This crime report begins: 'Account of the most shocking murders ever read of, committed by John Matw. Williams, at Milledge, on the body of his own Wife, by stabbing her in several parts of the body and cutting her throat from ear to ear ; also an account of his murdering his own infant only eight days old, by dashing it on the ground, and throwing it over the window, on Tuesday the 15th of July, 1823 ' likewise an account of the gallant manner in which he was seized by his servant girl.' This report was sourced from the Glasgow 'Free Press Newspaper' and was published by the Glasgow printer, W. Carse.
The Glasgow 'Free Press Newspaper' was founded in 1823 and was published until 1835. At this time, however, newspapers were very expensive to produce thus they were expensive to buy and they information they conveyed was not always of an entertaining nature. As a result, broadside publishers copied the more interesting stories onto sheets, often embellishing the narrative to improve the story's appeal further, and sold them for just a penny. The sheet was intended to be read aloud amongst a large audience and as a result the information reached an astonishingly large part of the population.
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:
1823 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(43)
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