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

Broadside entitled 'Execution'


This report of an execution begins: 'A Genuine account of the execution of Thomas Black, who was executed at Edinburgh this day for Housebreaking with a sketch of his life and transactions since his infancy.'

The second paragraph of this report is identical to another broadside in the National Library of Scotland's collection. In the latter, the text is credited with having been copied from the Edinburgh Star newspaper. This was a common way in which broadsides were assembled quickly and cheaply. Stories could be taken from the larger, more expensive newspapers, and padded out with information that had appeared in earlier broadsides or newspapers. The case itself demonstrates the harshness of Scots law in 1823. The convict, from a poor family, is hanged for housebreaking at only eighteen years of age.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1823   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(6)
Broadside entitled 'Execution'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland