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Broadside ballad entitled 'Mrs. M'Leod's last Farewel to John Gibson'


Verse 1: 'Now John what makes thee look so shan, / Brush up and look couragious, Man. / We have mad many a Cog between us / E'en Fan De'el a Saul has seen us / And since that nearest Friends must part / Here's to your Health with a' my Heart...' The name of the publisher is not included. 'Shan' is a Scots word meaning 'pitiful'.

This ballad refers to the tragic story of Mrs McLeod, who was executed in Edinburgh in 1727, for the crime of forgery. It is not clear from the sheet who John Gibson actually was. However, his strenuous efforts to make Mrs McLeod confess and repent for her many sins suggest that he could be a minister, sent to 'the condemned cell' to make her see the light during her last hours. Many broadsides such as this one are held in the National Library of Scotland?s collection.

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: 1727   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(107)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Mrs. M'Leod's last Farewel to John Gibson'
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