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Treasure 4: Broadsides (The Last Speech, Confession and Dying Declaration of Three Unfortunate Men)
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Treasure 4: Broadsides (The Last Speech, Confession and Dying Declaration of Three Unfortunate Men)

Historic Documents
David Oswald
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Treasure 4: Broadsides (The Last Speech, Confession and Dying Declaration of Three Unfortunate Men)
Historic Documents
171
Treasure 4: Broadsides (The Last Speech, Confession and Dying Declaration of Three Unfortunate Men)
Originally broadsides were single sheets of paper printed on one side. They were mainly text, intended to be read unfolded, posted in public places. They were first used for the printing of royal proclamations and official notices but later they served as a vehicle for political agitation and popular culture such as ballads, songs and scaffold speeches.

They were sold on the streets and cost a halfpenny or penny. The mechanisation of the printing industry at the beginning of the 19th Century saw a phenomenal increase in the amount of street literature, including broadsides. By the middle of the century, however, cheap newspapers, weekly magazines and "penny dreadfuls" started to take over.

This broadside tells of the day of execution for three Aberdeen men for the crime of theft and stouthrief (which is the associated crime of assaulting a person defending their property). The sheet details the repentant manner of the offenders and their admonishment to the gathered spectators to "take warning and beware of braking the Sabbath, bade company, and disregard of parental instruction, &c."

This is followed by a resigned letter from William Buchanan's parents that, in the context of the severity of the punishment, evokes the austere moral and religious character of Aberdeen at the time.

Also available on the Silver City Vault is another broadside that details the life and execution of William Allen for the crimes of murder and robbery. As part of the 125 Treasures exhibition we will be displaying a total of 5 of our crime and punishment broadsides in the Central Library throughout July 2015.
Broadside
TR01_03
Crime and punishment
Aberdeen Local Studies
Yes
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