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12 April 2014

Devon printed broadsides

The printed broadsides of Devon

Note: This presentation was made at the seminar "Traditional songs of Devon and its neighbours" organised by the Devonshire Association and the Traditional Song Forum at Plymouth Central Library on 12 April 2014. For copyright reasons it is not possible to include all the illustrations shown at the presentation.

1. What are broadsides.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper printed on one side only. They can consist of an entire sheet of hand-made paper, a half-sheet, quarter sheet or smaller sections. Hand-made paper was expensive; paper made up the highest proportion of a printer or publisher's costs in the period of hand printing so it would be more efficient to use both sides of a sheet of paper. It is not surprising therefore that a printer would sometimes re-use the back of waste sheets. Nevertheless there were occasions when printing on one side of a sheet was required, when a work was to be posted up, or when it was to be declaimed.

Broadsides are among the earliest printed items to survive. Gutenberg printed indulgences in 1454 and one of Caxton's first surviving pieces of printing is an advertisement for one of his publications.

From this we can see that music or rather song texts are only part of the broadside repertoire. Religious texts, whether indulgences, devotional images or polemical tracts are one genre. Official publications such as proclamations or legal forms such as apprentice indentures are another important group. Posters, such as notices of meetings, theatre playbills or auction sales are another category.

The most important for our purpose today is the use of broadsides for popular literature. Yet even here ballads are not the only category. Current events were reported, often very luridly: execution broadsheets, accounts of battles, shipwrecks, fires, floods, murders, election addresses, political and satirical works, royal visits, comments on social conditions – a reflection of all aspects of society. There is a certain cross-over with ballad literature. A high proportion of these texts were wholly or partially in verse and many of our folk songs have a basis in historical events.

There are two ways of looking at Devon broadsides:

  • Broadsides with Devon content. These will be treated broadly chronologically.
  • Broadsides by Devon printers. These will be treated by town and printer.

2. Broadsides with Devon content.

The earliest surviving Devon broadside ballad, God hath gyven our kynge the victorye, dates from 1549 and has as its subject the Western Rebellion. It is known only from fragments in the British Library, the Bodleian and the Henry Huntingdon Library in California. The interest in current events is evident among several of the earliest ballads, including:

Sir Walter Rauleigh his lamentation Who was beheaded in the old Pallace at Westminster the 22 of October. 1618. To the tune of Welladay. Devonians also edge their way into A brave warlike Song. Containing a briefe rehearsall of the deeds of Chivalry, performed by the Nine VVorthies of the world, the seaven Champions of Christendome, with many other remarkable Warriours. To the tune of List lusty Gallants.

The second Part. "Containing other brave VVarriours not ranckt among the VVorthies, though as worthy" includes mention of Drake, Frobisher, Hawkins and Richard Pike of Tavistock.

One of the earliest Devon ballads describes a murder, that of Page of Plymouth, committed by George Strangwidge and two hired murderers, at the instigation of Page's wife, which caused a good deal of excitement at the time. They were tried at Barnstaple, condemned, executed, and buried in the churchyard there in March, 1591. Ben Jonson and Dekker wrote a play upon it, frequently acted, but never published. Several ballads on the subject seem to have been printed in the same year but the first surviving one is by Thomas Deloney entitled:

The lamentation of Master Pages wife of Plimmouth, who being enforced by her parents to wed him against her will, did most wickedly consent to his murther, for the loue of George Strangwidge: for which fact she suffered death at Barstable in Deuonshire.

One early edition has been dated to 1609 and it also includes The lamentation of George Strangwidge, who for consenting to the death of Master Page of Plimmouth, suffered death at Barstable. 1609 and The sorrowfull complaint of Mistris Page, for causing her husband to be murthered, for the loue of George Strangwidge, who were executed together. This ballad had great popularity and remained in the printers' repertoire until the latter part of the 18th century. It reflects the eternal fascination with crime and ne'er-do-wells also manifested in a 1624 title:

A new Ballad intituled, the stout Cripple of Cornwall, wherein is shewed his dissolute life and deserued death. To the tune of, the blind Beggar.

Despite its title this has Devon interest as the cripple made his way to Exeter and encountered Lord Courtenay. This is another popular item with eight editions recorded until the mid 18th century.

These are only a small proportion of the many hundreds of ballad titles entered on the registers of the Stationers' Company between 1557 and 1640. The stern puritans of the Commonwealth frowned on the frivolity of ballads and we have to await the Restoration for a revival in which the West Country figures more prominently.

Among the earliest titles is A warning for married women : Being an example of Mrs. Jane Reynolds (a west-country-woman) born neer Plimouth who having plighted her troth to a seaman, was afterwards married to a carpenter, and at last carried away by a spirit, the manner how shall presently be recited To a west-country tune, called, The fair maid of Bristol, another popular title with six recorded editions into the 18th century. As "The house carpenter" it even found its way to the Appalachians in America. It reflects the interest in relationships between the sexes reflected in the later 17th century in titles such as:

The West country lovers : See here the pattern of true love amongst the country blades, who never can delighted be, but when amongst the maids

The secret lovers, or, The jealous father beguil'd : Loves passion is not easily put under, nor faithful lovers to be kept asunder; because you know the proverb it is so that love will creep when as it cannot go. To a west-country tune

True love exalted: or, A dialogue between a courteous young knight of the city of London, and a searge weavers daughter of Devonshire

It would also be good if Devon could lay claim to The west country delight but the subtitle locates it just over the border: Hey for Zommerzet-Shire : Lively delineating how jocund they be, that jerk it, and ferk it, under the green-wood tree. To a new tune of, O how they did firk it: or, Salengers round.

The supernatural also figures in such titles as: A strange banquet, or, The divels entertainment by Cook Laurell at the Peak in Devonshire : with a true relation of the several dishes. The tune is, Cook Laurell, a work by Ben Jonson printed in London for William Gilbertson some time around 1660. There are also more general social vignettes such as:

A looking-glass for a covetous miser: or, Comfort to a contented minde : Being a serious discourse between a rich miser in the west country, and a poor husband-man, as they accidentally met upon the way, or

Tom and Rogers contract: or what Devon-farmers use to act : Two farmers lately met in Devon-shire, and so by chance they drank a pot of beer; and since it was within the month of May, I will declare to you what they did say.

In the 1680s political ballads begin to make more of an appearance. The landing of William of Orange at Brixham in 1688 resulted in:

A full description of these times, or The Prince of Orange's march from Exeter to London : and Father Peters and the rest of the Jesuites put to flight. The Pope and Jesuit[e?] are undone, they could not England overcome to bring it into popery, though very boldly they did try; until a prince came o're the main, and blasted all that they had done; and now there is no more to be sed, they run all away and hide their heads. This ballad could be sung to the tune of Packingtons pound.

A patriotic note is also sounded in: The Devonshire boys courage and loyalty to their Majesties King William and Queen Mary : in defending their country from the invasion of the French. To an excellent new tune; call'd The Devonshire boys delight.

Black letter or gothic type predominated in broadside ballads and continued to find favour long after it had been abandoned for most other types of printing apart from statutes, perhaps a conscious archaising and a feeling even at that date for the tradition embodied in the ballad. So far all ballads were printed in London, even though their inspiration may be drawn from other regions of the British Isles. In England strict regulation of the press limited printing to London, Oxford and Cambridge until the lapse of the Licensing Act in 1695 when printing began to spread to the provinces. Also for a while the broadside format began to lose favour to chapbooks, also on a single sheet or half sheet of paper but printed on both sides, folded twice to make an eight page booklet or three times to make a sixteen page item. A local uncut example is:

The new art and mystery of gossipping : being a genuine account of all the women’s clubs about London. - Exon : Printed by Thomas Brice, in Goldsmith’s Street ; where travellers and shopkeepers may be supplied , [1783?]. - 8p ; 8°.

Sometimes two or more sheets would be stitched together. Chapbooks had a wider range of content including jest books, almanacks, fortune telling and prognostications or accounts of crime and adventure. They could also appear as songbooks, able to contain the texts of a number of ballads in what were often called garlands. Two examples, one locally printed and the other with local content:

The Exeter garland in five parts : being a tragical account of two loyal lovers of Exeter, [1780?]. - 8p ; 16°

The Plymouth tragedy, or fair Susan’s overthrow. And the careful maiden. - Coventry : Printed and sold at the Printing-Office near the Cross , [1760?]

Nevertheless there was a revival in broadside ballads, partly due to London firms which specialised in popular literature, such as Dicey and Marshall in Aldermary Churchyard, and the London printers were now joined by a number of printers in the provinces, such as John White in Newcastle upon Tyne.

A number of new local titles appeared in the course of the 18th century. Some examples with the approximate first dates they are recorded as broadside ballads:

1711 The merry broomfield: or, the west country wager : To a new tune. One edition is recorded by John White in Newcastle.
1735 Sweet William of Plymouth. This also reflects the naval interest. The first line is: "A seaman of Devon, sweet William by name"
1750 Fun upon fun: or, the stark-naked west-country wedding.
1750 The Plymouth tragedy : or, fair Susan's overthrow. This is an extremely popular title, appearing many times into the 19th century.
1760 The two loyal lovers of Exeter: In five parts. Tune of The disconsolate lover. A long list of printers includes Turner of Coventry in the early 19th century.
1785 Sweet Poll of Plymouth. The author of this is John O'Keeffe (1747 –1833) the Irish actor and dramatist who also wrote a number of comic operas. This song, which tells of the pressgang, is from his farce A positive man, written in 1782 and shows how songs sung in the theatre or in pleasure gardens such as Vauxhall could enter a wider popular repertoire. It also generated The sequel to Poll of Plymouth, recorded a few years later.
1795 William and a young nobleman's ramble into the west country : Where they were pressed, carried on board a tender, and brought to the gangway to be flogged tells of "Duke William and a nobleman, heroes of England's nation". Duke William is Prince William Henry, later William IV and it is a patriotic piece typical of the period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

In 19th century came a massive revival in broadside ballads, spearheaded by two active printers in Seven Dials: Catnach and Pitts. There seems to have been a deliberate attempt at archaising among some of the printers. Pitts for example adopted the long "s" in the 1820s long after it had been generally abandoned, and many of the woodcut illustrations also dated from a bygone era. A London item from the early 19th century:

The Plymouth tragedy; or, fair Susan’s overthrow. - [London] : Printed and sold by J. Evans and Sons, Long Lane West Smithfield

There are relatively few Devon titles, with a preponderance of Irish or Scottish damsels. The Highland lasses and Erin colleens were later joined by nigger minstrels. A few Devon titles from the 19th century:

1830 The Devonport lad in London or Jemmy Johnson squeeze me.
1840 Lovely Jane of Devonshire ("There was a blooming maiden the truth I will declare ...").
1884 Committal of John Lee for the alleged murder of Mrs. Keyes near Torquay. Air – The Miser. - London : H. Such, Machine Printer and Publisher, 177, Union Street, Boro’ S. E. (Devon Heritage Centre: ME 1884). A late example of a broadside ballad, this one relating to "the man they could not hang".

From 1840 or earlier dates I'm the wandering bard from Exeter. An unsigned edition of this little-known item is in Baring-Gould's collection but it is also recorded by Pitts and Catnach in London and in Birmingham in the 1830s the printer Wright offers us a version starting "I'm the wandering bard of Manchester" – a warning to folk song researchers of how songs as well as bards can wander. Nevertheless it is worth quoting to show the often piteous circumstances under which these ballads were hawked around:
I'm the wandering bard from Exeter,
From scribbling can't refrain,
It's poverty compels me,
To come in the rain,
Hard is my fate, I have no estate,
And must either sing or cry,
My lot is cast I am forced at last,
To ask of you to buy.

Cold winter is now approaching,
But I have no clothes for to pack,
None have I left behind me,
For they are all on my back,
I come into the ale-house,
Just to take a cup of beer,
It always makes me cheerful,
Tho' the times are hard,
Now buy my song be it right or wrong,
'Twill help a wand'ring bard.
3. Devon printers of broadsides.

Which brings us neatly to a survey of broadside ballads printed in Exeter and other towns in Devon.

Exeter received its first permanent press in 1698 and ballads seem to have figured in the output from the earliest days. In 1716 Philip Bishop was imprisoned for printing a Jacobite ballad Nero secundus and died in prison awaiting trial. However the earliest surviving Exeter broadside ballads date from the 1760s. Among the oldest is:

A new song, addressed to the honest freemen of Exeter. Tune of 'Tis of an old woman of Grimstone, an election handbill, probably from 1761, in favour of the sitting members for Exeter. There are other broadsides from the same election.

Another early example, from a printer otherwise unknown in Exeter is an account od a naval encounter from 1774:

Some of the earliest signed broadside ballads in Exeter come from the press of a woman printer, Elizabeth Brice, a widow who had succeeded to her husband's business. At the time she was in partnership with her son Thomas and together they produced in 1780 and 1781 Remonstrance of the American officers, from the London Gazette of last Saturday, December the 2d 1780. Rhymified by Thomas Brice and The Dutch answer to the British manifesto, probably also from the pen of Thomas Brice.
Elizabeth continued alone after Thomas set up his own workshop. She specialised in horrid murders in a horrid typographical style but produced about 1782:

The Newfoundland sailor unsigned but with the same woodcut of a ship as appears in The sorrowful lamentation of Miss Sarah West. The unhappy young lady who lost her life with her sweetheart on board the formidable man of war commanded by the brave Rodney, in the engagement with De Grasse, was killed at the round top.

Thomas Brice was a more accomplished printer. In the course of the 1780s he produced a number of items, many of a political or satirical nature, such as in 1781 Successes in East-India, starting "Now, ye Britons, rejoice;" with a long footnote on the disposition of the French and British forces in the Indies. From 1782 dates Elegy, on the much-lamented death of Lady Courtenay, signed and dated: T. B. Exon, April 6, 1782. Lady Frances Courtenay, widow of Sir William Courtenay, died on 25th of March, 1782. He was also probably the author of:

The lamentation of Rebecca Downing : condemn'd to be burnt at Heavitree, near Exeter, on Monday, July 29, 1782, for poisoning her master, Richard Jarvis. The maid's lamentation for loss of her shepherd is on the same sheet as Rodney triumphant, and France humbled, a song commemorating Admiral Rodney's victory of 1782, one of several verse celebrations of Rodney. From 1783 dates Address of thanks, from the English virgins of sixteen to the Hon. Charles-James Fox : for his zeal to obtain an amendment of the marriage-act, to enable females to marry at sixteen and males at eighteen. Put into rhyme by their typographic amanuensis, Thomas Brice.

Thomas Brice continued to print until about 1802 but few broadsheets are recorded after this one. The art and mystery of gossiping, a 1783 prose broadside, includes the statement "Printed by Thomas Brice in Goldsmith Street, where travellers and shopkeepers may be supplied". He is described as "a scholar, though of republican principles" by John Cooke.

Robert Trewman is best known as the printer of the long-running newspaper Trewman's Exeter Flying Post but in the period around 1793 he printed in partnership with his son a number of patriotic broadsheets including

Church and King. A song. Tune ----- "Rule Britannia.", a slip-song contrasting the state of revolutionary France with that of Great Britain, The loyal Briton. A song. "delivered (gratis) by the Constitutional Society and A song, tune - "God save the King." starting "Hark! from the trump of fame,".

Also in the 1790s Joseph M'Kenzie produced Paradise lost, and paradise regained a religious text often published in chap book form and Man of War which starts "Once a pretty lass I courted".

But Exeter's most prolific ballad printer was Thomas Besley, active from about 1801 until he handed the business to his son in 1834. He also published directories from 1828, and Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset sheet almanacks. Two examples:

Buy a broom.- Exeter : Besley, printer, [1800/30]. Our King is a true British sailor. -Exeter : Besley, printer , [1830/37]

A collection of 58 ballads is recorded in the British Library. English Folk Dance and Song Society's song index had 127 records for the Besleys in 2012, some of them dateable to the 1820s and 1830s, for example A New Song Composed by Thomas Heydon of Stratton, Cornwall. On a most Dreadful Shipwreck, that happened at a place called Widemouth, near the harbour of Bude, and the Town of Stratton, on the 23rd November, 1824, issued by T and H Besley and Bay of Biscay O! also by T. and H. Besley. Roly Brown has analysed the content of Besley's output in great detail. There is virtually nothing with Devon content. Most of his stock was also printed by Pitts or Catnach in London and a range of provincial printers and titles reveal many Scottish or Irish items:

Plymouth had a printing press even before Exeter with Daniel Jordaine recorded in 1696 but the Jordaine family and their successors remain shadowy figures in the 18th century. John Jordaine, presumably Daniel's son, is recorded very patchily from the 1730s to the 1770s in Plymouth's municipal records, for example printing water leases, and a verse elegy is recorded from 1732: An elegy: made on the Rev. Mr. William Stephens, late Vicar of St. Andrew's Church in Plymouth; who departed this life on Thursday the 16th day of March, 1731-2, by a Lover of all good men.

We have to wait till the 1780s for a few unsigned pieces, which could equally well have come from Plymouth Dock, such as an attack on the Dock commissioners for their injustice and profligacy:

The busy fellows in the suds. A new song. Tune - Vicar and Mosey, by Junius Gingle. The final three lines, "Here's nothing about the small bread. I'm a friend to a baker. Pray read the ballad.", refers to The town in a hurry; or, the Dock dance. A new ballad which is printed on the same side of the sheet in such a way that it could be separated as a complete entity, and which is signed and dated: Junius Gingle. Dock, August the 11th, 1785.

The quarter day, about rent-collecting, mentions the building of the new London Bridge in 1831 ; Tom Starboard, credited to a T Knight ; My friend and pitcher, by John O'Keeffe (1747-1843) ; Dot and carry one [and] The coal meter.

The new town of Plymouth Dock, in 1824 renamed Devonport, is much more active than Plymouth in the 19th century. Elias Keys, active from about 1830 to 1870 was the most important ballad printer in Devon. He worked in 6 or 7 James Street from the 1830s to the 1850s, moving to 47, St. Aubyn Street in the 1860s when he entered into partnership with his sons Samuel and John. Almost 300 titles printed by the Keys family are known.

My friend and pitcher [and] Fair Betsy of Plymouth, and her young sailor bold. Air. – Boys of Kilkenny. - Devonport : Printed by E. Keys, 7, James-street where hawkers and travellers may be supplied cheaper than at any other house in the West of England. Sold also by R. Stone, Exeter; and by W. Burridge, Truro, Cornwall , [1825/50]. The extended imprint shows the type of business Keys was running. He had established a network of distributors across the region. Names that appear on other imprints include: R. Stone, Exeter ; John Evans, Barnstaple ; W.Burridge, Truro ; H. Jacobs, Newton Abbot ; S. Reed, Newport and J. Perrow, St Austell.

Keys had a couple of competitors: John Mudge, Printer, bookseller, stationer is recorded at 90, James Street in 1824, Catherine Street 1823-30, Staffords Hill 1831 and 31, King Street in 1839. He was bankrupt in 1832. Among his output:

Cornish miners: one and all [and] Cherry ripe. - Devonport : J. Mudge, printer , [1820/40]

William Picken, printer and stationer is recorded at 41, Chapel Street in 1830 and 38, Tavistock Street in 1840. Single sheet items recorded include:

The drunken wife. A companion to the Drunken husband. Tune. – “Dumble dum deary [and] Love’s a tyrant. - Devonport : Printed and sold by W. Picken, 38, Tavistock-St., Devonport. Where may be had a great variety of the most choice songs, sheet songs, scripture pieces, memorandum books, spelling books, reading easies, primers penny and halfpenny history books, writing papers, &c., cheaper than any other house in the kingdom. Country orders, (cash enclosed,) promptly executed , [1840?].

The village bells [and] The rigs and humours of the fair. Woman is the comfort of man [and] The glasses sparkle. Love's a tyrant. His products were also sold by "R. Bond, junr. 3 Bull-Hill, near the Guildhall, Plymouth, and R. Bond, senr. 23, Bond Street, Jersey".

Bideford is the unlikely location for the third most prolific ballad printer in Devon.

John Wilson who was a jack of all trades: printer, bookseller, bookbinder, engraver, newspaper publisher, tea agent, ship broker and owner. He was active on the Quay in 1830, High street 1840-1844, Allhalland Street 1850-1854 and Bridge Street 1854-1861. He was born in Great Torrington in 1799, the son of Robert, printer whom he succeeded in business by 1824. He died in 1865 and was succeeded by his sons as Wilson Brothers.

The outlandish knight.- Bideford : Wilson , [1820/50].
Opening of the North Devon Railway, from Bideford to Barnstaple, on Monday 29th October 1855. - Bideford : Wilson, [1855].

Nearby in Barnstaple a number of broadside poems by the local author Thomas Billinger are to be found in the North Devon Athenaeum. They were printed in the years around 1797 to 1801, some by the local printer J. Avery. (Peter Christie "Thomas Billinger and his broadside poems" Devon Historian 73, 2006, 2-6). William Searle and later his son Samuel ran a printing business which was set up in the first years of the 19th century, working in Boutport Street 1823-1830 and 15, High Street 1844 until at least 1878.

The misseltoe bough [and] I would be a soldier still. - [and] The fairies’ song. - Barnstaple : S. Searle, Printer, [1847/60].

He had taken his son into partnership by 1844 and he succeeded William on his death in 1847. He "rebuilt his printing-offices and bookbinding rooms on a very extended scale" and lists items available in his front shop in the Western Standard 21 May 1852. He operated a circulating library and acted as a box office for the theatre. He became a pillar of the community, established Western Standard and North Devon General Advertiser, a conservative paper, in 1852 and the monthly Mercantile Gazette in 1854. He was the secretary of the Barnstaple and North Devon Permanent Building Society from its establishment in 1851 to 1881. It is probable that he laid aside his father's ballad printing.

In smaller communities printers also eked out a living from the occasional ballad. In Honiton Thomas Snell, printer, bookseller and stationer. In the High Street in the 1820s has one surviving sheet with ballads printed on both sides:

Betsy Watson [and] The streams of lovely Nancy and, on the verso: The unfortunate farmer [‘Twas in the month of August in cutting of the corn' and] Down in our village.

In Tiverton Edward Boyce, printer, bookseller, stationer in Fore Street from the 1790s until his death in 1823 cashed in on a local occurrence in about 1810 with:

The Sampford ghost, examined on oath!!!

In Tavistock a local printer, perhaps Thomas or Samuel Chave, produced a number of items for the 1857 election including what he termed "election ballads": The Old Woter; or the windbag blown: a tale of consistency, sung by a young woter and Traitors, trimmers, turncoats, and Trelawny; or, Tavistock suited to a T.

From Okehampton comes The Ashbury tragedy, by Thomas Hooper of Jacobstow. - Okehampton : Simmons , 1827.

Our survey ends ignominiously in the small town of Cullompton in the printing office of William Rowe, first recorded in 1823. Some time after that he printed the ballad I was the boy for bewitching 'em but he found himself in trouble in March 1828 when he was prosecuted by the local miller in case of the King v. Rowe. The Times reports on 27 March 1828:
The King v. Rowe

The prosecutor in this case is a miller at Collumpton, and the defendant a printer at the same place. Some difference having arisen between the two parties, the printer so far abused the liberty of the press as to publish a song of and concerning the prosecutor, whom he accused in the song of various very filthy practices, which must, if they existed, have prevented the customers of the prosecutor from continuing to purchase their bread of him.
Mr. Sergeant Bompas, who stated the case for the prosecution, read the song, which was a parody upon the little poem of "My Mother." It was gross and very stupid, and there was not a line in it which contained anything approaching to humour.
The case having been proved for the prosecution, Mr. Jeremy addressed the jury for the defendant; after which, the learned Judge summed up the evidence, and the Jury found the defendant Guilty of printing and publishing.
His Lordship then sentenced the defendant to be imprisoned in the gaol for two months, and give security for his good behaviour.

The Exeter Flying Post gives a fuller report and even quotes an extract:
Who and to make his bread more nice,
On the dough-board cracks his children's lice
And mixes them with his cakes for spice?
The miller.
Rowe seems to have survived his imprisonment and picked up his business, being recorded up to the 1850s.

4. Some final thoughts.

The case of Rowe leads into some more general considerations on the printed ballad as it demonstrates several aspects of the evolution of the folk tradition. Rowe's unfortunate poem shows the origin of much folk literature in topical events, which only the passage of time have made traditional. It also provides an example of words of one song to the tune of another; in this case "My mother" is forced into the service of Rowe's unfortunate outpouring. From the earliest times printed ballads suggest a well-known tune to which words can be sung. Different printers may have alternative suggestions for tunes and we have seen how words can be adapted to different contexts. Study of the content of different printers' stocks also shows how titles can be shared across the country and there is not necessarily much local content in Devon printer's publications. The distribution by hawkers often travelling long distances also makes for a very fluid situation.

Baring-Gould and other folk song collectors were active at the end of a long tradition and only gathering the songs that were popular at the time. The survival of so many broadside ballads over a period of three centuries sheds much light on the origin of the songs that were being sung in the Devon countryside at the end of the nineteenth century and also reveal something of the repertoire of earlier generations.

Copyright © Ian Maxted 2014
This page last updated 12 April 2014.