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Broadside entitled 'Execution'


This account of a murderer's confession and execution begins: 'Confession and Execution of HUGH MACLEOD, Who was Executed at Inverness, on the 24th of October, for the atrocious MURDER of MURDO GRANT, Pedlar, from Locbroom.' It was published by R. Cobban & Co. Aberdeen, in 1830.

Despite the brevity of many broadsides, they often reflect a great deal about the society in which they were produced. Note here for example, that although the broadside is written in English, the murderer addresses the crowd at his execution in Gaelic. In 1830 the Highlands were predominantly Gaelic-speaking. Broadsides would not have been written in Gaelic, however, as the language was rarely written and very few were able to read or write it. The translation of Hugh Macleod's last words suggest that author of this broadsheet, as well as being literate in English, is likely to have been bilingual in English and Gaelic.

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(68)
Broadside entitled 'Execution'
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