This report begins: 'An Account of the Trial of James Wilson, which came on before the Lords Commissioners at Glasgow on Thursday and Friday the 20th and 21st of July, 1820. accused of High Treason, and who was found Guilty, but recommended to the mercy of the Crown.' The sheet was published in 1820 by John Muir of Glasgow.
As the decade following the end of the Napoleonic Wars is generally regarded as the era when Britain came closest to undergoing a revolution, the Establishment cracked down hard on sedition by enforcing the treason law with great severity. The trial report contained in this broadside is part of this wider historical context. Indeed, the delicate nature of this state trial certainly presented the authorities with a dilemma, a fact demonstrated by the long list of high-ranking judges named in the opening paragraph. The great sensitivity of this trial is also illustrated by the jury's careful decision to temper its guilty verdict, with a recommendation that James Wilson be shown mercy - a recommendation that fell on deaf ears.
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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1820 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(010)
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