Broadsheet ballad titled 'Willam & Nancy's Parting'.
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.
HistoryWILLIAM & NANCY'S PARTING.
Come all you pretty maidens that have a mind to go,
Along with your true-love to face the dareing foe,
For I've a mind to venture where the cannon ball do fly
All along with my true-love I'll go my fortune to try,
He said, my dearest Nancy, I hope you'll not repine,
For I must go on bord, our noble fleet to join,
Our orders are to sea, my dear, and now we must away,
So make yourself coutented behind me for to stay.
She replied, sweet william, I pray don't leave me,
I'll dress myself in sailors array, with you I will steer
Let me with yon your mess mate for to be,
And when on board a man of war I'll fight manfully.
He said, my lovely maiden, great danger is at sea,
Perhaps we may be shipwreck'd or the ship be cast away
And in the line of battle perhaps you may be slad,
So make yourself contented behind me for to remain
Your pretty little fingers they are so long and small,
You'd think it hard usage our cable ropes to haul;
When winds they blow high and billow loudly roar,
So make yourself contented, my dear, and stay on shore,
ANd my love is gone a broad as I must tell you plain,
Kind heaven protect him to plow the raging main,
Protect him from all danger where the cannon balls do fly,
And send sweet william back again as I may him enjoy.
Broadsides were issued by a number of London publishers for selling by hawkers on the street and were a popular form of entertainment in 18th and 19th century England. By their very nature they are extremely fragile and ephemeral ;as a result they are notably scarce in good condition .
They were also known as 'roadsheet’, 'broadsheet', ‘stall’, ‘vulgar’ or ‘come all ye’ ballads'. In the 19th century many ballads were written about people emigrating. A large number to escape the difficult economic conditions they faced or to try and make their fortunes to bring home.The ballads reflect a deep love of their home place and in many cases the hero - usually male – is pining for a loved one he had to leave behind.