This crime report begins: 'Were brought out upon the scaffold erected on the top of the New Gaol, Horsemonger-lane, to undergo the Senteuce of the Law. Colonel Despard came the last upon the scaffold. He made a speech to the surrounding spectators, in which he declared his innocence of the crime for which he was condemned to die. His fellow sufferers said nothing, and all behaved with great decorum, and resignation to their fate.' The report is signed by someone called 'Pelham', and was published by J. Galbraith of Glasgow.
The leader of a gang of Irish rebels, Edward Marcus Despard was executed in Southwark, London, on the 21st of February, 1803, for committing the crime of High Treason. Although the writer goes into great details regarding Despard's last words, unfortunately, he does not tell his audience what in fact Despard did to deserve this terrible punishment. A colonel in the army, it appears that Despard planned to instigate a revolution, by means of hi-jacking mail coaches. At a time when Britain was fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, any disloyal acts were treated with the utmost severity.
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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1803 shelfmark: APS.3.82.27
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