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Broadside entitled 'Execution of Charles McEwen'


This crime report begins: 'A correct and Particular Account of the Execution of CHARLES M'EWEN, commonly called "The Cock of the North," who was Hanged on Wednesday the 7th April 1824, at the head of Libberton Wynd, Edinburgh, for the Barbarous Murder of Margaret Mooney, in October last, on a Moor in Aberdeenshire; and his Body given for Dissection, with his Behaviour at the Place of Execution.' The broadside was published by Alexander Turnbull of Edinburgh on April 7th 1824, and priced at one penny.

Although this report claims to contain a 'particular account' of the execution of Charles McEwen, the scene at the scaffold is barely mentioned, unlike some other broadside reports of executions which describe the hanging in great detail. Instead, this broadside is concerned mainly with the life of the condemned man, and the circumstances of his crime. What stands out about Charles McEwen is his restlessness. He apparently had children by several women, and travelled widely around the north of Scotland. He also used several names, suggesting he had committed previous crimes. It is noted in the broadside that even while manacled and awaiting execution, McEwen could not contain his restless spirit.

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(28)
Broadside entitled 'Execution of Charles McEwen'
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