners were led up it from the Tolbooth (at Inverness Town House, where Church Street meets Bridge Street) to their place of execution.<br /> <br /> The sentence "was pronounced by the mouth of Alexandr Mcdonald Dempster of Court for doom", emphasising the fact that the verdict was spoken. It is perhaps significant that the Dempster has a Highland name in contrast to the Lords presiding over the court. Dempster was a peculiarly Scottish post, with its origins in the 'judex' of traditional legal system, whose role initially involved a detailed knowledge of law and ability to recite any part of it. By this time the Dempster's role had been sidelined in all but capital cases, where it was essential that he pronounce the doom of the convict <br /> <br /> <br /> For further information about this item and the collection to which it belongs, please <a href="mailto: archives@highlifehighland.com">email</a> the Highland Archive Service