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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Gipsey King'


Verse 1: ''Tis I'm the gipsey king / Ha, ha, / And where is the king like me? / No troubles my dignities bring, / No other is half so free. / In my kingdom there is but one table, / All my subjects partake of my cheer, / We'd all drink Champagne, were we able, / as it is we have plenty of beer.' This broadside was published by J. Scott of Pittenweem, Fife, and sold by J. Wood of Edinburgh.

Gypsies are reputedly descended from the Romani, a nomadic people with origins in the Persian Gulf. According to gypsy law, the true gypsy King or Queen is part of a blood lineage and is the leader of all the combined gypsy nations, but gypsy communities in separate countries and areas may also elect their own King or leader. Literature reveals a paradoxical attitude to gypsy culture in Great Britain. In some books, poems and songs, gypsies are regarded suspiciously and subjected to racial prejudice. However, in many other cases, the gypsy is celebrated as a romantic symbol of freedom, as in this ballad.

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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Probable period of publication: 1843-1855   shelfmark: L.C.1269(181b)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Gipsey King'
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