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Broadside entitled 'An Epitaph on Mr Samuel Smith, Minister of Newgate'


This epitaph begins: 'UNDER this Stone / Lies a reverend Drone, / Who preach'd against sin / with a terrible Grin, / In which some may think / that he acted but Odly / Since he liv'd by the wicked / and not by the Godly.' A note at the foot of this sheet states that it was originally printed in London, then 'Reprinted at the Foot of the Horse-weynd', in Edinburgh.

This bawdy and irreverent broadside fondly commemorates the passing of Mr Samuel Smith, whose parish was the infamous Newgate Prison, and whose flock consisted of 'Newgate Burds'. Judging by the verses to this epitaph, Smith appeared to take a rather mercenary approach to tending his flock, and it seems he would willingly convert prisoners into saints if the garnishing fee were to his pleasing. Indeed, the epitaph's numerous references to the rope suggest that Mr Smith's main vocation in life was to attend to those prisoners who were awaiting the death sentence.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable date published: 1720-   shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(150)
Broadside entitled 'An Epitaph on Mr Samuel Smith, Minister of Newgate'
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