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Broadside entitled 'Elegy'


This memorial notice begins: 'ELEGY On the much lamented Death of merry Maggie Wilson, Poultry-Wife in Edinburgh'. The elegy begins: 'WALLiwafaw your Fingers, Death, / That stappit Maggie Wilson's Breath; / Had I been ye, I'd been right leath, / And wae to fell her.' According to a note under the title, it was 'done by Rorie Pringle Drawer in the Tolbooth.'

Edinburgh's Old Tolbooth, once situated close to St Giles' Cathedral on the High Street, is believed to have been the main home of the Scottish parliament until the early seventeenth century. It also housed the town council and burgh court, and acted as the main prison for Edinburgh and its environs. Towards the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century it was primarily used as a prison. Sadly, the building, commonly known as the 'Heart of Midlothian', was demolished in 1817, but a heart-shaped design on the pavement marks the location of the entrance.

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: 1720-   shelfmark: RB.l.106(089)
Broadside entitled 'Elegy'
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