This report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Execution of JAMES STEVENSON, who was Hanged at Glasgow, on Wednesday Morning, the 1st of June, 1825, for Highway Robbery; with an Interesting Account of his Life and Transactions.'
Broadsides can be valuable tools in allowing us to learn more about the society in which they were produced. One phrase in this fairly unremarkable crime report makes its historical context far more vivid: 'Latterly he had been employed in one of the boats in rising sand from the bed of the river.' This alludes to the deepening and widening of the Clyde, an operation which would ultimately be the making of Glasgow as an international centre of trade, shipbuilding and engineering. It is fascinating to read today of this forgotten highwayman using the dredger he was employed aboard as a hiding place for his stolen goods.
Reports recounting dark and salacious deeds were popular with the public, and, like today's sensationalist tabloids, sold in large numbers. Crimes could generate sequences of sheets covering descriptive accounts, court proceedings, last words, lamentations and executions as they occurred. As competition was fierce, immediacy was paramount, and these occasions provided an opportunity for printers and patterers to maximise sales.
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Date of publication:
1825 shelfmark: F.3.a.13(113)
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