This execution notice begins: 'A Full, True, and Particular Account of the EXECUTION of JAMES BELL, late private in the 5th Dragoon Guards, who was Executed this morning, at the head of Libberton's Wynd, for the murder of Serjeant-Major Moorhead; together with his confession, his behaviour in the Jail and on the Scaffold, and a short Sketch of his Life.' It was published by Sanderson of Edinburgh's High Street in 1835.
Irishman Bell had shot his Sergeant-Major, after he had been refused leave. It is reported that Bell was very repentant for his crime, 'paying particular ttention to the religious instructions communicated to him by the Rev. Mr Hunter of the Tron Church'. The Tron Church is still standing, just off the Royal Mile, in Hunter Square. Presumably named after this same Reverend Hunter. The National Library of Scotland holds another broadside detailing Bell's trial.
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:
1835 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(171)
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