This crime report begins: 'A true Narrative of the Transactions of ISABELLA PERSTON Of Cambuslang, who is accused of Child-Murder, and now a Prisoner in the Goal of this city. THE public are ever anxious to hear of the character of any unhappy wretch, who, by a wicked course of life, becomes amenable to the law . . .' The broadside is not dated and carries no publication details.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the murder of newborn children by their mothers was probably more common than it is today. There was a huge social stigma attached to illegitimacy that drove some women to kill rather than face the public disgrace that she, and the child, would undoubtedly endure. This case in this broadside is more unusual, in that the accused women was already known to have had and raised several illegitimate children. However, there were other social complications. Many unmarried women were simply in no financial position to raise a child, and post-natal depression, which was not acknowledged until the twentieth century, may, in retrospect, have also been a contributory factor.
Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.
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Probable date published:
1810- shelfmark: APS.4.82.31
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