This trial report begins: 'A particular account of the Trial and Sentence of ROBERT SCOTT, the Edinburgh Carrier to Earlstoun, who is to be Executed at the spot where he committed the horrid deed, on Wednesday, 29th October, 1823, for the barbarous murder of James Aitchison, cooper, and Robert Sim, horse-dealer, Greenlaw, on the road near Earlston, and who, after he had effected his horrid design, cut off their noses and put them in their mouths, with an account of his dreadful behaviour before the Court ; his body is to be sent to Edinburgh for dissection.' It was published by William Carse of Glasgow, and probably sold for one penny.
The National Library of Scotland's collection includes at least four other broadsides detailing this case. A particularly heinous crime, it would have attracted a lot of attention from the public. Special mention is given at the end of this broadside to the alleged mutilation of the victims' faces, along with the hope that, 'for the honour of Scotland', the account has been exaggerated. Shocking or unusual crimes could prove very lucrative for broadside printers as people rushed to read every grisly detail.
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:
1823 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(062)
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