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

Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'


This report begins: 'An account of the Trial and Sentence of William Titting or Knox, and John M'Kenzie or M'Kinlay, who are to be executed at Edinburgh, on the 15th day of December next, for breaking into a house in Charlotte Square.' This broadside was sold for a penny and was published by the booksellers, probably of Edinburgh.

These two men were sentenced to death for breaking into Captain John Forbes Drummond of Hawthornden's home in Edinburgh's affluent New Town, and stealing 'a great quantity of articles'. They were arrested, along with an unnamed woman, as they made their getaway down Fishmarket Close off the Royal Mile. The woman was sentenced to transportation, probably to Australia. Execution for housebreaking was abolished by 1861, and transportation was formally abolished in 1868.

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 published: 1824   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(29)
Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland