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Broadside ballad entitled 'Jenny's Bawbee'


Verse 1: 'I met four chaps yon birks amang, / Wi' hinging lugs and faces lang, / And I speered at nei'bour Bauldy Strang, / Wha are yon we see; / Quo' he, ilk cream-faced pawky chiel / Thinks himsel' cunning as the diel / And here they've come awa to steal / Jenny's Bawbee.' The name of the publisher is not included and the sheet is not dated. A 'bawbee' was a 'halfpenny' and a 'birk' was 'a smart youth'.

The light-hearted verses contained in this broadside tell the story of the various men who try to woo Jenny and her bawbee. Written in a humorous manner, the story tells of a procession of upper-class men who all want to lay claim to Jenny?s Bawbee. However, Jenny is a canny lass and is not to be fooled by these fine and upstanding gentlemen who wish to marry her. Instead, Jenny falls for the very last man in this procession of suitors, Johnny. In contrast to his rivals, Johnny is poor in material terms but rich in other respects - hence the ballad is a comment on the nature of love.

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: 1860-1890   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(1b)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Jenny's Bawbee'
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