This report begins: 'The trial of Mr. James Stuart who was tried at the High Court of Justiciary, for being art and part in a duel in which Sir Alexander Boswell lost his life?'.
There are numerous broadsides covering this story from its occurrence to the acquittal of Stuart. Sir Alexander Boswell (son of the biographer James Boswell) was an active Tory politician, mainly in Devon, England, although he was also actively involved in Scottish literary life. He operated a private printing press from his house in Auchinleck and was involved in the publicly-funded Burns memorial. He also indulged in publishing anonymous lampoons in the press, which sparked this challenge. Stuart discovered the name of his satirist whilst taking action against the 'Glasgow Sentinel'. He then engaged Boswell in the fatal duel at Balbarton in Fife.
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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