This ballad begins: 'ON July just upon the penult day, / which is the second Moneth next to May. / It is agreed and finally Contracted, / and all the Parties living yet that spake it, / Between two Graceless Persons of Renoune, / None more Infamous dwelling in the Town.'
The 'Contract of Enster' is a comic rendering of a marriage contract into rhyming Scots couplets. (Enster is an old spelling for Anstruther in Fife).The cause given for the marriage between the 'Raggit Sutor Man' and the 'good Daughter of old Andrew Bizie' is that 'they have no will to work' and that if they marry, they will be entitled to an inheritance from old Andrew. The author sustains the 'marriage contract' illusion to the extent of including a list of 'witnesses' at the end of the poem.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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