8 January 1751 – Norman Ross

Desperate Scottish robber-cum-murderer Norman Ross was hanged on this day in the mid-18th century.

Ross was found guilty of killing his boss after he tried to steal money to support his girlfriend and new baby.

A promising start

Having lost his mum and dad at the tender age of 15, Ross was left to fend for a whole army of offspring. He started off promisingly enough by becoming a lady’s footman and he earned an honest living.

Her son recognised great things in the young man and whisked him off to Belgium as his valet. And that’s where Ross stayed for five years. But it was his return to Scotland that was his undoing.

Wicked ways

Ross got a job as a footman in a respectable house but he got into bad ways by hanging around other less than respectable footmen and his good standards dropped. He also managed to get one of the servants up the duff and she had his child. After that his debts spiralled out of control. He was borrowing off his mates in order to support his girlfriend and child.

Hat’s off

His stress levels sky rocketed over the space of five months until he was driven to hatch a plan to rob his employer, Mrs Hume. He swiped the keys while she was asleep but the noise woke the lady and she screamed. Ross silenced her in the only way he knew how – he grabbed a small knife nearby and slit her throat. He then leaped out of the window and scarpered, but not without dropping his hat as he legged it.

The next morning the hat and the bloodied victim’s body were discovered and as the only absent member of staff, the blame quickly fell on Ross. As his defence he tried to claim he was sleeping with Mrs Hume and that’s why his boots were in the vicinity. But that didn’t wash with the jury and he was found guilty.

Wrist action

Ross’ penalty was merciless. He was sentenced to have his right hand cut off and stuck on the murder weapon before being hanged and strung up in chains as an example to all. It took two attempts to sever his right hand before the rope tightened around his neck. Ross ran his remaining stump across his face bloodying his cheek as he convulsed, adding to the gruesome nature of his death. His lifeless body was then raised in chains and according to the Newgate Calendar, he was ‘hung upon a gibbet, the hand being placed over the head with the knife stuck through it.’

Also on this day

8 January 1954 – Czelslaw Kowalewski
8 January 1946 – William Batty

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