This report begins: 'Particular Account of JOHN WOOD, who is now under sentence of death at Perth, and is to be executed there on FRIDAY the 16th of July, and what is wonderful is to be tried at Edinburgh the day before his execution, for another crime, Housebreaking and Theft, and though he should be cleared of the second indictment, he must suffer the day following for his first offence, being one of the most singular circumstances which has ever occurred in Scotland.' The sheet was published by William Carse of Glasgow in 1824.
This broadside really does embody the dark concept of gallows humour. Already facing the death sentence for housebreaking and theft, the prisoner, John Wood, had previously received two stays of execution providing him with an extended six weeks of life. Astonishingly, however, Wood is to appear in court to face another housebreaking charge - the day before the date of his execution! To compound the irony of Wood's predicament, it seems highly likely that he will be found innocent of this second charge. Much of the second part of the sheet is taken up with discussion regarding Wood's religious frame of mind, while the last few lines offer sympathy and ask for an investigation into this most peculiar matter.
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:
1824 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(074)
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