This report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of Thomas M'Kay, who stood his Trial before the Special Commission, at Ayr, on Wednesday, the 9th of August, 1820; and who is to be Hanged, Beheaded and Quartered, on the 15th September, 1820.' The sheet was published in 1820 by John Muir of Glasgow.
As can be seen from the opening paragraphs to this broadside, a Special Commission comprised a large group of high-ranking judges who presided over cases that were especially sensitive. Although the four accused men are charged with high treason, frustratingly, the details of their alleged crimes are not mentioned. However, it seems likely that their alleged crimes were linked to widespread political unrest in Scotland, which in turn fits into the broader picture of political agitation unrest that existed throughout Britain at this time. Although Thomas McKay was sentenced to death, it is not clear if the sentence was in fact carried out - suggesting that the sentence may have been later commuted.
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(012)
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