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Broadside entitled 'Two Different Rapes'


This crime report begins: ' A particular Account of the Trial and Sentence of JOHN MILLAR, WILLIAM STORRIER and WM. ROBERTSON, for two different Rapes, of a most horrid nature, and committed at different times, who is to be Executed at Cupar in Fife, on the 31st of October next.' It was printed by William Carse of Glasgow. The report is not dated.

The headline of this broadside indicates the willingness of publishers to sensationalise reporting in order to gain readers. The smaller print reveals that rape was actually committted only in the second case, whereas in the first case it was fortunately averted. The law and press opinion in nineteenth-century Scotland were often prejudiced against women, but in Robertson's case, despite the jury's recommendation for mercy, the judge imposes the maximum penalty of death. There are other broadsides in the National Library of Scotland's collection that feature this case.

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: 1822   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(037)
Broadside entitled 'Two Different Rapes'
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