This trial report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of DONALD ELPHINSTONE, who is to be Executed at Edinburgh, on Wednesday morning, the 28th of July, 1824, for the Murder of Mary Stark, or Croket, his mother-in-law, on the 20th of Februrry last, in Libberton's Wynd, and whose body is to be given to Dr. A. Munro for Dissection.' This broadside was sold for one penny and printed on the day of the execution.
Elphinstone met his estranged wife, who had been living with another man, in Libberton's Wynd near the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and had an altercation with her. Her mother intervened and threw a pail of water at Elphinstone, who then stabbed her. She died 17 days later. It appears as though Elphinstone was a well-liked man and the outburst was very out of character. The judge seems to have felt pity for him but was unable to pass any other sentence for the crime of murder. It is ironic that he would probably have been publicly executed at the head of Libberton's Wynd in the Lawnmarket.
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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1824 shelfmark: F.3.a.14(27a)
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