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Broadside ballad entitled 'Honest Jemmy Ayton, A New Reform Song'


This ballad (sung to the air, 'The King of the Cannibal Islands') begins: 'The Whigs are vapouring thro' the town, / That Frank, the Barber's coming down, / (The doited, petted, gabby loon) / To put out Jemmy Ayton.' It is decorated with a woodcut illustration, which incorporates the motto 'ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN TO DO HIS DUTY' - famously signalled by Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.

A note at the bottom of the broadside informs the reader that 'Frank, the Barber' refers to Francis Jeffrey (1773-1850), who is probably best remembered as founder of the magazine, the 'Edinburgh Review'. A staunch Whig, Jeffrey was appointed Lord Advocate in 1830, became an MP for Edinburgh in 1832 and was created a law lord in 1834. This song is partly a reaction to his decision to enter politics. James Ayton or Aytoun (1797-1881) was prominent in Edinburgh politics in the 1830s.

This broadside, along with many others, assumes a certain degree of knowledge amongst the readership of the day. Those mentioned within the verses were obviously familiar characters and the context was well known. As a result, at first glance, the subject matter can often appear a little obscure to a twenty-first century audience.

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Probable date of publication: 1832   shelfmark: L.C.1268
Broadside ballad entitled 'Honest Jemmy Ayton, A New Reform Song'
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