Thomas Aikenhead was the last man to be executed for blasphemy in Britain, so what is his story?
In the 1690’s Thomas Aikenhead was, a young Edinburgh medical student at a time when his University’s library held books by Descartes, Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes and other thinkers, and being a keen student young Thomas would often enjoy reading new ideas.
He later talked about some of his reading with friends, and unfortunately one of them, possibly Mungo Craig, took offense and informed on him to the authorities. In the autumn of 1696 Thomas was arrested and remitted to the Tolbooth Prison “to be tryed for his life” for blasphemy. He mouldered there until December 23, when he crossed Parliament Square to the High Court to be charged under both of Scotland’s Blasphemy Acts, one enacted before and one after the Revolution of 1689.