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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Sorrowful Maiden'


Verse 1: THus lurking as alone I lay, / where there was no Repair, / A Maid before me on the way, / I heard a Greeting fair: / Her Moan was loud it mov'd the Air, / to hear her still I stood, / She was lamenting evermair, / for fault of Tocher good.' The ballad was to be sung 'To an Excellent Old Tune'.

This ballad is about a young woman overheard lamenting that she cannot find a husband 'for want of tocher-good'. In Scotland a 'tocher' was the bride's family's contribution to a marriage arrangement, and might consist of household items such as linen, silverware or crockery. A generous tocher would obviously be attractive to prospective suitors. When this ballad was written, a woman's social standing would have been governed her marital status, and spinsterhood was greatly feared by many women. The word 'tocher' is Scots, derived from Gaelic 'tochradh'.

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 of publication: 1800   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(041)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Sorrowful Maiden'
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