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Broadside entitled 'Execution at Elgin'


This execution notice begins: 'An account of the Execution of ALEXANDER GILLIAN, who was executed at Speyside (the place where the deed was committed) on Wednesday the 14th of November, 1810, for ravishing and murdering Elizabeth Lamb?his body being afterwards hung in Chains, pursuant to his sentence.' This sheet was published by the Saltmarket, Glasgow-based chapbook-man Thomas Duncan.

Although women were protected to a certain extent by rape legislation, there was still a social stigma attached to the victim which often meant that her identity was never revealed. In most cases where the victim was deceased, such as this example, then the name was revealed. This rapist was 'hung in chains' after he was hung, which was a further post-mortem punishment. This was first practised in 1637, but was not legalised until an Act of Parliament was passed in 1752. This barbaric warning was abolished less than a hundred years later in 1834.

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: 1810   shelfmark: 6.314(23)
Broadside entitled 'Execution at Elgin'
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