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Broadside entitled 'An Account of the Death-Bed Confessions of Jean Simpson'


This moral text begins: 'A respectable Midwife, who died in Falkirk, under severe suffering from the loss of the use of her limbs, but more especially the pangs of a guilty conscience'. The midwife, Simpson, it is recounted, died on Tuesday 27th July, 1841. This broadside was printed by Saunders.

Simpson, dying in the greatest of agonies to atone for her crimes, supposedly confessed to up to 20 instances of child-murder and infanticide. She had worked as a successful midwife in and around Falkirk and was believed to have been of a 'sanctimonious' disposition. Midwives, however, were mainly treated with suspicion by most sections of the community, despite the fact that many women relied on their discretion, skills and knowledge. Although outrage is displayed here, in an age without contraceptives or legal access to terminations, infanticide was a common occurrence.

Broadsides, cheap and accessible, were often used as moral forums with 'lessons of life' included in the narrative. Broadside authors tended to see themselves as moral guardians and teachers in society. As such, publishers often disseminated 'educational' texts outlining the social and personal consequences of undisciplined or immoral behaviour.

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Date of publication: 1841   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(369b)
Broadside entitled 'An Account of the Death-Bed Confessions of Jean Simpson'
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