This crime report begins: 'An Account of the Trial and Sentence of John Campbell, and William Helm, accused of culpable Homicide, whereby Alexr. Lawson a shearer met his death at Currie.'
This account of an apparently unprovoked assault reflects some of the prejudices and concerns that were common in nineteenth century Scotland. Vagrancy would have met with strong suspicion and resistance in some quarters, particularly in smaller communities, and here the victim is attacked after his family have sought lodgings in a Scottish village. Moreover, there is an implication of racial and religious prejudice. At the start of the report, the victim's widow confirms her Protestantism 'with peculiar emphasis', and it is revealed that the victim is native to Ireland. The perceived 'danger' of Catholicism was a sensitive issue during this period of significant Irish migration to 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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Probable date of publication:
1835-1836 shelfmark: F.3.a.13(98)
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