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

Broadside entitled 'Trial And Sentence Of The Gilmerton Monsters'


This report begins: 'How now! Ye secret black and midnight fiends! / What's this ye do? A deed without a name! -- Shakespeare. Wi?mair o? horrible an? awfu? / That even to name would be unlawfu?! -- Burns. High Court of Justiciary. -- July 12, 1830.' Printed by Forbes and Owen. The opening quotations to this broadside by Shakespeare and Burns are from 'Macbeth' and 'Tam O?Shanter'.

Part of a sequence of broadsides dedicated to a murder that took place in Gilmerton, this second edition broadside informs readers about the court proceedings and subsequent sentence, with a detailed mention of the evidence. Found guilty of the murder, the magistrate sentences John Thomson and David Dobie to death, with their bodies being spirited away immediately after execution for dissection in an anatomy class. The broadside concludes with the observation that although Thomson trembled at the sentence, Dobie impudently - and rather imaginatively - informed the sentencing judge that 'They cannot dissect the soul'.

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: 1830-   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(58)
Broadside entitled 'Trial And Sentence Of The Gilmerton Monsters'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland