The crime report begins: An Account of the Trial of ROBERT FERGUSON, before the Circuit Court of Justiciary at Inverness, which was opened on the 15th of September, 1812, for the wilful Murder of CAPTAIN CHARLES MONRO, of his Majesty's 42d Regiment, and for which crime he is to be executed at Inverness, on Friday the 30th of October next, and his Body given for Dissection.' It was published by Thomas Duncan of Glasgow.
According to this report, Robert Ferguson denied murder on grounds of self-defence, but the witness statements suggest that after an initial argument with Captain Monro, Ferguson left for a short time and returned to the smithy armed with a knife. Evidently the jury believed that this suggested premeditated aggression, and found Ferguson guilty. The giving of Ferguson's body for dissection was an additional punishment: many believed that unless they were buried in consecrated ground, they could not gain Christian salvation.
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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1812 shelfmark: 6.365(101)
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