The introduction to this broadside reads: 'A full and particular ACCOUNT of the Life and Actions of James Inglis alias Clipstir, who is to be execute upon Wednesday the first of May, for the Crimes of Horse and Sheepstealing.' The ballad itself begins: 'NO more this aged Sinner cheats the Tree, / Or swings a Helter round him wi' a Swie'. Unfortunately, no publication details are included on the sheet.
This broadside tells the sad story of James Inglis or Clipstir, who was to be executed for stealing sheep and horses. Employing quite poetic imagery in its telling of this sad tale, the writer rejoices in the fact that, after a period of 40 years, the law has finally caught up with Inglis. So the tone of the ballad is very much that of a notorious criminal receiving his comeuppance. It appears that many of his crimes took place in the countryside around Edinburgh, since Haddington and Dirleton are both mentioned in the ballad. The mentioning of John Dalglish also helps the modern-day reader place an approximate date on the sheet, since Dalglish was a well-known executioner in Edinburgh during the early eighteenth century.
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 date published:
1728- shelfmark: RB.l.106(072)
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