of John Smith
by Adam McNaughton
|Goodnight ballad for Conner and McMenemy
A single slip ballad purporting to come from the mouths of Tom Conner and Bell McMenemy, condemned to die for assault and robbery. The woodcut illustration has been damaged by a crease during printing.
This is a typical broadside "Goodnight ballad" in which the condemned prisoners confess and repent. It has the usual prosaic details of date and place, and the usual moralising last verse, and the usual broadside linguistic quirks such as the use of 'theftuous' in the last line.
The crime was committed much as the ballad tells. McMenemy lured a highland seaman called McKinnon to the canal banks near Port Eglinton, where Conner and she knocked him on the head with a stone and stole two pounds.
At the trial the jury recommended mercy for McMenemy, who was only 23, but in vain. The double execution, the first of a woman in Glasgow for thirty-five years, attracted a huge crowd. As well as this ballad, William Carse published another two sheets, one a few days before the execution, one immediately after.
See the History of Crime and Punishment pages for further broadsides relating to crime.
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Text by Adam McNaughton and web editing by Julie Gardham September 2004
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