AYRSHIRE author John Kellie has published his third book, Hanged Until Dead.

It tells the story of men and women who were executed in 19th century Scotland and follows his previous offerings, Ayrshire Echoes and Ayrshire Folk — both successful.

In his introduction, the writer says: “There has long been an appetite in Scotland for fiction that delves into the darker recesses of the human psyche — look no further than Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

“Surely it must stand to reason that what’s good enough for fiction will be just as effective for material grounded in fact.”

This offering satisfies that yearning for such a genre as it delves into the archives from John Young in December 1801 to John Herdman in March 1898.

The first foray into Ayrshire takes place with the story of George Watson who, along with his father, had stolen a pair of horses from a farm near New Cumnock. The furious owners set off on a pursuit that took them through Glasgow, into Loch Lomondside and Inveraray.

They finally caught up with the Watsons at an isolated glen near Oban — after eight days and 150 miles.

Police officers who had been with one of the owners, John Kerr, arrested them and they were went on trial in Ayr.

John’s brother, William, had already returned home to take care of their farms.

George Watson Snr was sentenced to hang which reflected the severity of the crime in 1811.

Horses were vital for transport and the production of food, and the theft was an extremely serious offence.

Other fascinating tales of crimes which led to the ultimate punishment includes the gassing of two elderly women in a Helensburgh guest house.

David Little faced a hostile Glasgow mob when he faced the hangman in January 1831.

He had evaded justice for five years after a violent robbery on the outskirts of the city, leaving the country for Ireland before moving to England.

As a first offender, his crime today might even result in an non-custodial punishment.

But, on Thursday, January 27, 1831, with the jeers and catcalls of angry Glaswegians ringing in his ears, David Little was hanged.

Glasgow and Edinburgh feature repeatedly in Hanged Until Dead, including the case of John Herdman, who rekindled an earlier romance.

He had first met Jennie Soutar when he was 22-years-old and she was in her late teens.

They got together three decades later and moved into a flat just off High Street in Edinburgh.

It was a stormy relationship, though, and on one occasion Jessie had moved out, although she returned on Hogmanay 1897 after an absence of several weeks.

The couple began drinking and, shortly after the Bells had welcomed the New Year, raised voices and abusive language could be heard. Over the next few hours, things got worse until he literally kicked her to death.

Herdman’s hanging at Calton Jail is described in graphic detail — it had captured people’s interest and more than 500 people assembled in the capital. John Herdman would be the last person to face the death penalty in 19th century Scotland.

Hanged Until Dead is published by Carn Publishing, Lochnoran House, Auchinleck. Visit www.carnpublishing.com.