4 October 1843 – Alan Mair

Meet our second octogenarian of the year, Alan Mair who was done for murder on this day in 1843.

Unlike Salem Witch Trial victim Giles Corey, today’s subject was truly abusive by all accounts. His name was Alan Mair and it was his violent temper that landed him in a whole heap of trouble north of the border. For this man in the twilight of his life had committed murder.

What a Mair

Mair shared his home with common-law wife Mary Fletcher who was a year older than him at 85. But unlike Mair, Fletcher was poorly – unable to walk very well or stand up straight, Fletcher was pretty much dependent on Mair for everything. And it turned out he had come to hate her and often wished her dead.

And that fatal wish came true soon enough. Or maybe it wasn’t a moment too soon for our long-suffering victim.

Witnesses were to come forward later and state that he would often starve Fletcher and keep food under lock and key, according to National Library of Scotland, which has reproduced salacious reports written at the time of the case.

Things came to a head when the accused apparently beat Fletcher bloody. A witness saw her in her bruised state having heard the commotion and found her and the bed bloodied. Naturally the police were called, but it was too late. The case had morphed from one of GBH to murder and the prime suspect was Mair himself.

Perish the thought

He was found guilty of murder and sent down to await the date when his penalty would be carried out. But that didn’t stop him trying to take control of his end date. Mair went on a hunger strike, but eventually caved in. And when the word came through that his appeal had been rejected, he steeled himself for the inevitable.

The old man was hanged in Stirling apparently following a few brief struggles as he swung to his death.

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