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Broadside entitled 'Suspected Murders'


This crime report begins: 'A Full True and Particular Account of the discovery of no less than Four Dead Bodies, on Saturday last, in different parts of Edinburgh, under violent suspicion of more than one of them having been murdered, - namely, the body of Alexander Kennedy, fifty-one years of age, found in Hunter's Close, Grassmarket . . .the finding of the body of a young woman in Princes Street, packed up in a box . . . The finding of the body of an infant near the Canal Basin . . . And the finding of the body of another infant in the Canongate Church Yard.' The publisher was Forbes and Owen of 118 High Street, Edinburgh.

The discovery of four different bodies, in suspicious circumstances, in close proximity to each other, and on the same night, might suggest the work of a multiple murderer. When this report is read more carefully, however, there are no obvious connections between any of the deaths. The cause of Alexander Kennedy's death had not been determined at the time of reporting, but it is likely that he may have died of alcohol poisoning. The young woman, it appears, died or was murdered in Glasgow, and her body was taken to Edinburgh by coach, perhaps for use in a demonstration by an anatomist. The infant deaths may have been the result of high mortality rates among the poor, or were possibly illegitimate babies killed by desperate parents.

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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Probable date published: 1830-   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(235)
Broadside entitled 'Suspected Murders'
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