Archive for March 27th, 2013

1811: Adam Lyal, highwayman

1 comment March 27th, 2013 Headsman

On this date in 1811, Adam Lyal was hanged as a highwayman in Edinburgh.

Adam Lyal went on trial with his brother John on January 3.

John’s counsel went with the insanity defense — you know, the classic; he’d been raving incoherently in prison and seemed not in his right mind. A doctor ruled that John “laboured under a state of idiotism … incapable of knowing the right hand from the left.”

So, despite the jailer’s suspicion that Lyal was simulating (he testified that John Lyal knew a hawk from a handsaw when he was first captured and didn’t start with the crazy talk for a few days), John Lyal was ruled unfit for trial.

That left Adam alone to answer for both. Maybe he should have requested a psychological evaluation too, because he was crazy to go on trial.

In that proceeding, he faced the detailed testimony of Matthew Boyd that on Oct. 25 previous, he was returning from the fair when the pair approached him.

On coming up, one of them laid his arm over the bridle, and having both pistols in their hands, they presented them, and desired him to deliver up his pocketbook, or they would blow his brains out.

Boyd boldly tried to bluff his way out of this at the risk of his life, but the robbers thrashed him until he coughed up a parcel of small notes … and then, most begrudgingly, another £100 of large notes he had stashed in his vest.

He’d relinquished his cash, for now, but this Matthew Boyd was an intrepid soul.

As he had been robbed in broad daylight, Boyd had plenty of time to get to Stirling, procure a warrant, and track Boyd’s assailants all the way to Edinburgh where the next day he finally found them in the streets and personally collared them.

Conclusion: do not rob Matthew Boyd.

Adam Lyal’s defense, considerably less effective than that of his brother, was to argue that the indictment charged a robbery in the shire of Perth, but it was actually done in the county of Stirling.

That … did not help.

Adam Lyal’s unfortunate fate has not precluded his latter-day career as an Edinburgh tour guide with an active Twitter account.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,History,Notable Sleuthing,Outlaws,Pelf,Public Executions,Scotland,Theft


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