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Broadside ballad entitled 'Maggy Lawder'


This ballad begins: 'WHA' wadna' be in lor / Wi' bonny Maggy Lawder, / A piper met her gaw on to fife, / He spierd wat was they ca'd her, / Right scornfully she answer'd him, / Begone ye hawling shaker'. Below the title, a note states that the sheet was published by Charles Pigott of 52 Compton Street, Clerkenwell, London. A 'hawling shaker' is a Scots expression for 'tramp'.

There are a number of variations regarding the proper title for this traditional song, which was popular in London at the beginning of the eighteenth century and featured in 'The Quaker's Opera' in 1728. It is believed that the original version of the ballad was written in 1642 by Francis Sempill (1616-1682), although many musicians and poets - including Robert Burns - later embellished the song. Most versions of the song tell how Maggy was seduced and made pregnant by a piper from Fife called, in this case, 'Rob the Ranter'.

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 published: 1825-   shelfmark: APS.3.84.2
Broadside ballad entitled 'Maggy Lawder'
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