This trial report begins: 'A Full, correct, and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of MARY ELDER or SMITH, wife of David Smith, Farmer at Denside, Parish of Monikie, and county of Forfar, who was tried at Edinburgh, on Monday the 19th February 1827, for the wilful Murder of Margaret Warden, a young woman, her own Servant Maid, by Administering Poison to her, on the 5th September last, in consequence of which she Died the third day after; but the libel was found Not Proven.' This broadside was printed for William Robertson.
Although broadsides were largely sold by pedlars who bought them directly from the printer, they could also be purchased from some booksellers and stalls. There were a number of booksellers by the name of William Roberston trading in the early nineteenth century. Unfortunately, there is no way of determining which particular Robertson this broadside was printed on behalf of. Whilst there was a bookseller registered by that name at 47 Broughton Street, Edinburgh (Edinburgh Directory, 1846), there were two others - one in Blairgowrie and one in Aberdeen - with premises closer to Forfar.
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:
1827 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(77)
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