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Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'


This crime report begins 'A Full and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of GEORGE LAIDLAW, who is to be Executed at Glasgow, on Wednesday the 29th of October, 1823, for the crime of Housebreaking and Theft.' It was published by Allan Grant of Edinburgh in 1823, and priced at one penny.

The structure of broadside trial reports can vary quite considerably. In this example, the evidence given by the various witnesses is transcribed in the first person with very little additional editorial comment, so that the report reads almost like a play script. The report gives us an interesting cross-section of Glasgow society when Glasgow was a modest-sized town. It seems that various witnesses, like the Jewish jeweller Moses Solomon, Stewart the shopman, and even Laidlaw the defendant, were already quite familiar with each other.

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: F.3.a.14(3b)
Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'
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