This report of an execution begins: 'EXECUTION Of ELIZABETH M'NEIL OR BANKS, who was Executed this morning, at the west end of the Lock-up-house, for the Murder of her husband, Peter Banks, a collier at Pathhead.' It was published by Sanderson of Edinburgh in 1835
Broadside reports vary greatly in the amount of information they provide. This example gives an unusually full account of the condemned woman's life and actions, from her previous homes and marriage, through her work selling pottery in an unhappy second marriage, to her murder of that second husband and her subsequent attempts to starve herslf to death before she could be executed. The execution itself is described in minute, pathetic detail. It appears that the author of this broadside is keen to elict sympathy for Elizabeth McNiel.
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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