This ballad begins: 'POOR Tony, have you serv'd the Devil so long? / Debauch'd the Youth with my lascivious song; / I was your faithful Pimp, and stroll'd about, / To bring you vassals, and I found them out.'
'The Tragedy of Tony Aston' is based on a real case in Edinburgh, from 1728. 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.
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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Probable date published:
1728 shelfmark: RB.I.106(100)
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