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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Recent Murders'


Verse 1: 'God prosper long our noble king, / Our lives and safeties all, / I'll sing of murders that till now, / Did never yet befal'. The text preceding this reads: 'A NEW SONG. / Tune, - "Chevy Chase"'. There are no publication details attached.

The ballad 'Chevy Chase' was first registered at the Stationers' Hall in 1624 and is believed to have been about the Battle of Otterburn. This battle, in 1388, was one of the largest Scottish raids into England ever mounted by the Scots and it was left up to Henry 'Hotspur' Percy of Northumberland to exact revenge. The tune to the song, however, was regularly used to accompany folk ballads. This author has gone one step further by using many of the original words to the song but altering others to make it relevant to the case of Burke and Hare.

Burke and Hare were Irish bodysnatchers and murderers, who worked around Edinburgh's Canongate area - eventually becoming local legends. They hit upon the idea of murdering vulnerable or solitary people (in an attempt not to get caught) so that they could sell the bodies for dissection. Hare turned King's Evidence and so was acquitted, but this secured the conviction of Burke, who was hanged on the 28th January 1829.

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Probable date published: 1829   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(037)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Recent Murders'
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