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Broadside account of the trial and sentence of William Burke, 1828


This report begins: 'A full account of the Trial and Sentence of William Burke this day, the West Port Murderers, who is to be executed on Wednesday the 28th January.' The execution was to take place in 1829. Burke's trial was on Christmas Eve, 1828. Unfortunately no publisher is given.

Burke, together with his accomplice William Hare, has become a famous part of Edinburgh's gruesome past. They were murderers, who sold cadavers to the medical school. Burke was convicted of three murders, and was tried alongside his partner, Helen McDougall. McDougall, Hare and his wife, were not charged, although the National Library of Scotland holds some broadsides telling of the public's anger towards them as they tried to lead normal lives after the trial.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Date of publication: 1828   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(012)
Broadside account of the trial and sentence of William Burke, 1828
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