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Broadside ballad entitled 'Margaret Bell's Lament'


Verse 1: 'Adieu unto Barrhead, and to Neilston also, / Where the river Levern it sweetly does flow, / My poor aged mother, for ever farewell, / An exile for life is your poor Margaret Bell.' This ballad is to be sung to the tune of 'Braes of Strathblane'. It was published by Brown and Son, of 56 Trongate and 25 Nelson Street, Glasgow. A woodcut of the Ark adorns the top of the sheet.

This ballad tells the, probably true, story of Margaret Bell, from Renfrewshire, who fell pregnant and was treated very badly by the father. The devil whispered to her to kill her baby, as a way out of the abject poverty she found herself in. For this she was sentenced to be hung, but the locals took pity on her and petitioned for a lesser sentence. Margaret Bell was transported instead.

Broadsides are often crudely illustrated with woodcuts - the earliest form of printed illustration, first used in the mid-fifteenth century. Inclusion of an illustration on a broadside increased its perceived value, especially among the illiterate. To keep costs down, publishers would normally reuse their limited stock of generic woodcuts.

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Probable date of publication: 1853   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(002)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Margaret Bell's Lament'
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