This crime report begins: 'AT Five o'clock this Evening WILLIAM BEGBIE, Porter to the British Linen Company at Leith, was Stabbed and Murdered in Tweedale's Close, leading to the British Linen Company's Office at Edinburgh, and Robbed of a Sealed Parcel, in a Yellow Canvas Bag, containing the following particulars . . .' The publisher was Alexander Smellie of Edinburgh, and the broadside is dated November 13th, 1806.
The murder described in this report was motivated by a robbery that must have appeared extraordinary in its scale and ambition in 1806, when it was carried out. The murderer escaped with almost £4,400, an amount that in 2003 would be worth more than £180,000. It is inconceivable today that cash in such quantity would be carried virtually unguarded between two businesses. The seriousness with which the crime was regarded is reflected in the reward of 500 guineas that was offered to the person who helped to catch the murderer.
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:
1806 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(245)
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