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Broadside regarding the murder of William Begbie and the apprehension of the culprit

Commentary

This account begins: 'An account of the wonderful discovery of the murderer of William Begbie, Porter to the British Linen Company's Bank, who was murdered in November, 1806, in the Bank Close, Nether Bow, and Robbed of nearly 5,000, with the whole particulars how the Murderer was discovered.' Unfortunately, no publication details have been included.

The National Library of Scotland's collection includes at least two other broadsides relating to this case, one of which details the character of the alleged murderer, James Moffat. An eye-witness account is provided here by 'a sailor', placing James Moffat 'or Mackcoull' in the area on the night Begbie was murdered. Whilst it is possible that Moffat did in fact murder Begbie, it is also possible that he was wrongly accused. After he was sentenced to be executed, 14 years after the crime had been committed, Moffat mysteriously died in his cell in the Calton Jail.

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: 1820   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(051)
Broadside regarding the murder of William Begbie and the apprehension of the culprit
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