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

Broadside entitled 'Public Whipping'


This crime report begins: 'An Account of the Public Whipping of JOHN KEAN, on Wednesday the 11th of May, 1825, for Laiming and Wounding, with intent to Murder, JOHN GRAHAM, Cotton Spinner in Barrowfield Road, on the 30th March last, and who is to be transported for life.' The sheet was published in 1825 by William Carse of Glasgow.

This broadside describes the unleashing of a new form of punishment for criminals who were convicted of violent offences: the dreaded 'cat o' nine tails'. Before describing the administering of this sentence, the author stresses that whipping has been introduced to make the streets safer for the public. With the prisoner, John Kean, standing on the execution scaffold, he received between 80-90 lashes on his bare back before being carried away to prison. As the judge felt that Kean's attempt to murder a man deserved more than a whipping, the prisoner was then transported for life. The sheet concludes with a chilling warning to others regarding their future conduct - thus highlighting the social control element of broadsides.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1825   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(078)
Broadside entitled 'Public Whipping'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland