The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside entitled 'Confessions of John Stewart'


This crime report begins: 'An account of the different murders to which John Stewart and his female associate has made confession to since their condemnation, making eleven in all, with the names of the places where some of them were committed with the manner they took to Murder their victims, and then rob them.' The sheet was published by Carmichael and Graham of the Trongate in Glasgow, and the story was sourced from the Edinburgh Scotsman and Caledonian Mercury newspapers.

The National Library of Scotland holds several broadsides featuring this case, and if the claims that they killed up to eleven people are true, it is quite surprising that Stewart and his accomplice Catherine Wright do not remain more notorious today. Comparisons are made in the report with Burke and Hare, whose trial for multiple murder in December 1828 occurred only seven months before Stewart and Wright's trial.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Probable date published: 1829   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(107a)
Broadside entitled 'Confessions of John Stewart'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland