This execution notice begins: 'An Account of the Last Days, Behaviour and Execution of JAMES BRYCE, Labourer, who was Executed here this morning, 3d April, 1844, for the Murder of his Brother-in-Law, John Geddes, at Blaw Wearie, parish of West Calder, on 27th December last.' There is a woodcut illustration of gallows and body included above the title. This illustration is quite common on execution notices.
This case must have caused a stir at the time as there are other sheets held in the National Library of Scotland's collection covering the progression of the case. Both the trial details and a more personal account of the crime and Bryce's state of mind were also published. Here, however, the hours before his execution are described and then the manner of his death.
Broadsides are often crudely illustrated with woodcuts - the earliest form of printed illustration, first used in the mid-fifteenth century. Inclusion of an illustration on a broadside increased its perceived value, especially among the illiterate. To keep costs down, publishers would normally reuse their limited stock of generic woodcuts.
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Date of publication:
1844 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(339)
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