11 March 1889 – Jessie King

A not so wee dram killed a wee girl in the care of baby farmer Jessie King, who was hanged on this day in 1889 for double murder.

Single malt

The Scottish so-called carer gave the tot a tot too much whisky, which apparently killed her. Like other baby farmers before and after her, King then strangled a little boy called Alexander Gunn, who was also in her charge. She then stashed both bodies down in her cellar.

But suspicious individuals reported the babies missing and the police were called in. Wracked with guilt, King caved in and confessed the whereabouts of the children.

Double fault

King may also have gone as far as to kill a third child, but as no corpse turned up so she was only had up for the two murders. Of course, there was an enquiry into whether she was certifiable or not, ie: mad or bad. And they found in favour of her being bad, despite the view that ‘her own mind was not capable of forming a conception of the difference between right and wrong’.

Seeing as King was found to be bad, she had to pay for her crimes and the penalty was death. King became the last woman to be hanged in Edinburgh and she was strung up at Calton Jail, aged 27. While no spectators were allowed to watch, a reporter from the Scotsman interviewed the executioners and one observed that: ‘in all his life he never saw a woman meet her death so bravely.

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