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Broadside entitled 'Trials and Sentences'


This crime report begins: 'An account of the Trials and Sentences of 37 persons before the Circuit Court at Glasgow, five of whom, Edward McGaffer, Francis Cain, Geo. Laidlaw, D. Wylie and Wm. Johnston are to be executed on the 29th October and 12th November , 1823.'

With the increased population and urbanisation of central Scotland, broadside publishers saw a niche in the market for public announcements. Broadsides would have reached a wide audience as they were intended to be passed around or read out loud. Audiences were always avid for sensational and compulsive, if slightly grim, entertainment. Despite this, W. Smith wrote in 1829 that 'It is usual after an execution, for the people to hurry away as if half ashamed of being there, or as if they were glad to get off'.

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 published: 1823   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(47)
Broadside entitled 'Trials and Sentences'
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