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Broadside report of a murdering publican in the Scottish Highlands, nineteenth century

Commentary

This report begins: 'A Horrible Account of a Man who kept a public-house in the Highlands who murdered and Robbed almost every person that stopped in his house, giving an account of a man who stopped in his house, with a curious discovery of the landlord.' The report is apparently written by Sandy McToysh, although no date or other publication details are provided.

Unusually, this sheet is printed in two columns, very close together, with a thin black line dividing them. It tells the story of an inn-keeper near Inverness, who was in the habit of murdering his guests for their valuables. He was only caught after his wife stopped him killing one such lodger, Andrew Johnston. Undetterred and determined to get his hands on Johnson's 200, the inn-keeper attempted to have the man arrested for stealing. However, he was not to know that Johnston was of reputable character. When the inn was searched and valuables were found alongside human bones, the landlord could do nothing but confess to having murdered around 15 of his customers.

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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Probable period of publication: 1820-1830   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(079)
Broadside report of a murdering publican in the Scottish Highlands, nineteenth century
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