The Black Book 5



The Black Book of Kincardineshire....


Containing miscellaneous papers connected with the county the Black Book of Kincardineshire is a rare collection of accounts dating back to the 17th century which have never been surpassed. I want to concentrate here on the documented criminal trials within those pages. They are a wonderful source of names, places and events.

Are your ancestors among those described. Dare you look?....

23 July 1700

John Duncan, in Auchinblae, prisoner within the Tolbooth of Stonehaven, shaking off all fear of God, respect and regard to His Majesty's laws and authority, hath presumed to commit the crimes of theft and receipt thereof; in so far as he did, upon Wednesday the tenth of July instant, go to the Month or hill of Kirloak, and there did theftuously steal and away-take two oxen and one cow, marked ___ pertaining to George Burnett, in Mulloch; and three oxen, marked ___ pertaining to William Taylor, in Knock; and having sua theftuously stolen the said goods, he die, upon Thursday the eleventh instant, being the Nolt market of Palladie fair, drive the same in the roads from the said market of Kirriemuir, where he intended to have sold the same. And one of which oxen being  ___ he sold to John Dargie, in Brae of Fearn, for twenty-two merks, which he gave back again after he was apprehended, and the goods were taken back by the said George Burnett, and William Taylor, son to the said William Taylor. And lastly, he is indicted and accused as a common and notorious thief, outfang thief, infang thief, and a thief by open voice and common fame, so repute and holden &c.

For so meikle as it is found by the assise, that the panel, John Duncan, is guilty of theft of the nolt libelled in his indictment, conform to the verdict under the hand of Robert Brand, chancellor; Therefore, the Sheriff-Depute foresaid, by the mouth of John Fraser, Dempster of Court, decerns and adjudges the said John Duncan, panel, to be taken, upon Friday next, the second day of August next, to the Gallow-hill, and there, betwixt the hours of Eleven in the forenoon and five in the afternoon, to be hanged on a gibbet till he be dead; and thereafter his body to be buried at the gallow's foot; and declares all his moveable goods and gear be escheat, which is pronounced for doom; whereupon the Fiscal takes instruments.

23 July 1700 

John Reid, lately in ___ Cromar, now prisoner within the Tolbooth of Stonehaven, charged with having, upon Monday the eight day of July instant, gone to the Den of Morphie, where finding some linen webs bleaching there, he did theftuously steal and away-take one of the said linen webs, about twenty-four ells of length, wherewith he came to Hillhead of Alpity, where he did hide the said web amongst a rickle of truffs, where it lay till Tuesday night, and he was apprehended therewith upon Wednesday tenth instant, &c.&c.

For as meikle as by the verdict of an assise it is found, that the said John Reid is guilty of pyckine and small theft, conform to the assise their verdict; Therefore the Sheriff ordains him to be burnt, on Friday by eleven o'clock, with an iron, on the right shoulder blade,* and thereafter to be tied with ropes to John Duncan, and carried with him to the Gallow-hill, and there to stay and behold his being hanged, and to inter his body; and thereafter the said John Reid to be kicked with the foot of the dempster, and banished this shire for ever, never to return thereto under pain of death. Whereupon the Fiscal to take instruments.

* With regard to these punishments, we learn from tradition of later years, that, on the occasion of one of these, which took place at the smithy opposite the now Court-House, lately John Main's, and which was then, as it is now, a smithy, the culprit, after getting his ears bored with a red hot iron, the smoke of which is said to have gone over the smithy with a whiff, roared out while capering with pain, "I would be right now if I had pendices." ie earrings.

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