Verse 1 begins: 'A wealthy young squire in Tamworth we hear, / He courted a noblemans daughter so fair'. This sheet was published by James Lindsay of 9 King Street, Glasgow. A rather crude woodcut illustration of a bird, possibly a phoenix, has been included above the title.
This amusing and fast-paced ditty recounts the story of a wealthy girl's decision to take her marriage arrangements into her own hands. She was to be married to a squire but chose instead a farmer. She then 'arranged' a test which allowed the farmer to claim her as his own - very sneaky. No doubt this flight of fantasy would have kept an audience amused and many of the themes - class, marriage, shooting - would have been easily recognisable.
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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