This crime report begins: 'A true account of the interesting trial of Robert Makintosh, who was tried at the Circuit Court of Justiciary at Aberdeen for the cruel Murder of Elizabeth Anderson, his own Sweetheart, Also an account of the trial of William Gordon for the murder of his wife, who were both sentenced to be Executed on the 31st of May next.' The report is dated 16th April, but the year is not given, and the broadside carries no further publication details.
Some broadside crime reports were written in a highly melodramatic and emotive style which attempted to impress upon readers a sense of the horror of the crime and the wickedness of its perpetrators. The report on this sheet, however, appears to be almost a transcription of the court proceedings. The language is concerned only with the basic facts and the evidence presented by witnesses in the two cases described. In some places the author does not even try to construct proper sentences, instead writing paragraphs that are lists of statements or observations separated by semi-colons. This suggests that the report was written quickly, in an attempt to make it the first published account of the cases. Both Mackintosh and Gordon were hanged in Aberdeen in May 1822.
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.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile
Probable date published:
1822 shelfmark: APS.5.96.2
View larger image