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Broadside ballad entitled 'Jamie Wilson's Mother's Dream'


This ballad is prefaced by a woodcut depicting a crest and someone in a coffin, and a verse which reads: 'Poor Jamie ne'er was shrowded, / But in a Tea-chest crowded; / With Coffin ne'er connected, / But by the knife dissected.' Verse 1 reads: 'DARK, dark and drizzly was the night, / And lang lang after gloamin', / When Jamie's Mother lonely sat/ His absence sair bemoanin'.' The poem was written by A. Gowrie. The broadside was published by W. Smith of No. 3 Bristo Port, Edinburgh.

Jamie Wilson, or 'Daft Jamie', was the penultimate victim of the notorious murderers Burke and Hare, who killed sixteen times on the streets of Edinburgh to provide the anatomist Robert Knox with bodies for medical research. Daft Jamie's murder is commonly believed to have been the pair's undoing. Whereas Burke and Hare had previously chosen mainly solitary and elderly victims, Jamie was a well-known character in Edinburgh's Old Town, and was immediately missed by his widowed mother. His corpse, when unveiled at a medical demonstration, was recognised by several of the participating students.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable date published: 1828   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(095)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Jamie Wilson's Mother's Dream'
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