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Broadside entitled 'Trials'


This report begins: 'A particular Account of the proceedings on the State Trials, which commenced at Stirling on the 13th July, 1820. A state trial was very different from a criminal trial, in that it was a trial held for alleged crimes against the state - in other words, treason. This sheet was published in 1820 by John Muir of Glasgow.

This fascinating broadside reports on a state trial that took place after a group of Radicals, who had the audacity to demand their political rights, were charged with treason. Much of the legal argument reported in the sheet is taken up with what in fact constitutes high treason - this being the crucial element in this case, since treason was then a capital offence. The list of accused men also reveals much about working life in Scotland at this time, with most of the men being weavers. Tragically, the two ringleaders, Andrew Hardie and John Baird, were found guilty of treason and were executed at Stirling in September, 1820.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Date of publication: 1820   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(008)
Broadside entitled 'Trials'
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