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Broadside ballad entitled 'Town Officer's Lament'


This ballad begins: 'I Pray draw near and you shall hear / For what I lost my Coat Man, / It was my Lenity, not Invy, / Nor Rigitness I wot Man.' The text preceding it reads: 'R------- P------'s Complaint of his hard Fate, / OR THE / Town Officer's Lament for the Loss of his Coat. / To the Tune of the bonny Boat Man.' A woodcut has been included to make the sheet a more attractive purchase.

Town Officers carried out a variety of functions, although many of their duties would eventually be performed by the modern day police. They also carried out civil functions like carrying the council minute books and escorting parties to church. The job came with steady pay, good perks and a certain amount of authority and social standing - all of this made it really quite attractive. They were often issued with red coats and cudgels as symbols of and tools to reinforce this authority and cachet. Unfortunately they also had a reputation for hard drinking and this resulted in a high turnover of employees.

Broadsides are often crudely illustrated with woodcuts - the earliest form of printed illustration, first used in the mid-fifteenth century. Inclusion of an illustration on a broadside increased its perceived value, especially among the illiterate. To keep costs down, publishers would normally reuse their limited stock of generic woodcuts.

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Probable date of publication: 1730   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(077)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Town Officer's Lament'
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