This execution report begins: 'An account of the Execution of two Servant Girls, Bridget Butterfly and Bridget Ennis, who suffered at Kilmainham Jail, on Friday the 4th of May, 1821, and their bodies given to Surgeon's Hall, for dissection, for the murder of Miss Thompson, a young lady, in whose house they once lived; to which is added, the whole confession they made of the Murder on the morning of their Exceution.' The sheet was published by William Carse, who is listed as working from various addresses in Glasgow between 1820 and 1836.
This broadside describes an execution of two servant girls at Kilmainham Jail, Dublin, who were sentenced to death for murdering their former mistress. With both of the accused poverty-stricken, it seems that the motive for the murder was one of financial gain - with which they would then flee to England. Certainly, the terrible violence of the attack is completely out of proportion to the stated aim of robbery. The report ends with a stern warning to servants, advising them to beware of jealousy and ill-will.
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:
1821 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(020)
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