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Broadside entitled 'The Condemned or, The Last Moments of William Perrie'


This execution ballad begins: 'The morning came, the hours flew past:- / Yea, the fatal hour, poor Perrie's last, / Drew near, on which he was to die, / And meet his God, his Judge on high.' Perrie was 'Executed at Paisley, October 18th, 1837'. Under the title a small quotation has been provided: '"He died, as erring man should die, / Without display, without parade."' This broadside was printed by Caldwell and Sons.

Glasgow-born William Perrie was executed for murdering Mary Mitchell, his wife of less than a year, in a fit of jealous rage. His executioner was John Murdoch who, although based in Glasgow, followed the Circuit Courts. Rather than employing their own executioner, it appears that Paisley relied on the services of the Glasgow 'hangman'. The National Library of Scotland's collection contains further broadsides regarding Perrie, including 'a very affecting and interesting letter, written by William Perrie, before his execution'.

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: 1837   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(116)
Broadside entitled 'The Condemned or, The Last Moments of William Perrie'
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