This crime report begins: 'A particular Account of a most horrid Instance of Child-murder, attended with Circumstances of the greatest Barbarity, which was discovered at Thorney Bank on Wednesday last, when Catherine Weir, alias M'Quarry, the Mother, was apprehended and committed to the Tolbooth of Glasgow on suspicion of having perpetrated the Murder.' The broadside was published by T. Duncan of the Saltmarket in Glasgow.
The report on this sheet describes the discovery of the body of a newborn child in a ditch, by a young boy. At the time the report was written the case had not gone to trial, but the child's mother was suspected of having committed the murder. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was not uncommon for the mothers of illegitimate babies to be driven to murdering them. Illegitimacy carried a huge social stigma, and as well as the public shame endured by women who had given birth to illegitimate children, the mothers often had no financial means of supporting a child.
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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Probable date published:
1800 shelfmark: APS.4.82.27
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