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Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'

Commentary

This report begins: 'A full true and particular account of the Trial and Sentence of William Gilchrist, George Gilchrist, and James Brown, who were tried before the High Court of Justiciary on Wednedsay 13th July, on a charge of abstracting a box from the Prince Regent coach from Glasgow to Edinburgh, containing L.5712 6s on the 24th March last, when George Gilchrist was sentenced to be executed on the 3d of August next - William Gilchrist and Brown were dismissed from the bar.' This sheet was published by Murdoch McRae. Using an 'L' was an old-fashioned way of writing the sign, so the amount stolen was 5712, which would be worth approximately 280,000 today.

Priced at a halfpenny, this broadside report tells of a sensational robbery of a stagecoach, involving the highwayman dressing up as a woman to commit his ingenious crime. Disguised as a woman, the robber, George Gilchrist, used a chisel to break into the coach?s boot, whereupon he then prised open the bank box to steal the money. The aim of ?the bloody code? (known as ?the criminal code? in Scotland) was to protect property above all else, so George Gilchrist was sentenced to death.

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: F.3.a.13(51)
Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'
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