This account begins: 'A correct Account of the Execution of JOHN KERR, who suffered at Greenock, on Wednesday the 6th of June, 1827, for the cruel and barbarous murder of his own Wife, with an account of his behaviour since his condemnation and on the Scaffold, and his affecting and interesting Address to the numerous Spectators.' The sheet was printed in Glasgow on the same day as the execution, by William Carse.
This was Greenock's first execution since 1817. A scaffold was erected in front of new church and a huge crowd gathered to witness it. 54-year-old Kerr had been a respected member of the community, with a ship rigging business but a combination of his and his wife's 'intemperance' had led to violence. His 'affecting speech' warns against alcohol abuse. It may have been a fabrication of the publisher's - a device to sell more copies of the story.
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:
1827 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(096)
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