The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside entitled 'Execution of Mrs M'Kinnon'


This execution notice begins: 'Who was Executed at Edinburgh on Wednesday morning the 16th April, 1823, in the presence of 30,000 spectators, for the Murder of Mr. Wm. Howat, and her body given for dissection; with an account of her Dress, Behaviour, and Dying Declaration on the scaffold.' It was published in Glasgow by John Muir.

It was not unusual for huge crowds to gather at a hanging but certain cases attracted more attention than others. This case was extremely popular as the details of it proved to be quite salacious and lurid. After being abandoned by her family and lover but being left with an illegitimate son, Mary MacKinnon opened a public house and brothel. This appeal to the public's morbid curiosity is taken further in this text by the descriptions of her mind, apparel and physicalities.

Reports recounting dark and salacious deeds were popular with the public, and, like today's sensationalist tabloids, sold in large numbers. Crimes could generate sequences of sheets covering descriptive accounts, court proceedings, last words, lamentations and executions as they occurred. As competition was fierce, immediacy was paramount, and these occasions provided an opportunity for printers and patterers to maximise sales.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1823   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(048)
Broadside entitled 'Execution of Mrs M'Kinnon'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland