This trial report begins: 'An account of the Trial of John Skelton, which came on before the High Court of Justiciary, at Edinburgh, on Monday the 2d of March, 1812, for Rioting and Robbery, on the streets of Edinburgh, on New Year's Morning last, and who is to be executed in that City, on Wednesday the 15th of April next. -Also the indictment of Six Persons, concerned in the same Riots, and accused of the Murder of Dugald Campbell, Police Officer.' It was published by Thomas Duncan of 159 Saltmarket, Glasgow.
Thomas Duncan's business premises at 159 Saltmarket, were in the heart of Glasgow's publishing district. According to Adam McNaughtan, 'Of the twenty-four people engaged in the book trade [in the early nineteenth century] eleven had their premises in the Saltmarket'. Prior to setting up business on his own, Duncan is thought to have been a partner in the firm of Robert and Thomas Duncan until 1785. Throughout the early nineteenth century, Duncan's main competitors were two other prominent broadside publishers, William Carse and John Muir. All three men vied to be the first to deliver trial reports, last words and circuit court lists to an eager public.
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: 6.314(27)
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