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Broadside entitled 'The Last Speech'


This report begins: 'The last SPEECH Confession and Dying Declaration of WILLIAM TAYLOR, who was executed at Stirling on Friday the 28th day of May 1790, for the crime of housebreaking.'

Taylor's speech is intended as a warning to young people who have started breaking the law, that it is easy to get caught in a downward criminal spiral. Taylor's initial mistake was to get involved with the more 'dissolute' members of his profession. Before long, he had begun to involve himself in 'illicit practices' to support his drinking, and became an outcast in Perth, instead carrying out crimes in other towns. Eventually, these led to his arrest for housebreaking, and his death sentence.

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: 1790   shelfmark: 6.314(19)
Broadside entitled 'The Last Speech'
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