The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside claiming to unmask a mysterious murderer from the previous generation

Commentary

This report begins: 'An account of the wonderful discovery of the murderer of William Begbie, Porter to the British Linen Company's Bank, who was murdered in November, 1806, in the Bank Close, Nether Bow, and Robbed of nearly 5,000, with the whole particulars how the Murderer was discovered.' The name of the publisher is not included on this sheet.

This peculiar broadside, published in 1820, sensationally claims to answer the riddle of an unsolved murder and robbery from 1806. The sum taken in this robbery was 5,000, which would be worth around 206,000 today. The circumstantial evidence provided in the broadside appears less than conclusive, however, and is based on retrospective gossip from the underworld. The accused murderer, Moffat (alias Mackoull), certainly denies all knowledge of the crime, and claims he won his fortune at the gaming tables in Dublin.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1820   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(8)
Broadside claiming to unmask a mysterious murderer from the previous generation
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland