Mearns Probus Club hear of ‘Murders and Misdeeds’

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The speaker at the club for the latest meeting was Forbes Inglis from Montrose, introduced by vice-President Malcolm McCoig in the absence of President Eric Bell.

Forbes Inglis is a freelance writer and writes for the Montrose Review every second week, under the title “Gable Ender.”

He is also an author who has written and published a number of books on local history and events in the Mearns and Angus.

His talk was on “Murders and Misdeeds” in this area, an interest which was brought about by finding a story in an old local paper.

He referred to murders and their consequences – the disposal of bodies and the work of Burke and Hare who supplied bodies to the universities – illegally of course.

A public hanging was often looked at as a day off work, with local traders setting up stalls nearby to provide food for the spectators.

One tale of a young lad who turned bad – according to locals – started off by stealing a clucking hen and her chicks. He also stole money from the Church Plate, and was cursed by the hen’s owner, who remarked that he would finish up on the hangman’s rope, in view of a large number of the public.

He was the last man to be hanged by order of the Sheriff in Forfar, and was taken to the gallows at Balmashanner. On the way, they stopped to allow him his last drink, which he refused.

After his hanging, his reprieve came through, but by this time it was too late. Maybe, if he had taken that last drink, he would have survived - who knows?

Forbes covered many other stories, all of which can be found in one of his books, which he had readily available.

Club Secretary Ian Bell called on members to accord Forbes a vote of thanks for his presentation.