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Broadside entitled 'Atrocious Case of Murder and Theft'


This crime report begins: 'A Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of MARGARET BOAG, at Edinburgh, on Monday 19th January 1824, charged with murdering Elizabeth Low, an Old Woman of 75 years of age, at Dunning in Perthshire, on the 18th February 1818; or with Theft and Reset of Theft, in stealing from her House a Quantity of Webs of Linen and Sheeting, and various other Articles, who was found Guilty of Theft, and Sentenced to be Transported beyond Seas for Life.' It was published by James Dougherty of Edinburgh in 1824, priced at one penny.

Margaret Boag escaped with her life, instead being sentenced to transportation, because the murder charge against her was found not proven. This is a verdict unique to Scottish criminal law that tends to be used in cases where the jury or sheriff feels the defendant may be guilty but does not have substantial enough evidence to convict beyond reasonable doubt. Although heavily criticised in some legal quarters, the not proven verdict continues to be used today.

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: 1824   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(8)
Broadside entitled 'Atrocious Case of Murder and Theft'
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