This execution notice begins: 'THE LAST / SPEECH AND CONFESSION / OF / Margaret Crooks, who was Executed at the Grass-Market of Edinburgh, the twenty fourth of December 1718. for the Murthering her own Child.' This sheet was printed in 1718, by a publisher who had premises 'at the Foot of the Horse Wynd', Edinburgh.
It is interesting to note many oblique features of eighteenth century society in this text. The Church had begun to be involved in some aspects of rudimentary education for younger children, especially in non-urban areas. Here Margaret's lack of education, poverty and her pregnancy out with marriage are linked as ideas. Furthermore, the Calvinist and Presbyterian religious principles, so prevalent in Scotland, are highlighted as the Minister publicly questions Margaret about her pregnancy and involves 'parishioners' in discovering her secret. Finally, Margaret was caught because there was a fire at her house because she left the hearth untended - a continual domestic hazard.
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:
1718 shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(042)
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