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Broadside relating the 'sorrowful lamentations of William Thomson'


This lamentation begins: 'The sorrowful Lamentations of William Thomson, who is now lying under the awful sentence of Death, in the Calton Jail, and who is to be executed on Thursday the 1st of March, at Dalkeith, with an account of his behaviour since his condemnation.'

As well as a prose account, there is also a ballad here, written in the first person, giving a more subjective take on Thomson's state of mind. Two other men were sentenced to death (for robbing a farmer) along with Thomson, John Fram and James Thomson. The latter two men were given a reprieve however and, although it is not mentioned here, other broadsides in the National Library of Scotland's collection tell us this was because they informed police about a murder Thomson had apparently committed two years earlier. Thomson was the only man ever to have been hung at Dalkeith.

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: 1827   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(39)
Broadside relating the 'sorrowful lamentations of William Thomson'
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