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Broadside ballad entitled 'Lamentation of Peter Henderson'


This ballad is prefaced with a short prose introduction which reads: 'Lamentation of PETER HENDERSON, late Letter Stamper in the General Post Office, Edinburgh, and who is to be Executed here on Wednesday the 16th July, 1828, for abstracting Money from and Destroying the Letters.' The ballad begins: 'O all who hear of my sad state, / Oh pity my dire case'. The broadside was published by William Henry of Edinburgh and priced at one penny.

A capital crime could inspire a whole series of broadsides, covering different aspects of the case such as the circumstances of the crime, the trial, the execution and the condemned's alleged last words. Lamentations also sometimes featured. These were poems written partly as warnings to the public not to follow a life of crime. Although most were probably composed by anonymous broadside journalists, they were usually written with the condemned criminal as narrator, and involved, as in this example, the criminal dreading his or her fate, repenting and asking for God's forgivness, as well as offering dire warnings to the audience.

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: 1828   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(46)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Lamentation of Peter Henderson'
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