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Broadside entitled 'Robert Stirrat's'


This ballad begins: 'Confession of the Murder of his own Aunt in John Street, Glasgow. / The morning was calm, and it dawned with joy, / To the hearts of the weary, now freed from employ. / And the day it was sacred, to rest set apart, / When Stirrat resolved to pierce his aunt's heart.' This sheet was published by the printer William Carse.

Robert Stirrat was a very popular name in the south-west of Scotland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As a result, this ballad may have been more of a moral warning than a factual report of the events. Broadside publishers, even at this time, tended to see themselves as moral guardians and teachers in society. As such publishers often disseminated 'educational' texts outlining the social and personal consequences of undisciplined behaviour.

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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Date of publication: 1831   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(108)
Broadside entitled 'Robert Stirrat's'
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