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Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'

Commentary

This crime report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of JAMES MITCHELL and JOHN SHARP, who were tried before the High Court of Justiciary on Monday last, 11th July, and who are to be Executed at Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 17th August, 1825, for Highway Robbery.' This was published by Alexander Turnbull of Edinburgh, in 1825.

This broadside describes how a carter and horse dealer was forcibly robbed of 28 by two colleagues while returning from a horse-fair. It is interesting that the jury, on finding the accused guilty, recommend mercy. It is often perceived that there was an insatiable appetite for public executions in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Scotland, but it may be that only certain crimes fuelled the popular desire for revenge. In this case the decision to execute is a purely judicial one, taken by the judges against the jury's wishes.

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: 1825   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(99)
Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'
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