This crime report begins: 'Full, True and Particular Account of the Trial and Conviction this day, before the High Court of Justiciary, of the Great and most Notorious Thief John Wilson, and of his Companions Duncan Robertson and Thomas Hamilton, for Three different Robberies and Housebreakings, committed in Edinburgh, - together with the full Evidence given by the Accomplice John Gibson, formerly a respectable Merchant on the South Bridge. / HIGH COURT OF JUSTICIARY.?July, 3, 1831.' This sheet was published by Forbes and Owen of Edinburgh.
The business 'Forbes and Owen' went through many variations during its working career. It was initially known as Forbes and Owen for just over a year before changing to 'Forbes and Kay'. It was known as this for, again, just over a year. For the next two years the title 'Forbes and Co.' was used, before eventually being known as just 'J. Forbes'. The business disappears from the records altogether in November 1834. During this entire period mainly chapbooks and broadsides were produced. The broadsides covered most of the topical events of their time and in some of the most sensationalist styles. The end of this broadside is revealing, both about the mechanisms of production and the sales pitch. The audience is told that more facts will be reported in the next edition along with another mysterious story of avid interest!
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:
1831 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(106)
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