Broadsides, single sheets of paper extolling the crimes and stories of the day, featured heavily in The Clan Sinclair trilogy. They revealed what interested readers and what everyday life was like in the 19th century.
This story took place in 1828 and is taken from http://digital.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/15971/transcript/1
I recommend the digital archives for some rich and lurid reading. We tend to think that we’re shocking in the 21st century, but people have always pushed the boundaries of society.
(I love the battle that happens in this story.)
Here’s the transcript:
A full and particular Account of the Sale of a Woman, named Mary Mackintosh, which took place on Wednesday Evening, the 16th of July, 1828, in the Grass Market ‘of Edinburgh, accused by her Husband of being a notorious Drunkard; with the Particulars of the bloody Battle which took place afterwards.
ON Wednesday evening last, in the Grass-market, Mary Mackintosh was
brought down about six o’clock by her husband, for the purpose of being
sold. Her crime was drunkenness and adultery. She was held by a straw
rope tied round her middle, and the words, ” To be sold by public auction”
in front of her bosom. Several thousand spectators were assembled to wit-
ness this novel occurrence. John F——n, pensioner, and knight of the ham-
mer, commenced business, but the acclamations of the people were so great,
that no one could get a hearing for ten minutes, to bid for the unfortunate
When, the crowd got a little quiet the people began to examine the
countenance of the woman ; a Highland Drover stepped through the crowd,
and pulled out his purse, and Said, ” She be a good like lassie,’l will gi’e ten
and twenty shillings for her.” This caused great cheering among the
crowd?then a stout Tinker made a bolt into the crowd, and said she should
never go to the Highlands?he then bid sixpence more for her. At this time,
one of the KlLLARNEY PIG JOBBERS, with his mouth open as wide
as a turnpike gate, and half drunk, eried loudly, FAUGHAHOLLICE , I will
give two shillings more, for she is a pratty woman. A Brogue maker,
from Newry, coining out of a public house; as drunk as 5O cats in a wallet,
came up to the Killarney man, and hits him in the bread bag, and he lay
there for the space of ten minutes, which made the woman for sale, laugh
heartily, and the cheers of the crowd at this time was long and incessant.?
The Brogue-maker being a supposed friend to the woman, went up to the
auctioneer,and told him there were three bidders: he was so enraged, he
knocked the auctioneer down, and made his claret flow desperately. Great
cheering among the people, at the expense of the knight of the hammer.?
The women of the neighbourhood gathered to the number of 700, and arm-
ed themselves with stones, some threw them, and others put them in their
stockings and handkerchiefs, and made a general charge through the mob,
knocking every one down that came in their way, until they got up to the
auctioneer, when they scratched and tore his face in a dreadful manner, in
consequence of the insult the fair sex had received. One resolute woman
came up with a stone and knocked down Thomas M.Guisgan, husband to
the woman who was exposed for sale. This woman, a true female hero,
and a SWEEP’S WIFE, displayed great courage in favour of her sex, and
said I will learn you to auction your wife again, you contaminated villain
Tom returned the blow, and hit her between the eyes, and made them like
two October cabbages. The sweep seeing his wife struck, made a sally with
his bag and scrapper ; the women all took the sweep’s part, and cried with
a loud voice, mill him the old boar, a general battle ensued, and only for
the interference of the police, there would have been lives lost. Alter the
disturbance was quelled, the husband insisted she should be sold. She was
brought up again, and the auctioneer declared that if he could not be pro-
tected, be would have no more call to her. Some young fellows shouted he
should, and the sale began again. An old pensioner, a Jack tar, stepped
forward, saying, damn my tarry top-lights and chain plates she is a tight
little frigate, and well rigged too, and I will give half a crown more than the
last bidder. Well done, cried the mob to the sallor, you are a spirited fel-
low, and you must get her; when a farmer, who was a widower, bade two
pound five shillings for her, he being a friend to the sex, and the auctioncer
knocked her down. The farmer took her up behind him on his horse, and
away they went amidst the cheers of the populace.
W. BOAG, PRINTER, NEWCASTLE.