This ballad begins: 'Ma name is Jock M'Whurtle, I'm a dorby tae ma trade, / But noo I've got a steadier job, I'm listed as a swade; / An' when at first I took the bob, O, I was green and raw, / But they vera sune made a man o' me in the gallant Forty Twa.' A 'dorby' is a stone-mason and a 'swade' is a 'soldier'. Unfortunately, no publication details are included on the broadside.
Written from the viewpoint of a stone-mason who has become a soldier, this ballad is dedicated to the man-making qualities of the Black Watch Regiment - also known as the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment. The new recruit talks about what life is like in the armed forces and opines that an army life is not as bad as is often made out. Certainly, Jock appears to be very proud of wearing the regimental tartan - a fact which suggests that this ballad was written after 1822, when the wearing of tartan was no longer perceived to be a threat to the British nation-state. A famously anti-Jacobite regiment, the Black Watch was raised in 1739, and was one of the six independent companies of the 'Highland Watch'.
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:
1850-1870 shelfmark: RB.m.143(194)
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