22 August 1700 – the Rev Thomas Hunter
You’ve got to love the ‘Malefactors’ Bloody Register’. Written in the 18th century, it detailed lurid accounts of vicious felons in a bid to dissuade people from committing crimes, otherwise known as the ‘Newgate Calendar’.
And that’s where we dug up our next dodgy gentleman – a reverend no less.
Meet Thomas Hunter who carried out the most irreverent of acts of vengeance. Unsurprisingly, the former man of God met a most bloody end after committing the most cold-blooded of murders.
The young Scot was employed by the well-to-do Gordon family as a tutor to their sons. The two boys were to wind up as his victims, but for a while things went well.
Then Hunter took a fancy to Mrs Gordon’s maid and the two started an affair on the quiet.
Getting the hump
During one such dangerous liaison, the amorous couple had stolen into the Gordons’ bedroom and forgotten to lock the door. Of course, the children walked in on him getting his end away and kids being kids they couldn’t wait for their parents to get home before they spilled the beans about what the pair had been up to.
Well, the maid got her marching orders pretty sharpish, while the silver-tongued Hunter managed to worm his way out of trouble by profusely apologising – putting it down to the whims of youth and young manhood.
Underneath this repentant exterior though, lay a seething mass of vengeance and he bided his time before he could get even with the two boys and their sister.
The opportunity presented itself on day when the parents were due to go out. Hunter normally took the children out for a walk before dinner, and this night was no different.
However, it was the last walk they’d ever take. The daughter went with the Gordons, foiling his plan to wipe out all the offspring, however he was able to whisk the two lads off to the grounds of Edinburgh Castle where he slit the children’s throats.
But it was broad daylight and a public place, so it was hardly surprising that the rapacious reverend was caught in the act and apprehended before he had chance to chuck himself in the river.
Of course, with actual witnesses, Hunter was unable to do anything but plead guilty. Not that he had seemed to have any intention of doing otherwise – apparently he even went as far as to say his only regret was not slaying the Gordons’ daughter as well.
When judgement was passed, the sentence was swift and heavy. He was to be hanged but in a twist to the normal methods, the convicted criminal was first to be taken to the site of the murders where he was to have his right hand chopped off, then be ‘drawn up to the gibbet by a rope and when he was dead, hung in chains’.
And as Hunter was executed he was to renounce God in his last act of defiance.
Tomorrow’s a big one in the execution calendar, none other than old Braveheart himself, Mr William Wallace.