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Broadside regarding the execution of William Dornan and Robert Smyth


This execution notice begins: 'An account of the Execution of WILLIAM DORNAN, and ROBERT SMYTH, who were hanged at Air, on Friday the 26th day of May, pursuant to their sentence, for housebreaking and theft?with an account of their behaviour at the place of execution.' It was printed by Thomas Duncan of 159 The Saltmarket, Glasgow.

The Saltmarket area of Glasgow was renowned throughout the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries for the quantity of street literature which was produced here. Duncan, in business by himself between 1800 and 1823, was one of three big, rival firms operating from the street during this period. Along with William Carse and John Muir, Duncan competed for Circuit Court lists and execution notices. Duncan was relatively successful during his stint in the Saltmarket, although he twice had to move premises due them collapsing under the weight of the equipment!

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: 1809   shelfmark: 6.314(22)
Broadside regarding the execution of William Dornan and Robert Smyth
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