This execution notice begins: 'correct and Particular Account of the Execution of CHARLES McEWEN, commonly called "The Cock of the North", who was Hanged on Wednesday the 7th April 1824, for the Barbarous Murder of Margaret Mooney, in October last, on a Moor in Aberdeenshire ; and his Body given to dissection, with his Behaviour at the Place of Execution.' This sheet was published in Edinburgh on the 7th April 1824 by Alexander Turnbull.
Broadsides were produced quickly and cheaply so that the information contained in them would be relevant to the moment and cheap to buy. This sheet, however, is badly set. It cuts off mid-sentence and mid-paragraph at the bottom of the page and begins mid-sentence also. The information reported in it is equally hit and miss. The victim is reported as Margaret Mooney although she is called Elizabeth in other reports. It is also claimed that Mooney and McEwen had only known each other a week when they had been together for over a year. McEwen's assertions of innocence, however, do seem to have been correctly reported. This story was widely covered at the time and other broadsides on this case, are held in the National Library of Scotland's collection.
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:
1824 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(54)
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