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Broadside entitled 'Murder of Betsy Smith'


This murder ballad begins: 'COME all false hearted young men and listen to my song, / It's of a dreadful murder that lately has been done ; / On the body of a damsel fair, the truth I will unfold, / The bare relation of this deed will make your blood run cold.' It was published by Robert McIntosh of 96 King Street, Calton, Glasgow, and includes a rather crude woodcut illustration.

Although no date has been provided on this broadside, Robert McIntosh was registered at the above address in the 1849 Edinburgh Directory. It is, therefore, safe to assume that this broadside was published in the mid-nineteenth century. Although in most cases broadsides reported local crimes and events, news of particularly gruesome or notable crimes often travelled the length of the country. In this case a murder committed near Manchester has reached a Glasgow publisher.

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.

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Probable date of publication: 1820-1860   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(126)
Broadside entitled 'Murder of Betsy Smith'
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