Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thriller Thrusday - A Wicked and Felonious Conspiracy

Me - My Dad - Johnston Cumberland Paterson - Francis Paterson - Johnston Paterson - his brother (Francis Paterson)

This intriguing case in 1859 involved my 2nd great granduncle, Francis Paterson, turning the tables on a group of conspirators trying to entrap him for assault to extort money.. Francis was a writer(solicitor) and  house factor (one who manages property) for his uncle, George Hunter of Renfrew. The trouble began  in February of 1859 when Francis took John Boyle to small-debt court in Glasgow for not paying rent at McAlpine Street. This is when John Boyle, his wife (Margaret Gallocher), James Boyle, Charles Kerr, John Stewart, and others devised a wicked scheme to  entrap Francis for assault on Mrs. Boyle. They lured Francis to the shop with suggestion that some of the amount owed would be paid, then asked him to go to the back room to check on a faulty water pipe. Mrs. Boyle was waiting for him in the dark room and pulled him down while exposing herself. The police were summoned and Francis was taken to the police office. He was charged with alleged assault, with intent to commit rape and disorderly conduct. Francis was tried at the police court where the charges were dropped due to discrepancy in the evidence. The perpetrators were then charged with conspiracy to extort money , for assault, and perjury.

The trial was conducted in October of 1859 in the autumn circuit court and received a lot of attention. It appeared in numerous newspapers in England and Scotland. The Glasgow Herald had the whole trial in the paper on October 7, 8, and 10th. During the trial, Francis had many people vouch for his good character.

  • His cousin (Henry Spence) a draughtsman states he’s a man of good moral character and has been married for two years past in August.
  • Sarah Vass or Watt whom house is right above Mr. Boyle’s kitchen said that Mr. Paterson was a nice modest man that she wouldn’t expect that he would assault a woman.
  • Jessie Beatton or McDougal had a shop next to the Boyle’s. She affirmed that Mr. Paterson was a respectable man.
  • William D. Hall (writer) declared that he had known Mr. Paterson for the last 15 years and that Mr. Paterson had a first-rate moral character both professionally and otherwise.
  • William Burns (writer) affirm that Mr. Paterson’s character was excellent. Mr. Burns had known Francis professionally.
  • Jane (Francis Paterson’s wife) spoke that they had been married for two years.

Francis finally got his justice at the end of the trial when the jury came to an unanimous verdict, finding the perpetrators guilty of the crime of conspiracy as libeled, to extort money, or found a false claim for damages against Mr. Francis Paterson, by means of a false accusation of a criminal offense knowing it to false, and by means of perjury. John Boyle and his wife, Margaret were sentenced to seven years of penal servitude. James Boyle, Charles Kerr, and John Stewart to five years of penal servitude.

You can read the case before the high court from google books

More about the Patersons:
52 Ancestors - James Paterson - Glasgow Spirit Dealer
Sympathy Sunday - The Patersons in Scotland
Workday Wednesday - Bank Treasurer 


"Autumn Circuit Court - Oct. 6," The Glasgow Herald, 7 October 1859, page 4 of 8; digital image, Find My Past ( : accessed 10 October 2015).
Not available on Google News.

"Autumn Circuit Court - Oct. 7," The Glasgow Herald, 8 October 1859, pages 3 & 4 of 4; digital image, Find My Past ( : accessed 10 October 2015).
"Autumn Circuit Court - Oct. 8," The Glasgow Herald, 10 October 1859, page 6 of 8; digital image, Find My Past ( : accessed 10 October 2015).

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