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Broadside entitled 'Execution!'


This report begins: 'A Full and Particular account of JOHN DEMPSEY, late Private Soldier in the 13th Regiment of Infantry, who was Executed at Edinburgh, on Wednesday morning, the given for dissection 13th of December, 1820, for Murder, committed at Greenock, in July last, and his Body given for Dissection ; including his Behaviour at the place of Execution.' This sheet was published by R. Watson of Edinburgh and cost one penny.

After an evening out on the town, Robert Dempsey and his fellow soldiers ended up fighting a group of sailors and some members of the public. One thing led to another, and the angry mob pursued Dempsey and his friends to their lodgings. The soldiers ran upstairs and fired at the mob, killing three of them. Only Dempsey was sentenced to death for these murders, his comrade, Robert Surrage, was banished for life. After summarising the story, the broadsheet reports Dempsey?s last words before he was 'launched into eternity'.

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: 1820   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(14)
Broadside entitled 'Execution!'
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