This execution notice begins: 'ELEGY / ON / The Death of PATRICK HAMILTON Younger of Green, who was beheaded at the Grassmerket of Edinburgh, upon the 5th of September 1716'. The elegy begins: 'My weeping Muse procees with murnful Tone'.
This sheet is unusual in that it is not a formal prose notice of Hamilton's execution, but rather is a poetic act of public mourning. Very little is known about Hamilton, except that which is stated here: he is a youth who 'accidentally' killed someone and is now to be hung. It is possible that someone who knew him commissioned this piece or that the case was well-publicised at the time. It is also possible that this poem was a standard plate owned by the printers, who simply changed the name and details for each separate order.
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:
1716 shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(034d)
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