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Broadside ballad entitled ' A Pil to Tonny Ashton; or, The Play-house Puld Down'


This ballad begins: 'O MY Blood boiles, my Spirit's all in fire; / Passion's in pomp, nor can the Flames flly higher: / To sie my Native Countrey gone, / And English dreg lay on the fun'ral stone'. An annotation at the bottom of the sheet suggests that this broadside was published in Edinburgh on the 10th of April, 1728. The price and publisher are not noted.

Tonny Ashton is described in a handwritten annotation on this ballad as 'master of a playhouse in Edr'. Tony, or Tonny, Aston or Ashton, was a strolling player who came to Edinburgh in the 1720s. He was promoted by the poet Allan Ramsay who wrote prologues for Aston?s performances as well as selling tickets for his plays. In 1726 Aston was denied a licence to perform by the Master of the Revels as he had failed to pay to the Revels office, the dues he owed them. Nevertheless he continued to perform until Skinner?s Hall (where he performed) was shut down. After a spell of litigation, Aston cut his losses and left Edinburgh in 1728. The fact that Ashton was English seems also to count against him.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Date of publication: 1728   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.76(105)
Broadside ballad entitled ' A Pil to Tonny Ashton; or, The Play-house Puld Down'
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