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Broadside concerning the trial and sentence of William Allan


This trial report begins: 'A Full and Particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of WILLIAM ALLAN, who was tried at Edinburgh, on Tuesday the 27th of December, 1825, for the Barbarous Murder and Robbery of Alexander McKay, on the 17th September last, and who is to be Executed at Aberdeen, on Friday the 10th February, 1826, and his body to be delivered over to the Professor of Anatomy of that city for Dissection.' This broadside was printed in Edinburgh for William Henry and priced at one penny.

Broadsides were printed rather crudely on low quality paper. This was to ensure production costs were kept to a minimum. Priced cheaply at one penny or occasionally a half penny, they had a vast readership amongst the working classes. Whilst the cost to the reader was low, the sheer quantities printed earned healthy profits for those involved in their production. Sales of a broadside detailing a particularly sensational or gruesome murder often ran into the thousands.

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: 1825   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(62)
Broadside concerning the trial and sentence of William Allan
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