This crime report begins: 'An account of the Trial and Sentence of WATSON, the Radical, who fled from this country in the year 1820, and was to be Hanged in America on the 8th of February last, for the crimes of Housebreaking and Theft, with an account of his life since he landed in that country'. It was published by William Carse and probably sold for one penny.
This broadside takes the form of a letter 'received in Glasgow from Baltimore, dated Feb. 23d, 1822'. It details the activities of a man by the name of Watson, 'the Spafield leader of the London Radicals', who fled to America in 1820. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were a time of great political and social unrest in Britain, when radicals and their leaders were treated harshly by the law. Watson was very likely fleeing for his life when he landed in America. The irony is, once in America, he found himself sentenced to death for two fairly minor offences.
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:
1822 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(027)
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