Broadsheet ballad titled 'Harry Hawser'.
The ballad tells the tale of Harry Hawser, a fisherman. After he is drowned in a storm, his wife Nancy also then dies of despair.
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.
One morn when the wind o'er the ocean skim'd lightly
Andt he surge slowly rippled against the sand shore
Harry Hawser, afisherman, bold and built tightly,
Prepare'd his trim skiff, as he oft done before:
But his Nancy to whom he scarce a week had been shackled,
Felt a dread at the parting, and prayed he'd remain
He smil'd at her fears, cried I'm well rigg'd and tackled,
Ere night-fall my Nancy shall see me again.
Round his neck with a heart of foreboding his wife hung
He kissed the salt tear from her cheek, bade adieu,
Coil'd his nets and on board his skiff with life sprung,
Hoisted sail, waved his hand, and acceded from view
Success crowned his efforts beyond far his looking
And he whistled and sung in praise of his Nan,
His net lines and tackle he presently took in,
Tacked about and homeward with full sail he ran.
But the winds quickly veering -- the clouds thickned heavy
The rain poured in torrents and loud thunder roar'd
The billows rolled high, and the lighting was vivid,
The mast it was shivered and went by the board;
Then soon poor Hawser in vain, as practice advised him,
Strove to goern the skiff which he found leaky grew
Death stared in his face and a wave soon capsized him
His last words were, 'dear Nancy thy fears were too true.'
A night of distraction poor Nancy passed o'er
Blue burnt th flame, and her heart fondly beat,
As day broke she hastened to traverse the sea shore
Bare headed in hopes, her dear Hawser to meet.
Form by the waves newly thrown she spied out
A form too well known, 'twas her Hawser so brave
She fell on his breast kissed his cold lips and sigh'd out
'Tis thy bosom my Hawser shall be thy Nancy's grave.
the news wer soon spread, and the beech quickly crowded,
To see the fate of this couple so true,
Every heart felt a pang every brow their was clouded
The tear drop of pity each cheek did bedew,
the grave they were borne as his bosom she died on
Cheek to cheek, heart to heart, in the dust they laid were
the mast of the wreck at their head was inscribed on
Here lies Harry Hawser and Nancy his dear.
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.