This report begins: 'THE LAST / CONFESSION / Of Mr. Robert Irvine, who was Execute May 1st, 1717. Near Brughtoun between Leith and Edinburgh, for Murdering John and Alexander Gordons, Sons to James Gordon of Allan, on Sunday the 28th of April 1717.'
There are other broadsides in the National Library of Scotland's collection which cover this case. This confession seems to be more genuine, heartfelt and human than those of a later date. This sort of report would eventually take on a formulaic style, where only names and dates were really changed. Scotland was also still under the influence of Calvinist and Presbyterian principles. As a result this text does have a spiritual emphasis.
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:
1717 shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(034h)
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