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Broadside concerning the apparent murder of a family by a beggar


This crime report begins: 'Account of one of the most horrid murders committed by a beggar man ever recorded; the father of the family was out shooting, and while absent, the beggar demanded of the woman the money he knew was in the house; the woman went up a ladder to where it was lying, and pulled it after her, by which she escaped from his bloody hands; he then took the two children, cut off their noses and ears, and then murdered them . . . ' The sheet was published by William Carse, who is listed as working from various addresses in Glasgow between 1820 and 1836.

With no names or dates regarding the 'crime' mentioned on this sheet, it could just be that this broadside is a work of fiction written to satisfy the morbid imagination of the public. However, since the public is generally fascinated by dark events, the chapmen probably had no difficulty in selling it to the public. At the start of the second part of the sheet, the place where this terrible event took place is named as Smolensko. This could be a reference to the town of Smolensk, in Russia. It appears, therefore, that this report might be based on happenings from somewhere far away, although it also contains strong elements that suggest it is a gruesome folk tale.

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: 1820-1836   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(018)
Broadside concerning the apparent murder of a family by a beggar
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