The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside entitled 'An Elegy'


This memorial notice begins: 'An Elegy Upon the much Lamented Death of Janet Hill, Spouse to the Famous Tinclarian Doctor William Mitchell, who departed this Life, 13th of October 1716.' The elegy begins: 'THE Defunct has obtain'd a Name, / By virtue of the Doctor's Fame'. As mentioned in the title, William Mitchell was a 'Tinclarian Doctor'. 'Tinclarian' is a Scots word meaning 'tinker-like'.

According to this elegy, Janet Hill was the wife of William Mitchell, a charlatan who set himself up as a doctor despite his lack of formal training. Although Janet is described as 'The Honest Woman all the while, / Who at such mad Attempts did smile, / Behav'd her self without all Guile', it appears that she was driven by her desire for money and, as such, aided him in his work. Charlatans such as Mitchell were a common feature of the eighteenth century. With medical science still in its relative infancy and most doctors charging exorbitant prices, often the only avenue open to the poor and sick was to call upon the slighty cheaper services of the 'tinclarian'.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Probable date published: 1716   shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(090)
Broadside entitled 'An Elegy'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland