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Broadside entitled 'Riot in Stirling', 1823


This news report begins: 'An account of a serious riot which took place in Stirling on Saturday the 19th April, 1823. when two disturbers of the Dead were almost torn to pieces by the populace, and a party of soldiers being brought from the Castle to quell the riot, fired on the mob, when several persons were wounded.'

The riot described in this report apparently came about when the trial of two resurrectionists, or body-snatchers, was halted pro loco et tempore. In Scots Law this phrase refers to a case where the trial is stopped but the prosecution retains the right to bring a fresh indictment against the accused. The 1820s saw mounting concern in Scotland over the theft and sale of newly-buried bodies for anatomical research. The outrage reached its peak in 1828 when William Burke and William Hare were founded to have committed multiple murders in Edinburgh to find fresh subjects for the anatomists.

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: 1823   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(35)
Broadside entitled 'Riot in Stirling', 1823
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