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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Paisley Officer'


Verse 1: 'In blythe and bonny Scotland, where the blue bells do grow, / There dwelt a pretty fair maid down in a valley low'. A woodcut has been included at the top of the sheet. It shows a vanquished man in a wooded glade, surrounded by threatening advisories.

This ballad was probably quite popular with the audiences of its time as there are many occurrences of it the National Library of Scotland's collection. Certainly the elements of this story are adventures and emotive. The soldier, Henry, and meets, falls in love with and makes an honest woman of Mary. He is then posted elsewhere and rather than be parted from her lover, Mary cross-dresses and follows him. As result she has to witness his horrific death and then begin to rebuild her life. The climactic scene of the poem is reflected in the woodcut at the top of the page.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable period of publication: 1830-1850   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(198)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Paisley Officer'
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