The Last Person Executed For Blasphemy



Thomas Aikenhead was a Scottish student from Edinburgh, who was executed at the age of 20 on a charge of blasphemy under the Blasphemy Act of 1661, which specified that anyone found guilty of being observed to "rail upon or curse or deny God, and obstinately continue therein" should be sentenced to death. In August 1696, Aikenhead had been walking through Edinburgh with a couple of his friends and happened to say that the Scottish weather was unforgiving. He went on to say he wished he were in hell, where at least it would be a little warmer. His remarks were not found to be amusing, and he was consequently charged with denouncing God, railing against the scriptures, and speaking against religion. Aikenhead was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death on Christmas Eve 1696. On January 8, 1697, he found himself walking two miles to his death, along the road from town to the gallows, where he was summarily executed. He became the last man in the world to be executed for blasphemy.