This ballad begins: 'My Love he was a brave Man / as ever Scotland bred, / Descended from a Highland Clan, / a Kater to his Trade.'
Very little is known about the figure 'Gilderoy', although he eventually became a literary motif for brave rascals. An incident was recorded on a broadside where a Perthshire highwayman, Patrick MacGregour, was hung in 1638. This information would fit the context of the lyrics but it is not absolutely certain. The lyrics blame 'English Laws' for the death of Gilderoy. This is a reference to the 'bloody code' instituted in England and adopted in Scotland, which were established specifically to protect property and possessions.
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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Probable date published:
1701- shelfmark: S.302.b.2(020)
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