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Broadside entitled 'Trial & Sentence'


This report begins: 'Trial & Sentence of JAMES BELL, Private in the Fifth Dragoon Guards, for the Murder of Serjeant-major Moorhead, by shooting him with a pistol at Piershill Barrachs, on Sunday the 17th May last.' Published by Sanderson of the High Street, Edinburgh, on the 22nd June 1835.

This broadside tells the tragic story of a Private James Bell who, when refused leave by Sergeant-Major Moorhead, shot the officer dead with a pistol. After outlining the basic details of the incident, the sheet goes on to give an account of the trial and the case for the defence. Although the defence attempts to offer a plea of 'insanity', this is rejected and the mutinous soldier is found guilty and sentenced to death. It is interesting to note that this case was tried in a civil court rather than a military court, which is quite unusual.

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: 1835   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(72)
Broadside entitled 'Trial & Sentence'
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