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Broadside entitled 'Murder'


This report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Life, Transactions, Confessions, and Behaviour of Margaret Davidson, who was Executed at Aberdeen, on Friday the 8th October 1830, for the most atrocious and inhuman Murder of her Husband, by pouring Poison down his throat while asleep, and her body afterwards given for Dissection.' This sheet was published by Robertson and Co.

With a chilling, Bruegel-like illustration of a gallows underneath the Murder headline, this broadside tells the woeful story of Margaret Davidson, who was executed for poisoning her husband while he slept. After demonising the woman for her evil crime, there is a change in tone as Davidson's confession appears in the narrative. Forgiveness from God, redemption and a warning to others are the main themes in such confessions from the prisoner in 'the condemned cell'. The broadside concludes with the execution and the body being whisked away to a medical school for dissection. This sheet is part of a series of broadsides on this particular subject, with the others available for viewing in the National Library of Scotland.

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(55)
Broadside entitled 'Murder'
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