This ballad begins: 'There was a rich gentleman in Glasgow did dwell, / He had a lovely daughter a sailor loved well; / Because she was handsome and loved him so true, / Her father he wanted her to bid him adieu.' A woodcut illustration of a sailing vessel has been included above the title.
'William and Herriet' touches on the traditional theme of tragic love, which is to be found in many early ballads. Herriet's father, believing his daughter to be too good for her lover, insists she end the relationship. Herriet refuses and, disguised as a sailor, departs with William for foreign shores. Tragically, the two young lovers find themselves shipwrecked and stranded on an inhospitable island. The ballad ends with the doomed lovers dying in each others arms.
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(090)
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