Glasgow: Printed by T. Duncan, . First edition. Broadside, 11.25 x 6.5 inches mounted on a larger contemporary leaf of cheap laid paper, this rough-timmed to approx. 12 x 8.13 inches. Cheap paper browned, with some light foxing and soiling; in very good condition. Item #18920
“It appeared in evidence that the male prisoner had three children by a former wife, who died about three years ago, and he married the female prisoner on the 8th of last November; and from the 10th of December until the 11th of February, 1812, when the eldest of the three children, the subject of this indictment, died, the tortures administered to them were too horrible even for description.” Known from other cheap publications as “the Suffolk Tragedy,” this unlocated broadside account recounts the sad fate of three young chidren in Cookley after the second marriage of their father; despite the demurral here of treatment too horrible for description, this prose account cast some fairly broad hints at the horrors visited upon the children, outlining how Mary Anne (the child who died) had been not only starved (as had her siblings), but also hung from a beam by a rope around her middle, beaten, choked, and left in a shed until her feet mortified from the cold. John and Elizabeth Smith were tried at Suffolk Assizes on March 21, 1812 and executed two days later: “They behaved with becoming fortitude, seemed very penitent, both cofessed their guilt, and acknowledged that they intended to destroy all the children! A vast councourse of spectators witnessed their melancholy exit.” Not found on COPAC; not found on OCLC. A few versions of melancholy accounts of this trial and execution are extant, as well as the expected sermon and the inevitable catch-penny ballad; comparison of this version to an execution broadside digitized at Harvard suggests this Duncan version is an altogether different account (though it hits all the salient points) and not simply a reprinting.