Verse 1: 'In a small country cottage by the side of a moor, / Oh there lived one Mary Mackree, / And she kept the sign of the Bell and the Boar, / And very good liquor sold she. / Mary being old, scare could hobble about, / She kept a servant girl to serve the liquor out, / As bonny a lass as ever you did see, /Sold ale to the customers of Mary Mackree.'
Relationships between the sexes are a very common subject in contemporary songs, and this was also the case with broadside ballads. The tone of such ballads could vary from deeply romantic to bawdy. 'Mary Mackree' is of the bawdier variety, describing how a maid is seduced by the son of her employer, who visits the maid's bedroom under the pretence of bringing her a posset to help her recover from an illness.
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 period of publication:
1860-1890 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(083)
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