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Broadside regarding the trial and sentence of Robert Irving


This crime report begins: 'THE WHOLE / Trial, Confession and Sentence, / OF / Mr. Robert Irvine Chaplain to Baillie Gordon, who was this Day Execute at the Green-side betwixt Leith and Edinburgh, for Murdering of John and Alexander Gordons. / Broughton-Tollbooth April 30th. 1717.'

There are other sheets held in the National Library of Scotland's collection covering this case. It is curious to note that paragraphs of this sheet match word for word paragraphs contained in other reports. This plagiarism and reprinting is one of the features of broadside production. Copyright law was not what it is today and there was a need for speedy production. It also made sound business sense for printers to use the typesetting they had already completed, by reprinting that part of the story, if the case was ongoing.

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: 1717   shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(034g)
Broadside regarding the trial and sentence of Robert Irving
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