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Broadside entitled 'The Recent Gilmerton murder!'


This report begins: 'The Latest Account of interesting particulars relative to these most Iniquitous and Horrid Transactions, which lately took place near Gilmerton, in the county of Edinburgh. (Extracted from the North Briton newspaper of this day, Wednesday 5th May 1830.)' This sheet was published by John Craig of Edinburgh.

The most popular broadsides by far were those that recounted crime stories - the darker the crime the better - and this is another broadside from that genre. This broadside, quoting directly from a newspaper report, forms part of a sequence telling readers about the murder of a young woman near Gilmerton, by Edinburgh. It is quite a lengthy report, as the investigators try to jigsaw together what exactly happened to the woman, while the two accused men each try to implicate the other in the crime. Given that the entire article is surrounded by inverted commas, one wonders about copyright issues since broadsides often lifted stories straight from newspapers. It would appear that the two dashes near the end of the report is an early form of censorship.

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: 1830   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(54)
Broadside entitled 'The Recent Gilmerton murder!'
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