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Broadside concerning the criminal career and death of James Moffat


This report begins: 'Life and Memoirs of James Moffat, who was sentenced at Edinburgh to be Executed, and who died in the Calton Jail, on Wednesday se'ennight, containing an account of his wicked career, and Robberies in Britain and abroad ; also, an account of the terrible agony he experienced before his Death, and in the course of the night, during which his dreadful exclamations terrified those around him ; he was a native of Edinburgh.' The name of the publisher is not included on this sheet.

The man sometimes known as James Moffat, is the protean vagabond who is the subject of this gothic horror broadside. A man of many names and roles, it seems that his whole life was composed of frauds, robberies and other illegal enterprises - hence the sheet's comparison to that master criminal of disguises, Deacon Brodie. Seeking an explanation for his deviant behaviour, the anonymous writer analyses Moffat's early life and concludes that it was his alienation from God that led to his fall. Moffat died mysteriously in Calton Prison while awaiting execution.

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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Probable date published: 1819-   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(9)
Broadside concerning the criminal career and death of James Moffat
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