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Broadside entitled 'Third Edition Of The Gilmerton Murderers'


This report begins: 'How now! Ye secret black and midnight fiends! / What's this ye do? A deed without a name! -- Shakespeare. High Court of Justiciary. -- July 12, 1830.' Printed by Forbes and Owen. The opening quotation to this broadside is taken from 'Macbeth'.

Part of a sequence of broadsides dedicated to a terrible murder that took place near Gilmerton, this third edition broadside moves between the courtroom and 'the condemned cell'. After providing details of the crime, the broadside then considers the demeanour of the two accused carters - John Thomson and David Dobie - as they enter 'the condemned cell'. Following a summary from The Lord Justice Clerk that often threatens to turn into a hellfire sermon, the prisoners are told that their bodies will be spirited away immediately after execution for dissection in an anatomy class. 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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Date published: 1830-   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(59)
Broadside entitled 'Third Edition Of The Gilmerton Murderers'
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