The Newgate Calendar - JOHN MURDOCH

Executed for the Murder of James Murdoch.

            PHILIP, King of Macedon, derived less glory from all his victories than from one single act of justice. One of his veterans had been billetted on a poor peasant, who treated him with great hospitality; but the base soldier, in return for such kindness, resolved to ruin his host: he fabricated a tale for the ear of his commander, injurious to the character of the peasant, and solicited for himself the home and geld of his benefactor. His villainy was detected, and the indignant monarch ordered to be branded, on his. forehead, 'The ungrateful guest'-- a stigma which, in Christian times, is, we are sorry to say, often merited by modern soldiers, as the following case will show:--

            John Murdoch was a discharged soldier, who, in the beginning of the. year 1815, visited a namesake of his, with whom he was formerly acquainted, at Langrig, a small village near Whitburn, Scotland. Although of the same name, there was no relationship between them; but, on the strength of nominal connexion, the veteran received a hearty welcome from his friend, James Murdoch, who lived in a house by himself, and kept a little shop.

            For eight days the old soldier was hospitably entertained; but, like the 'ungrateful guest,' he wished to possess himself of the property of his host, and, horrid to relate, he one night took up a carpenter's adze, and clove the poor man's head in two! after which he concealed the body in a corner.

            Next day, the shop not being opened as usual, the neighbours became alarmed, and, going to inquire, they were told by the murderer that the old man had gone to Whitburn, and would not return until the evening. This not satisfying the people, they rushed forward, and soon discovered the mangled corpse of the deceased.

            The 'ungrateful guest' attempted to escape; but he was pursued, and quickly overtaken. When examined, the money of the poor shopkeeper, as well as his watch, was found upon the wretch, who was fully committed for trial.

            On Monday, February the 18th, 1815, he was indicted for this murder in the High Court of Justiciary, Edinburgh, and found Guilty. The execution of a murderer does not take place in Scotland so soon after conviction as in this country; and this malefactor did not suffer until the 29th of the following March.


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