George Bryce

George Bryce

Another botched execution so infuriated the Edinburgh crowd who had come to watch it on Tuesday, June 21st, 1864, that the hangman, Thomas Askern, had to be given a disguise by the police and smuggled out of the city. Askern had fixed a drop that was too short for George Bryce, 30, and the spectators watched in horror as the condemned man swung struggling on the end of the rope for nearly four minutes.

Bryce had been found guilty of murdering Jane Seton, 23, of Midlothian, who he considered responsible for breaking up his relationship with his girl friend. When, bent on revenge, he broke into the house where Jane was living, she fled via the back door. Bryce quickly caught her and slit her throat with a razor.

The jury recommended mercy on the grounds of “the low organisation of his mental faculties,” but this was not enough to prevent his terrible encounter with Thomas Askern.