The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside entitled 'Execution'


This crime report begins: 'An account of the Execution of William Buchanan and William M'Leod and Thomas Donaldson, at Aberdeen on Friday 23d May 1823, with the affecting separation with their Parents and Relations, also a most pathetic speech made by Buchanan on the Scaffold, a genteel young Man belonging to Edinburgh.' This sheet was published in Aberdeen, on Saturday 24th May 1823.

This style of sentimentalised and sensational reporting is one of the features which makes broadsides the forerunner of modern newspapers. There is a great emphasis on religion in this text, with the young men regretting their neglect of the Sabbath and the Scriptures. The three men's sober behaviour and self-control are also highlighted in favourable terms. These characteristics would eventually became the cornerstone of Victorian society.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1823   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(38)
Broadside entitled 'Execution'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland