This memorial notice begins: 'ELEGY ON Sandy M'kay, LATE THE SCOTCH CHAMPION!' Verse 1: 'Has auld King Geordie slipp'd awa', / Or Wellington, or Peel, or wha, / Sae mony tears are seen ta fa', / Frae ilk ane's head? / A better man than any twa - / Scotch Sandy's dead.' A note at the foot of this sheet states it was 'Printed for the Stationers' in Edinburgh.
This ballad is a song of mourning that pays tribute to a Scotsman called Sandy McKay (or M'Kay). He was a Scottish heavyweight boxer called Alexander 'Sandy' McKay who, tragically, died in the ring while fighting the champion, Simon Byrne, at Salcey Green, Northamptonshire, in June 1830. This was the second meeting between M'Kay and Byrne - the former had lost the first bout. Byrne was tried and acquitted for the Scot's death. Byrne from Dublin was also to die 'in the ring' after a fight with James 'Deaf' Burke in June 1833.
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 of publication:
1830 shelfmark: F.3.a.13(13a)
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