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Half Hangit Maggie

THE PORTEOUS MOB

In April 1736, during the public hanging of Andrew Wilson, a convicted smuggler charged with robbing a customs officer, a riot broke out leading to the deployment of National Guard soldiers armed with musket and ball.

The situation worsened when Captain John Porteous ordered a warning shot above the heads of the rowdy crowd. Some shots wounded residents standing behind the high apartment windows and the ensuing chaos prompted the order from Porteous to shoot into the crowd.

This resulted in six deaths and over 30 people were wounded. He was convicted of murder on 5 July 1736, but a deferment on execution transpired after a successful appeal, lodged by Sir Robert Walpole, the first English Prime Minister.

This incensed the local population and inspired a plot to kill Porteous. On September 7th the mob stormed the infamous Tolbooth Prison at Parliament Square and overpowered the guards.

They dragged the despised officer through the Lawnmarket to the Grassmarket where he was beaten and lynched from a dyer's pole.

He died just before Midnight of September 10th and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard the following day. Where his gravestone can still be found.





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