This crime report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of JAMES CAMPBELL, who is to be Executed, at Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 19th January 1825, for Assault and Robbery, in broad day light in Nicolson Street in Edinburgh on the 17th of August last.' This sheet was published by James McLean, in Edinburgh, and would have cost a penny to buy.
James Campbell was convicted of robbery and murder, after having mugged and struck John Horner in Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. Campbell asserted that he was unaware of the assault but had robbed Horner of personal effects, in the hope that a lenient sentence would be passed. The judges, however, felt that daylight robbery was an aggravated offence and no witnesses could be produced to attest his social behaviour. In common with other reports of the time, the judge's comments on repentance and making peace with God were reported, as was the prisoners grief. This sort of moralising would have reached a wide audience due to the public way in which broadsides were read.
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:
1825 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(59)
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