The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside entitled 'Correct Account of the Riots Concerning Stealing Dead Bodies'


This report begins: 'Correct Account of THE RIOTS concerning Stealing Dead Bodies, in different parts of Glasgow On Saturday and Sunday, the 1st and 2d of March, 1823, with an account of the Dead Bodies, and the Heads, Limbs & pieces of Human Bodies Found.' This sheet was printed by Mayne & Co. who are known to have had premises in Glasgow around this time. A woodcut representing two coffins adorns the top of the sheet.

Before the Anatomy Act of 1832 the only legal way for a surgeon to obtain a cadaver for demonstration in lectures was to claim those of executed murderers. Because cases like this highlighted the desperate need for bodies, after 1832 surgeons were permitted to use bodies of people who had died in workhouses, providing no-one claimed them within 48 hours of death. This broadside illustrates the lengths doctors would go to to get a body, and the resultant public outrage.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1823   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(046)
Broadside entitled 'Correct Account of the Riots Concerning Stealing Dead Bodies'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland