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Broadside concerning the murder of Jannet Stewart


This crime report begins: 'An account of a bloody and barbarous murder which was committed on the body of Jannet Stewart daughter of John Stewart farmer in the parish of Scoon in Perthshire by Duncan M'Intyre his servant, who cut her throat from ear to ear she being with child to him, who was apprehended and sent to prison.'

The most notable thing about this report is the density of biblical language employed by the author. As well as containing quotations direct from the Bible, the text contains recognisably biblical images such as 'the earth being once again wet with human blood'. It is an appropriate tone for a report warning against the moral decline of the nation. The final, portentous quotation foresees the death penalty for the accused: 'Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.'

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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Probable date published: 1803-   shelfmark: 6.365(096)
Broadside concerning the murder of Jannet Stewart
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