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Broadside entitled 'Elegiac Lines On the Tragical Murder of Poor Daft Jamie'

Commentary

This crime report begins: 'Gude people all, I pray give ear, to what I now do say, / And buy a copy o' this Poem before I gang away; / It can't now but melt the hardest heart, whoe'er d' read it o'er, / How poor daft Jamie met his death, the like was ne'er before'. The poem was written by J.P. and the woodcut at the top reads 'Alas! Jamie's Pickled'. This second edition sheet was published by W. Smith of 3 Bristo Port, Edinburgh.

Burke and Hare were Irish body-snatchers and murderers, who worked around Edinburgh's Canongate area. They hit upon the idea of murdering vulnerable people (in an attempt not to get caught) so that they could sell the bodies for dissection. Poor Daft Jamie, (James Wilson) was a local West Port character, who entertained the children of the area with stories and jokes. Jamie was just eighteen when he was murdered and Burke and Hare received 10 for the body. Hare turned King's Evidence and so was acquitted, but this secured the conviction of Burke, who was hanged on the 28th January 1829.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information often for entertainment, such as memorials and eulogies. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Although many of the people are now lost to researchers, their stories offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in.

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Date of publication: 1829   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(017)
Broadside entitled 'Elegiac Lines On the Tragical Murder of Poor Daft Jamie'
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