Public interest in serious crime had been a feature of society for centuries in Britain, but by the late 1700s a surge in published material brought crime, police investigations and executions into the very homes of ordinary families. Broadsides such as that pictured here, detailing the execution of Joseph Hunton at Newgate prison in 1828 for a series of forgeries, were particularly popular. Typically printed on one side and illustrated with crude wood-cut prints, broadsides were sold on street corners by the thousand at only a penny or so per copy, and thus were affordable to most of the general public.

Broadsides were often issued as a series, appearing quickly after serious crimes were discovered, and reflected the progress of criminal proceedings: from initial detail of the offence, the arrest of suspects, subsequent magistrate hearings and any final punishments. Details of a convict’s behaviour on the gallows were particularly popular as broadside material, and publications such as the one shown here were often kept as ghoulish souvenirs by collectors.