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Broadside entitled 'Genuine Copy'


This crime report begins: 'The Last Speech, Confession, and dying Declaration of JAMES M'KAEN, who was Executed at the Cross of Glasgow on a new erected Gibbet, on Wednesday the 25th of January 1797, and his body given to the Professor of Anatomy.' This report was extracted from the 'Historical Narrative of M'KAEN'S Life and Transactions', which was published by Brash and Reid of Glasgow.

McKaen (sometimes McKeehan), was sentenced to hang for murdering James Buchanan of Lanarkshire. This entire report, however, appears to be more of a publicity stunt to generate interest in this criminal's memoirs, than to report factual information to the public. There is a list of the most horrendous but compelling crimes detailed, which McKaen denies committing but directs the reader to his book for the in-depth evidence. This is very similar to the part publications, made by people in the public eye, in today's newspapers.

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: 1797   shelfmark: 6.365(092)
Broadside entitled 'Genuine Copy'
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