This crime report begins: 'Full, True and Particular Account of that most Horrid Murder which was committed on New Year's Morning, in Dunbar Street, Canal Basin, Edinburgh, on the body of Mrs Calderhead with a correct account of the apprehension of the Murderers ; with an account of that awful accident that happened on Saturday Morning, in Milne's Court, Lawnmarket, when a woman was burned to death.' This sheet was published by the Edinburgh printer John Campbell.
The first story reports the murder of Mrs Calderhead by two unnamed fellows, whilst the details of the murder could not be revealed for decency's sake. Not a lot of facts have been given here, but then this could be a fairly early report, close after the incident. The second story, also lacking in facts, reveals how an older woman was burned to death. Both these incidents occurred during the revelries of New Year, which the text itself points out can be quite rowdy in Scotland. They were written during a period when society was preoccupied with the link between poverty and class, and how this could be improved through self-discipline, self-denial and religion.
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:
1831 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(104)
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