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Broadside ballad entitled 'Aytoun, The Friend of the People!!'


This ballad begins: 'Come all Reformers of the Town, / Since Jeffrey now has got the Gown, / And pitch your voice to the highest tone, / To sing huzza for Aytoun.' It was advertised as a new song and was to be sung to the tune of 'Arethusa'. A coat of arms with the motto, 'without fear and without reproach', adorns the top of the sheet.

The 'Aytoun' of the title was most likely Kirkcaldy-born manufacturer and Chartist, James Aytoun (1797-1881). In the mid-nineteenth century, Aytoun, a prominent Radical, stood for election as member of parliament for Edinburgh. The author of this piece is urging people to vote for him in the upcoming elections. 'Jeffrey' probably refers to the Whig politician Francis Jeffrey, (1733-1850) who was first elected as MP for Edinburgh in 1832. The National Library of Scotland's broadside collection includes a large number of ballads outlining the tensions between the Tories, Whigs and Radicals in mid-nineteenth-century Scotland.

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: 1830-1840   shelfmark: ABS.10.203.01(106)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Aytoun, The Friend of the People!!'
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