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Broadsheet ballad titled 'The Crafty London Prentice, Or, Bow Bells.'

Date: 1802 - 1844
Overall: 250 x 89 mm, 0.023 kg
Medium: Printed text on paper mounted on card
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00031076
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    Broadsheet ballad titled 'The Crafty London Prentice, Or, Bow Bells.' The ballad tells the tale od deception between a London apprentice and his mistress. THe 'Bow Bells' refer to the bells of St-Mary-le-Bow, a church in east London's cheapside district. Tradition has it that only those who were born within the hearing area of the bells, could be called 'cockney'.
    SignificanceBroadsheets were designed as printed ephemera to be published and distributed rapidly. This also meant they were quickly disposed of with many of them not surviving the test of time. The museum's broadsheet collection is therefore a rare and valuable example of how maritime history was communicated to a wide audience, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. They vibrantly illustrate many of the themes and myths surrounding life at sea. Some of them also detail stories about transportation, migration.

    WHEN I was a prentice in fair London town,
    I had a cruel mistress as ever could be found,
    she would oftimes to the tavern go her wanton tricks to play,
    Jack swore that he would fit her for't, and with her he would lay,
    Jack bowwow'd a suit of clothes so fine and gay,
    A knotted wig and feather'd cap and sword hung by his side
    A knotted wig and feather'd cap and sword hung down withal
    He went unti a tavernand loud for a romm did call,
    He had not long been in the room e'er a knock or two he gave,
    Up jumpt the nimble waiter to know what Jack would have
    Two pictures then were brought to him for Jack to choose his miss,
    One was his own dear mistress says Jack d--e I'll have this.

    As they were at their pastime Bow bells began to ring,
    Is not this a pleasent place and we where are not seen,
    Is not this a pleasent place to hear Bow bells to go,
    I like to hear them very well and so do you I know,
    Jack return'd the clothes and straightaway home did ?
    He had not long been there when his mistress came in
    He had not long been there when his mistress came in,
    But little did sh dream or think he knew where he had been.
    she had not long been in the room befor she did begin
    she caught hi by the hair of the head and down she did him fling,
    Come hold your han dear mistress I hear now Bow Bells do go,
    I like to hear them ringing and so do you I know
    O you trappanning rascal have you trappanned me so
    I would not for five hundred pounds your master he should know,
    It would fill his head with jealously his heart would break with woe,
    I would not for five hunred pounds that your master he should know,
    Instead of hits and kicks she gav him a kiss
    A guinea she slipt in his hand and said more you shall have,
    If you will this secret keep and nothing say at all,
    Money you shall not want and I'll be at your call.

    Broadsheet rhymes and verses were the cheapest prints available during the 18th and 19th century. They were sold by street sellers known as Flying Stationers, who charged a minimal fee of a penny or half-penny. They featured popular songs that were often sung in homes, inns and taverns and covered a range of themes relating to contemporary events or stories. Printed alongside the songs were woodcut illustrations. Most of the broadsheet publishers did not date or mark their works, making it difficult to pinpoint when they were produced.

    The publication of ballads was part of the commemoration and production of material about shipwrecks. Ships were part of the everyday life in the 19th century and stories about their voyages, wrecks, record breaking voyages and commissions often featured in newspapers and commemorative souvenirs.
    Related People
    Printer: John Pitts

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