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Broadside entitled 'Barbarous Murder'


This crime report begins: A full account of the barbarous MURDER That was committed on the body of MARY FRAZER, alias Adam, at the West Port of Edinburgh in her own house, and who died on Sunday the 3d day of July 1791, of the strokes she had received the Monday before, from John Saxton and his three sisters in law, who are now confined in Edinburgh Jail.'

The crime described here appears to have been a case of a neighbourhood dispute getting out of hand. Mary Frazer was allegedly beaten to death after describing one of Saxton's children as 'the pig-wife's daughter'. The author, however, suspects that the root cause of the argument was alcohol, and uses the early part of the report as an opportunity to preach about the dangers of drinking to excess among the lower classes.

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: 1791   shelfmark: 6.365(100)
Broadside entitled 'Barbarous Murder'
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