This crime report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of Charles MacLaren, Thomas Grierson, and James M'Ewen, accused of Housebreaking and Theft, they having, on the 8th, or the morning of the 9th September, entered into the house of Thomas Riddle, Esq. W.S. Gray Street, Newington, and stealing there from a variety of Silver Plate, a Gold Snuff Box, a Pair of Pistols, &c. who are to be executed at Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 12th, February 1823.' The broadside was priced at one penny. No other publication details are included.
Other broadsides in the National Library of Scotland's collection reveal that there was outcry at this 1823 death sentence, for housebreaking and theft, passed on three boys aged between thirteen and seventeen. A respite of one month was subsequently granted to them, and at the bottom of this broadside, a later handwritten annotation states: 'Pardoned and sent to Botany Bay', suggesting that the sentences against all three were eventually commuted to transportation to Australia. The death sentence for under-16s in Britain was not abolished until 1908.
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: L.C.Fol.74(088)
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