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Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'


This report begins: 'A full and particular account of the Trial and Sentence of John Thomson and David Dobie, carters, Gilmerton, who are to be Executed at Edinburgh, on Wednesday 18th August, for the Assault, Rape, Murder and Robbery of Margaret Paterson, and their bodies to be given for Dissection.' Printed for Wm. Robertson.

Part of a sequence of broadsides dedicated to this particular rape and murder, this news-sheet updates the horrific story by informing readers about the trial and subsequent sentence of the two murderers. The tone of the broadside is rather verbose and text-heavy, and this perhaps indicates that the anonymous writer was closely following a transcript of what the lawyers said in court, since proceedings were held behind closed doors. The closing paragraph describes how the prisoners were both found guilty and sentenced to death, with their bodies being sent to a medical school immediately after execution for dissection. It would appear that sending corpses straight from the scaffold to an anatomy class was an old tradition.

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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Probable date published: 1829   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(57)
Broadside entitled 'Trial and Sentence'
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