The astonishing thing about Allan Mair when he turned vicious killer was his age. He was 84 when he was hanged on Wednesday, October 4th, 1843, and that made him almost certainly the oldest man executed in the British Isles in the 19th century. Crippled with arthritis, he had to be carried to the gallows in a chair.

Mair physically abused his wife Mary all through the 30 years of their married life, and finally beat her to death with a stick in May 1843 at their home in Candie End, Muiravonside, Stirling. When her body was examined it revealed she had been thrashed on the back, arms and legs, as well as having been repeatedly punched in the head.

The old man denied being responsible for the beating when he was tried at Stirling Circuit Court, but a neighbour testified to hearing the blows. “I could hear Mary shouting that she couldn’t take any more,” the neighbour said.

On the scaffold Mair berated the executioner and the prison officials. “They’ve all told lies agin me,” he shouted. “I’m nae murderer.” As he continued to rave, executioner John Murdoch put the rope around his neck. But as the condemned man fell through the drop his hands came undone and he grabbed the rope, thus delaying his own death.

Murdoch rushed forward and grappled with Mair in a horrific death struggle, pulling his hands away from the rope. Mair swung round and it took another minute for him to die.

In May 2000, a skeleton was found buried in the entrance to the prison courtyard. It was forensically identified as that of Allan Mair, and was reburied in an unmarked grave.