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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Fate of Johnny Johnson'


This ballad begins: 'Let us Christian people / For a moment contemplate / On that awful crime at Whifflet / On young Johnny Johnston's fate, / At the age of thirteen, murdered, / All in secret, in a room, / Which had chilled the hearts of thousands / When report spread of his doom.' The sheet was published by William Markham Brown of 3 Davidson Street, Airdrie.

This well-written, charming piece tells the story of 13-year-old Johnny Johnson, who was murdered in Airdrie, for the 'paltry sum of ninepence'. It appears that his body was burned by the culprit, a woman, and she tried to smuggle it in a bundle to Glasgow for disposal. Luckily, a woman saw a boot protruding from the bundle and alerted the authorities. The murderess was caught and Johnny was given a proper burial.

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 period of publication: 1880-1900   shelfmark: APS.4.90.16
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Fate of Johnny Johnson'
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