The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside regarding the murder of Margaret Rankin


This crime report begins: 'A full, true and particular account of a cruel, barbarous and inhuman murder committed on the body of Margaret Rankin daughter of John Rankin in Polichorkin in Argyleshire, of which Archibald McAllum, by whom she was big with child is suspected because he has fled from his father's house at Ardnoe.' The crime occurred on the 12th August 1792.

This text, although revealing many of the facts surrounding this attack, concentrates more on the behaviour and their consequences of those involved and uses it as a vehicle to warn other young lovers. This text is unusual because Margaret is portrayed in a good light and remains relatively blameless for her condition. This could, however, be because she was the victim of this brutal attack. Perhaps modern press coverage is not the first to manipulate its audience's emotions.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1792   shelfmark: 6.365(093)
Broadside regarding the murder of Margaret Rankin
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland