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Broadside entitled 'An Account of a Bloody Murder'


This crime report begins: 'An account of a bloody murder commited on the body of Mary Grier above the Cross Glasgow, upon Monday Novr. 8th 1790. By John Henderson her own husband. IT is lamentable to hear of the cruelties committed of late in this Kingdom, and especially in Glasgow and its neighbourhood . . .' The broadside carries no publication details.

The murder described in this report is one of particular cruelty. John Henderson, a bigamist with a history of cruelty to both his lawful and his unlawful wives, allegedly killed Mary Grier with his bare hands when she was far advanced in pregnancy. Broadsides were frequently misogynistic, and implied that wives provoked their violent husbands, but in this case the broadside author is wholly sympathetic to the victim, and condemns John Henderson. As the broadside was produced before the case went to trial, Henderson's fate is not recorded.

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: 1790   shelfmark: APS.3.82.12
Broadside entitled 'An Account of a Bloody Murder'
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