This report begins: 'Of Two Men and Two Women before the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 5th of this month, November, 1823, for the barbarous Murder of Mr John M'Clure in July last, as he was returning from Ochiltree Sacrament to Ayr, when JAMES ANDERSON and DAVID GLEN were found Guilty, and sentenced to be Executed at Ayr, on Friday the 12th of December next, and their bodies to be given for dissection, with the conversation which took place between them and their visitors after their sentence.' The sheet was published by William Carse of Glasgow in 1823.
In its attempt to provide the audience with as much exciting content as possible, this sheet moves location from the courthouse to the condemned cell. On trial were a collier and a weaver from Ayr, who, while under the influence of alcohol, were found guilty of murdering a man who was returning from a religious ceremony. After the pronouncement of the death sentence, the writer focuses on the demeanour of the men as they face up to the enormity of what confronts them. There is a strong emphasis on finding redemption and inner peace through embracing religion, and the sheet's ending is confessional in tone.
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(066)
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