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Broadside ballad entitled 'Bonnie Banks Of Lochlomond'


Verse 1: 'It's yon bonny banks and bonny braes, / Where the sun shines bright and bonny, / Where I and my true love went out for to gaze, / On the bonny, bonny banks of Lochlomond.' Below the title we are told that 'Copies of this popular song can be hud at 190 & 192 OVERGATE, DUNDEE'.

This most famous of Scottish folk songs is rumoured to have been written by a Jacobite prisoner, who was about to be executed for his part in the failed 1745-46 uprising. The dominant theme of the song is the ancient Celtic belief that if you die away from your home country, then your spirit returns home by an underground route called 'The Low Road'.
The Dundee Poets? Box was in operation from about 1880 to 1945, though it is possible that some material was printed as early as the 1850s. Most of the time it had premises at various addresses in Overgate. In 1885 the proprietor J.G. Scott (at 182 Overgate) had published a catalogue of 2,000 titles consisting of included humorous recitations, dialogues, temperance songs, medleys, parodies, love songs, Jacobite songs. Another proprietor in the 1880s was William Shepherd, but little is known about him. Poets? Box was particularly busy on market days and feeing days when country folk were in town in large numbers. Macartney specialised in local songs and bothy ballads. Many Irish songs were published by the Poets? Box ? many Irishmen worked seasonally harvesting potatoes and also in the jute mills. In 1906 John Lowden Macartney took over as proprietor of the Poet?s Box, initially working from 181 Overgate and later from no.203 and 207.

It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one at Paisley in the early 1850s, owned by William Anderson.

There are several theories concerning the ballad?s origins. One version is that the condemned prisoner wrote the song specially for his sweetheart. Another interpretation is that there were two Jacobite prisoners, with one of them being set free while the other was executed. This second version claims that the ballad was written by the prisoner who was sentenced to death, for the benefit of the pardoned Jacobite. Whatever the truth of the ballad's origins, it is a famous song that appeals to many people.

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Probable period of publication: 1880-1900   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(17a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Bonnie Banks Of Lochlomond'
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