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Broadside entitled 'Execution of James Campbell for Housebreaking and Theft'


This report begins: 'This Morning JAMES CAMPBELL underwent the last sentence of the law . . . for breaking into the cellar-store of Messrs. Watson, M'Night & Co. . . . on the 23d February last, and stealing therefrom four boxes and a basket full of cotton yarn.' It was published on 16th May 1831 by John Muir, who, although no address is given, is known to have worked out of Glasgow.

James Campbell had already been sentenced to death for housebreaking, at Glasgow in 1822 but had his sentence was commuted, to transportation for life. It turns out he never did leave, and served his time aboard hulks on the River Thames. He was released in August 1820 and soon returned to crime. Now aged 36, he was not to be given another chance.

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: 1831   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(112)
Broadside entitled 'Execution of James Campbell for Housebreaking and Theft'
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