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Broadside entitled 'Execution!'


This public notice begins: 'A Full and Particular ACCOUNT of the Execution of JOHN RENNIE and WILLIAM SUTHERLAND, who were EXECUTED at Edinburgh on Wednesday morning, the 23rd August, 1821, for Housebreaking and Theft'. This sheet would have sold for a penny.

The judicial system at this time placed more gravity on property crime than anything else. As a result these two thieves were not viewed lightly by the law. This certainly is made clear in the report as the 'aggravated' nature of their offences is stressed. In this case the two men had completed three robberies in a row and there were witnesses to clear any ambiguities. They were then hanged in Libberton Wynd, which was the place where most executions took place.

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: 1821   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(295)
Broadside entitled 'Execution!'
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