This crime report begins: 'A / DECLARATION / OF / Mr. ROBERT IRVING, / Who Murdered John and Alexander Gordon's, / Edinburgh, 29 April, 1717.'
Not only does the style of the English make this story a little hard to follow, but the major contradiction in the narrative also leads to some confusion. It is stated that this text was declared by Robert Irving and that he is now brought to trial for it. Further down the page, however, it is also reported that, after committing the two murders, Irving slit his own throat and threw himself in the water. Irving's motives for his actions are not revealed at any point either. It would be interesting to know what contemporary readers thought of this account!
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:
1717 shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(034f)
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