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Broadside entitled 'Execution'


This report begins: 'Execution of CHARLES DONALDSON, Sail-maker, Tolbooth Wynd, Leith, who was Executed this morning at the head of Libberton's Wynd, for the murder of Margaret Marr, his wife.' This sheet was published by Sanderson of the High Street, Edinburgh, on the 4th April, 1836.

This broadside tells the dreadful story of how Charles Donaldson was executed for beating his wife, Margaret Marr, to death with a frying pan. It emerged during the trial that Donaldson often beat his wife, as he was fed up with her addiction to drink. The catalyst for the murder appears to have been his wife locking him out from the house. As can be seen from the accompanying woodcut illustration, the broadside focuses much attention on the procession to the scaffold, and how Donaldson conducted himself during his last journey.

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: 1836   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(73)
Broadside entitled 'Execution'
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