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Broadside ballad entitled 'Captain Glen'


Verse 1: 'As I was walking to take the air, / To see the ships all sailing O, / The sailors all invited me on board, / And the captain likewise to his cabin O.' There are no publication details given on this broadside.

This ballad is narrated by Betsy, one of the Duke of Gordon's servants, who is seduced by a sea captain. When she falls pregnant, her fellow staff, and even the Duchess of Gordon herself, suspect that the Duke is the father, until Betsy admits who the father is. Many ballads written were condemning illegitimate pregnancy, but others took a more lenient view and recognised that love and desire were not necessarily impure feelings outside marriage. 'Captain Glen' is in the latter category, but the ballad ends respectably with the captain returning to marry his Betsy.

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: 1880-1900   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(46a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Captain Glen'
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