This crime report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Apprehension of Robert Dempster, junior, Slater in Cupar of Fife, accused of the Murder of M'DONALD, a Flax-Dresser, with his slate-hammer, on the High Road between Craigrothie and Wemyss Hall Gate, a few weeks ago, and who is now lodged in Cupar Jail, having been Apprehended at Doune, on Monday Evening the 25th October 1830.'
Although this story covers the details, confession and arrest of Robert Dempster for the murder of the man, McDonald, there are many more social details revealed by this text. The drinking habits and movements of the working class in 1830s Scotland are touched on as well as their social interaction. The text refers to one English speaking and one non-English speaking drover, highlighting the prevalence of Gaelic in Scottish society and its acceptance. Finally Dempster had plans to escape to America, so a fresh start and the option of travelling to America were well known by all levels of society.
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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Date of publication:
1830 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(103)
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