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Broadsheet featuring the ballads 'The Sailor's Courtship' and 'The Request of the Poor'

Date: 1802 - 1844
Overall: 248 x 192 mm, 0.015 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017408
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A broadsheet featuring the ballads 'The Sailor's Courtship' and 'The Request of the Poor'.
    This broadsheet features two distinct types of ballads popular at the time. The first, 'The Sailor's Courtship', is a sentimental and romantic ballad that was sung freely on the streets and in parlours. True and endearing love in a pastoral or maritime setting was a continual and sought after theme. The other ballad, 'The Request of the Poor' highlights a different role of the ballad. That of a social or political voice that highlighted current economic or social issues effecting mainly the poor but also at times, the military, farmers, business owners etc.

    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.

    A pretty young shepherdess was keeping her sheep,
    On the rocks that was near the sea side;
    A pretty young sailor by chance came that way,
    And fain would make her his bride.

    The weather being warm she laid to sleep,
    Which made him to sigh and to say;
    He kissed hew sweet lips as she lay fast asleep,
    And cried you have stole my heart away

    I'm just come from the ship that you see,
    On this rock I'm landed alone,
    I hope my dear to find some comfort here,
    Or else I'm for ever undone.

    Dear sailor says she how can you fancy me,
    I never can give my consent,
    For when you're on the seas I ne'er can take my ease,
    But be left for to sigh and lament.

    Dear shepherdess says he if you can fancy me,
    I've plenty of gold and silver in store,
    The sea I'll forsake and promise I'll make,
    To you I'll be true evermore.

    See gave her consent and was married next day,
    With him she's blest for evermore,
    Joy love and peace their hearts doth increase,
    And the sailor his shepherdess adore.

    So all pretty maidens who are keeping of sheep,
    Your flocks I'll never forsake,
    Take a sailor for life, he'll make you his wife,
    And a sailor your fortune will make.


    YOU gentlemen of England wherever you be,
    I pray give attention and listen unto me;
    Relieve the poor in time of distress,
    For they stand in great need, and the Lord he will you bless.

    There are thousands in England have riches in store,
    I hope they'll be kind and remember the poor,
    For they can't purchase heaven with glittering and gold,
    But the poor they may relieve from hunger and cold.

    The times are hard you very well know,
    And thousandsof men have no work to do,
    If we go to the parish and ask for relief,
    We are disdain'd like a beggar and look'd on like a thief.

    If we are young and single the offiicers say,
    You may work on the road for sixpence a day,
    Sixpence a day it is shocking to har,
    It will not find us food provisions are so dear.

    We must pray to the graziers to afford us relief,
    To reduce the high price of mutton and beef,
    I don't know the reason why meat is so dear,
    So little is consumed by those trat are poor.

    Our little master tradesmen their trade is so bad,
    With rents, rates and taxes it drives them half mad,
    They feel the oppression of these times I'm sure,
    And can scarcely keep the baliff from the door.

    There's such pinching and griping amongst great and small,
    But pinching the belly is the worst pinch of all;
    I had t'other day these lines from a friend,
    But I hope from my heart the times will amend.

    Money gets money - many people thrive,
    While thousands of people can hardly survive,
    I hope these few lines will not you offend,
    For if you've got money you'll find a true friend.

    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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