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Broadside entitled 'Lines On The Gilmerton Murder'


This ballad begins: 'There was these murderers Emond, Stewart, Burk and Hare, / These men to take men?s lives they did not care ; / Their victims by some means speedily dispatched away, / But the female in torture a long time did lay. / When her murderers forced their lust to fulfil, / Afterwards the wretches the body would kill ; / But the soul was far beyond these wretches reach, / A lesson to all such heathens for to teach.' Published by Robert Hodge, Edinburgh.

Part of a sequence of broadsides dedicated to the Gilmerton murder, this sheet follows the news and investigative reports of the murder with a ballad of doggerel verses. It is likely that this ballad would have been read out by someone who had a gift for dramatic storytelling, while members of the public gathered round to listen to the narrator. The ballad itself is very religious in tone, with numerous references to the Almighty and the conflict between good and evil. It would appear that after the initial reports of an event had been published, it was customary to quickly follow them with a ballad specially dedicated to the subject. It is interesting to consider what this pattern suggests about the publishing of broadsides.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Date of publication: 1830   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(56)
Broadside entitled 'Lines On The Gilmerton Murder'
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