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Ballad from a broadsheet titled 'The Welcome Sailor'

Date: 1802 - 1844
Overall: 241 x 103 mm, 0.024 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017388
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A broadsheet titled `The Welcome Sailor' printed by Pitts, Printer, wholesale Toy and Marble Warehouse.The ballad outlines the story of a sailor who encounters a distressed girl whom he later convinces to marry him.
    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 and migration.

    AS I walked out one night, it being dark all over,
    The moon did show no light, I cou'd discover,
    Down by a river side where ships were sailing,
    A lovely maid I ' spied weeping and bewailing.

    I boldly stept up to her, I asked what grieved her;
    She made me this reply, none could relieve her,
    For my love is press'd she cried, to cross the ocean;
    My mind is like the sea always in motion.

    He said, my pretty fair maid, mark well my story,
    For your true love and I fought for England's glory;
    By one unlucky shot we both got parted,
    And by the wounds he got I'm broken hearted.

    He told me before he died his heart was broken;
    He gave met his gold ring; take it for a token.
    Take this unto my dear, there is no one fairer,
    Tell her to be kind and love the bearer.

    Soon as these words he spoke she run distracted,
    Not knowing what she had done nor how she acted,
    She run and tore her hair, showing her anger;
    Young man you come to late, for I'll wed no stranger.

    Soon as those words spoke her love grew stronger,
    He flew into her arms, he could wait no longer,
    They both sat down and sung, she sung but clearest,
    Like a nightingale in spring, welcome home my dearest.

    She sung God bless the wind that blew him over;
    She sung od bles the ship that brought him over;
    So they both sat down and sung, she sung the clearest,
    Like a nightingale in spring, welcome home my dearest.

    Broadsheets or broadsides, as they were also known, were originally used to communicate official or royal decrees. They were printed on one side of paper and became a popular medium of communication between the 16th and 19th centuries in Europe, particularly Britain. They were able to be printed quickly and cheaply and were widely distributed in public spaces including churches, taverns and town squares.

    The cheap nature of the broadside and its wide accessibility meant that its intended audience were often literate individuals but from varying social standings. The illiterate may have also had access to this literature as many of the ballads were designed to be read aloud.

    The ballads also covered a wide range of subject matter such as witchcraft, epic war battles, murder and maritime themes and events. They were suitably dramatic and often entertaining, but occasionally they were designed as elaborate cautionary tales for those contemplating a life of crime.

    The broadside ballads in the museum's collection were issued by a range of London printers and publishers for sale on the streets by hawkers. They convey, often comically, stories about love, death, shipwrecks, convicts and pirates. Each ballad communicates a sense that these stories were designed to be read aloud for all to enjoy, whether it was at the local tavern or a private residence.
    Related People
    Printer: John Pitts

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