This account begins: 'A true account of the Behaviour and Execution of JOHN M'CANNA and JOSEPH RICHARDSON, a farmer, who were hanged at Dumfries on Wednesday the 14th of May, 1823, for uttering Forged Notes on the Ship Bank of Glasgow. Also, an affecting account of their last interview with their Parents, Wives, and Children, the night before their execution.' It was printed by John Muir of Glasgow, and probably sold for one penny.
Although Joseph Richardson's brother, William, was also convicted for the same crime, he was granted a reprieve following a petition 'sent up to the fountain of mercy in favour of these unhappy men'. John M'Canna (also spelt McKana or McKena) and Joseph, however, were granted no such reprieve. It is said that the Richardson brothers were from a respectable family and, prior to their unfortunate meeting with McCanna, were beyond reproach. McCanna was a 39 year old Irish emigrant. He married a Lockerbie woman and worked as a roadman. The National Library of Scotland's broadside collection includes at least one other broadside detailing the execution of the two men.
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.
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Date of publication:
1823 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(056)
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