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Broadside ballad entitled 'A New Song for the Electors of the County of Midlothian'


This political ballad begins: 'Oh! The gallant Sir John is a Knight of renown, / And from London post-haste he has lately come down, / Having fairly got out of that innocent scape, / Of the Banners, and Mottos, and bits of Black Crape'. A note below the title states that the ballad should be sung to the traditional tune, 'The Young Lochinvar'. Although there are no publication details included on this sheet, the reference to Jamie Aytoun suggests that it was most likely published in Edinburgh during the 1830s.

Illustrated with a woodcut that contains Joan of Arc's famous motto, 'Without fear and without reproach', this political ballad refers to an electoral contest in Edinburgh between James Aytoun (1797-1881) and Sir John Campbell. Written in the mock-heroic style of a battle between two knights, the writer certainly appears to favour Campbell over Aytoun. While it is known that Aytoun was a well known member of the Radical Party in Edinburgh in the 1830s and 40s, there is less information about who Campbell was - though he might well have been a candidate for the Whig Party. The National Library of Scotland's collection contains many broadsides that report on political contests in Edinburgh during this period.

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: 1830-1840   shelfmark: RB.m.143(181)
Broadside ballad entitled 'A New Song for the Electors of the County of Midlothian'
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