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Broadside entitled 'MacKay poisoned ! !'


This crime report begins: 'It is now firmly believed that Sandy was hocussed, as they term it in the fancy, and the wretch who administered the soporific drug is unhesitatingly named through all the sporting houses'. A second report is also included which details the execution of Barney McGuire on June 7th 1830. This sheet, which cost a penny to buy, was printed for William Robertson.

Sensational stories such as these made extremely popular reading and were sold by the thousands. The sheets themselves were intended to be stuck to the wall for general reading and so had to appeal to a wide audience. This sheet features all the sensational aspects of crime reporting. The innocence of a poisoned competitor - a well-known Scottish prizefighter, Sandy MacKay (or M'Kay), references to other dark crimes, the gory details of the crimes and the repentance of a bad character. As with a lot of these reports parts of it have cribbed from other sources. Only one of these, however, has been attributed, the 'Glasgow Free Press'. MacKay or M'Kay was a West Highlander renowned for his strength and courage but was not a first-rate pugilist. His career included two victories over an Irishman Paul Spencer and a previous loss to Simon Byrne prior to their fatal second meeting. Byrne himself died in 1833 after a fight with James 'Deaf' Burke.

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: 1830   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(12)
Broadside entitled 'MacKay poisoned ! !'
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