This execution notice begins: 'THE LAST / SPEECH / AND / CONFESSION / OF / PATRICK M'NICOL, alias CAMPBELL, / Who was executed at Mugdock, upon the 28th of March 1718. for the Murder of John Graham.'
It is not clear from this broadside what the circumstances surrounding McNicol's sentence were, although it does sound like Graham was killed whilst McNicol was attempting to escape from jail. The text is primarily concerned with McNicol's interaction with the ministers and the state of his soul before he met his Maker. Scotland was still under the influence of Calvinist and Presbyterian doctrines, and their impact upon society can be seen in documents like this. It is curious, that it was noted, that most of the conversation occurred in 'the Highland Tongue', showing an awareness of Scotland's linguistic divide at the time.
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:
1718 shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(046)
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