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Broadside entitled 'S.Byrne &c.'


This crime report begins: 'A full, true and particular Report, as it appears in the Sun London Newspaper, received by this day's London Mail, of the Proceedings at the Northfolk Assizes, against Simon Byrne, the Boxer, for killing Sandy MacKay, in the great fight between these two Champions, together with the finding of the Grand Jury, not only against Simon Byrne, but against George Cooper, of the City of Edinburgh, Rueben Martin, Thomas Cribb, and Thomas Reynolds, as Aiders and Abettors.' This sheet was published by Forbes and Owen of Edinburgh.

This sheet is an odd conglomerate of stories some of which have been sourced from Irish and English papers. The Gilmerton murder, when Margaret Paterson was assaulted and murdered by two carters, is mentioned. The Norfolk case involved the Dublin-born prize fighter Simon Byrne being prosecuted for the death of his opponent. This fight took place at Salcey Green, Northamptonshire in June 1830. Byrne had previously defeated M'Kay in the ring. After being tried, he was acquitted for the Scot's death. In 1831 he was deafeated in a contest for the championship of England against Jem Ward. Byrne died in 1833 at St. Albans after a fight with James 'Deaf' Burke. The other account appears to be an Irish story about parents suffocating their daughter after she contracted rabies. Each story is introduced in the middle of the previous story - an example of early 'headlines' - in an attempt to keep the reader interested.

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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Probable date published: 1830   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(100)
Broadside entitled 'S.Byrne &c.'
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