273 people were publicly hanged in Scotland between 1800 and 1868. Of these 273, 14 were women. Few of them actually took place in Dundee, with only six recorded hangings, five of them public, the final one private. The last man to be hung in Dundee, William Bury, was the infamous murderer who was suspected by many of actually being Jack the Ripper.

A new gibbet was erected for the execution of Arthur Woods, sentenced for killing his son, John Drew Woods. His execution in 1839 at the new jail at the corner of Bell Steet and Lochee Road, drew a large crowd and cavalry had to be sent from Edinburgh to keep control of the crowd. The treasurers accounts list the expenditures related to this including the erecting of the scaffold which cost £40, 7 shillings and 11 pence (£40 7s11d); John Scott, the executioner was paid £17 5s; meat for the executioner while in the gaol cost 14s 9d; and transport for the executioner back to Edinburgh cost £2 10s.


Perth, tried 16 April, 1801

Date of execution Name Crime Place
Friday 12th June John Watt (West) Housebreaking & theft Dundee

Tried at Perth on the 20th of April, 1826.

Date of execution Name Crime Place
Friday 2nd June David Balfour Murder Dundee

Tried at Perth on the 1st of May, 1835.

Date of execution Name Crime Place
Saturday 30th May Mark Devlin Rape Dundee

Tried by the High Court of Justiciary on the 25th of February, 1839.

Date of execution Name Crime Place
Monday 25th March Arthur Woods Murder Dundee

Tried by the High Court of Justiciary on the 1st of September, 1847.

Date of execution Name Crime Place
Tuesday 5th October Thomas Leith Murder wife Dundee

After 1868, private executions were still carried out and one last man was executed in Dundee in 1889 – a man who many believed to be the notorious “Jack the Ripper”.

Trial date Name Age Hanged at/reprieved Crime/Victim
25/03/1889 William Bury 29 Dundee24/04/1889 Wife, Ellen