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Broadside entitled 'Execution'


This crime report begins: 'Full, Authentic, and Particular Account of the Execution of PETER HAEMAN and FRANCOIS GAUTIEZ, who were Hanged within Flood-mark, at Leith, on Wednesday the 9th of January, 1822, for the Piratical seizure of the Schooner Jane of Gibraltar, on her voyage to the Brazils, and for the Barbarous Murder of Thomas Johnston, master, and James Paterson, seaman .'.. The other report begins: 'Execution of Peter Heaman and Francois Gautiez for piracy and murder.' Neither of these two sheet have dates printed attached to them, but the right slip has 'January 9 1822' scrawled across it, whilst the left slip still has the price, one penny, attached.

These two broadsides illustrate all the many features and functions of the archetypal broadside. Broadsides contained today's news or at least news of today's interest and were not supposed to be long-term society records. Here a topical and sensational execution is reported on two different sheets. The information was not exclusive to one printer and so there was healthy competition for sales. This sharing of information was often extended to cribbing each other's or newspaper reports. Finally these reports detail events in sequence and so develop into a full narrative. Whether all on one sheet or made available in instalments, this sequential reporting gave the audience a complete picture.

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: 1822   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(23)
Broadside entitled 'Execution'
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