This execution report begins: 'A Full, and Particular, Account of the Execution of John Wilson, and Duncan Fraser, who were Executed, at the Head of Libberton Wynd, on Wednesday morning the 28th January 1824, for Housebreaking and Theft, with a Particular Account, of their Behaviour since their condemnation, and at the place of Execution.' Published in Edinburgh for James Dogherty, this broadside was sold for a penny.
Wilson and Fraser were caught stealing clothes from a tailor's shop in St Mary's Wynd, Edinburgh. Although their crime would not normally have been punishable by death, they were habitual offenders and the judge believed he had no choice but to send them to the scaffold. The tone of the report is overwhelmingly one of pious regret. In common with many crime reports of the day, this broadside is attempting to teach its readers the lesson that Wilson and Fraser did not learn.
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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1824 shelfmark: F.3.a.14(17)
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