This broadside begins: 'An excellent form of a PRAYER, said to have been aften used by the unfortunate James Gow, shoemaker, who was Executed yesterday, Friday the 2d of December 1831, for the Murder of his Wife, and whose Body was delivered to Dr. Munro for dissection, since his condemnation.'
Whilst James Gow headlines this broadside, the simultaneous execution of Robert Beveridge for a similar crime is also briefly cited. The main body of the broadside, however, contains Gow's repentful last words, said in the form of a prayer. The reader is also treated to Gow's final utterances 'on this earth', 'Lord have mercy on our souls; Lord, receive our souls'. Whether these were in fact Gow's last words is another matter. Last speeches were often reused by printers, with only the appropriate details, such as name and nature of crime, changed.
Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.
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Date of publication:
1831 shelfmark: F.3.a.13(15)
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