|Court Case 1806, May 9th.|
|MARGARET CUNNINGHAM or MASSON, (accused)|
|JOHN SKINNER, (accused) (absconded)|
|Perth circuit court was opened on this date.Three capital convictions were recorded during the sittings, two cases involving Fifers.|
|Widow of John Masson, Pathhead, Kirkcaldy, and John Skinner, were charged with the murder of her husband by administering arsenic. Skinner, who had absconded, had sentence of fugitation passed upon him. Mrs Masson was found guilty, but sentence was delayed, as her counsel said that she was enciente.|
|The case of Mrs Masson subsequently came before the High Court at Edinburgh, when a jury of midwives certified that she was pregnant. Sentence was therefore postponed for five months. She appeared again before the court in November with the child in her arms, when sentence of death was passed. Clemency might surely have been extended to this unfortunate woman, as her companion in crime has escaped from being brought to trial.|
|This sentence was duly carried out on the 7th January.|
| Broadside concerning the final words of Margaret Cunninghame before her execution
Last Speech of MARGARET CUNNINGHAME before her excution,
Who was executed at the west end of the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, on Wednesday
the 7th of January 1807, for the horrid crime of poisoning John Mason, her husband, in February last, and her body given for Dissection.
ON Wednesday the 7th instant, in pursuance of her sentence, was executed at the west end of the Tolbooth, in Edinburgh,
Margaret Cunninghame, for the horrid crime of administering poisonin a cup of tea to John Mason,flax dresser in Pathhead, parish of Dysart, and county of Fife, her husband, on the 12th or 13th days of February 1806, and suspicion having fallen upon her the one John Skinner, Flesher in Pathhead, they absconded from justice, being pursued, Margaret Cunninghame was apprehended and brought to trial at the Circuit Court of Perth in May last, when the jury found her guilty ; but being with
child, sentence was postponed, and an interlocutor pronounced, that she should be carried to Edinburgh and examined by matrons, who were to give in their report, on oath, to the Court, which they did, establishing the fact of her pregnancy.
The sentence was then suspended till she should be brought to bed and recovered, which time having elapsed, she was again brought before the Court, on the 20th .of November last, and received the sentence of the law, which was that she be carried back, to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh and there to be fed upon bread and water till the 7th of January next, and upon that day to be taken to the common place of execution, and there to be hung by the neck until dead and her body to be given for public
The Court giving her a solemn admonition to prepare for her latter end, she appeared as regardless as if nothing had happened, her imagination leading her to think ail was a farce, and that she would not suffer; nor could she, till such time as the child was taken from her, be brought to a right sense of her approaching fate ; and even then she indulged herself in the
hopes of a pardon, although often told none would make intercession for her, and that her crime.was of such a nature that she could not with any probability expect it.
For these two weeks past she seemed to accept her account with death, and by the attention the Reverend Clergy paid to her, she became more penitent, lamenting at the folly and frailty of her .nature, which so easily yielded to the seduction of unlawful lust, and the bad usage she had given to the best of husbands, but being encouraged by her cruel seducer, she became regardless of him and her children, often going to balls, dances and merry meetings with her cruel adviser, who had put it in her head to do what she had done She said it was the third time she intended to ruin her husband,. which at last too fatally had taken effect ; but she hoped none would be so cruel as cast up her untimely, end to her children or her relations, and that her connection with Skinner had been the cause her untimely end.
She was born in the parish of Kinglassie, of decent parents, and has resided in Pathhead since her marriage.
It is sincerely hoped that all those who have seen or may hear of her fatal exit, will take a warning by her.downfal, and shun the precipice on which she has fallen ; as they may be assured that secret or premediated murder will be found out either sooner or latter; and if in the course of events, it should not come to light in this world, yet the cruel perpetrators, if their con-
sciences are not feared as with a hot iron, will say within themselves, How can they appear before the God of all secrets ? who has declared in his most holy word, that the most hidden things shall be brought to the clearest light in the next.
As this unfortunate woman has fallen a victim to the .laws of her country, let all consider that they who hath lived happily die securely; and happy are they who end the business of this life before their death.