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Broadside regarding the execution of Isobell Smith


This crime report begins: 'A particular account of a Barbarous, Cruel, and Inhuman / MURDER, / Committee on the Body of William Brown, Cadie in Edinburgh; / by his own wife, Isobell Smith on the night of the 3d Sept. 1792.'

This short text reveals much about eighteenth-century society and its attitudes. The nature of husband-wife relations and the expectations of both parties are detailed in the first paragraph. The distinctions between Scots and English law are drawn further down, with the English charge of high treason being applied to this case. It finally ends on a moralising note, dominated by Satan, asking sinners to repent.

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: 1792   shelfmark: 6.365(090)
Broadside regarding the execution of Isobell Smith
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