This crime report begins, 'Copy of the Melancholy and Sorrowful LAMENTATION of ROBERT TENNANT, the young man who is now confined in the Jail of Stirling, and who is to be Executed there on the morning of Wednesday th 2d of October, 1833, for the bloody Murder of William Peddie, an old man, about 70 years of age, on the high road between Beancross and Kerse Toll, parish of Falkirk, on the evening of the 3d of August last.' Published in Edinburgh by Menzies, this broadside, which boasts two fine woodcuts and a poem about the event, was sold for one penny.
Peddie and Tennant were labourers who, on the day of the murder, were working together breaking stones for the road. Mr Borthwick, the Superintendent, had ordered Tennant off the job because his drinking and poor timekeeping made him a liability. Peddie, the foreman, wanted to keep Tennant on but was forced to back down. At midday, Peddie had woken Tennant from a drunken sleep at the side of the road and told him the news. A row ensued which 'ended in the murder of the poor old man'.
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:
1833 shelfmark: F.3.a.13(95)
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