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Broadside ballad entitled 'Robin Rattle's Bastard'


The first verse of this ballad begins: 'Saw ye Jenny Nettles, Jenny Nettles, Jenny Nettles, / Coming frae the matket; / Her fee and bountith on her lap'. The sheet was published by William Anderson, at the Poet's Box, Paisley. A woodcut of a mother and child, framed by a border of foliage, adorns the top of the sheet.

The note at the bottom of this sheet states that the Paisley Poet's Box is 'Free Burgage Territory'. 'Burgage' was an old system whereby land was leased directly from the crown, and was not taxed. In Paisley, there was a very similar system, called a 'booking tenure', where the land belonged to the burgh, rather than the crown. This is probably the sort of lease Anderson held. It would have been attractive to potential customers as the fact that he paid no tax would hopefully have meant a better value product. It is not known whether the Paisley Poet's Box was related to those in Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast.

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 period of publication: 1851-1853   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(001)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Robin Rattle's Bastard'
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