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The Broadside Ballad

  • Sandra Clark
Chapter
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Abstract

I open this chapter with a statement of limitation: of all the broadside ballads extant from the years 1575–1700 only about 30 actually deal with the subject of crimes committed by women. A larger number are concerned with crimes committed by men, which necessarily form part, perhaps the most immediate part, of the context for my main subject. Of course, a high proportion of those ballads we know, mainly through entries in the registers of the Stationers’ Company, to have been written in the period have perished, and some of these were certainly about women’s crimes. It is particularly regrettable, for my purposes, that the four ballads registered on the subject of Anne Brewen’s murder of her husband, recorded in the pamphlet, The trueth of the most wicked & secret murthering of Iohn Brewen, Goldsmith of London (1592), have all disappeared;1 so too other ballads linked with extant pamphlets about women’s crimes, such as the ballad of ‘the woman that was Lately burnt in Saint Georges feildes’,2 probably about Margaret Fernseede; ‘Two unnaturall Mothers’,3 probably about the infanticidal women described by Henry Goodcole as Natures Cruell Step-Dames (1637); the ‘sorrowful ballad made by Mistris Browne … consentinge to the killinge of her husband’;4 and five ballads including the ‘pitiful lamentacon of Rachell Merrye’,5 related to one of the cases dramatised in Robert Yarrington’s play, Two Lamentable Tragedies (1601).6

Keywords

Seventeenth Century Injure Child Early Modern Period Person Mode Henry VIII 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 5.
    Joseph H. Marshburn, Murder and Witchcraft in England, 1550–1640 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), p. 83Google Scholar
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    Natascha Würzbach, The Rise of the English Street Ballad, 1550–1650, translated by Gayna Wells (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 9 ff.Google Scholar
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    Claude M. Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and its Music (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1966), pp. 225–31Google Scholar
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    Diane Dugaw, Warrior Women and Popular Balladry 1650–1850 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1996), p. 23Google Scholar
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    Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977, 1986), p. 44.Google Scholar
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    A. L. Lloyd, Folk Song in England (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1967), pp. 220–1Google Scholar
  15. Roy Palmer, The Sound of History. Songs and Social Comment (London: Pimlico, 1996), pp. 125–7.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Sandra Clark 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Clark
    • 1
  1. 1.School of English and Humanities, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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