This ballad begins: 'On the Clyde's bonny banks as I lately did wander, / near the village of Blantyre I chanced for to rove; / I saw a young female dressed in deep mourning, / She sadly lamented the fate of her lover.' The author is credited as 'John Wilson B. S.G.'
This ballad was based on a real tragedy, at Dixon's coal mine in High Blantyre on October 22nd, 1877. Over 200 miners were killed when a build-up of firedamp gas accidentally ignited and exploded. The infamy of this event has meant that this ballad is still better known than many today, and alternative versions of it are available online. It is unknown whether the 'John Wilson' credited with this version is any relation of the famous nineteenth-century Edinburgh philosopher, author and periodical editor John Wilson, alias Christopher North (1785-1854).
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 published:
1877 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(46b)
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