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Broadside ballad entitled 'Forfar Fair'

Introduction:
Verse 1: 'When I was a 'prentice in Forfar, / I was a braw lad an' a stout; / My master was old Tailor Orquher, / That lived at the fit o' the Spout. / His wife's name was gleyed Gizzie Miller; / And O! she was haughty and vain, / For the bodies had plenty o' siller; / Forbye a bit house o' their ain.' This ballad was published at the Poet's Box, Overgate, Dundee by William Shepherd.
Image Rights Holder:
National Library of Scotland
Ref:
15023
Project:
749:Popular Print in Scotland, 1650-1850
Material:
Broadside
Dimensions:
172 x 228mm
Subject:
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
Who:
William Shepherd (printer)
Poet's Box (publisher)
Tam (subject)
Maggy Jack (subject)
Allan Ramsay (associated poet)
Robert Burns (associated poet)
Peebles to the play (associated poem)
Christ's Kirk on the Green (associated poem)
James V, King of Scots (associated)
National Library of Scotland (keeper of collection)
When:
Where:
The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
Background:
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
Description:
'Forfar Fair' is narrated by Tam, an apprentice tailor, who goes to the fair and gets drunk and amorous with a local girl, Maggy Jack. The ballad ends with Tam in a dilemma: Tam has fallen in love with Maggy, while the master tailor expects Tam to marry his daughter. The community fair, usually climaxing in drunkenness, violence or both, is a conventional setting in Scottish ballad poetry. It was used by the likes of Allan Ramsay and Robert Burns and originated with the great Scots poems 'Peblis (Peebles) to the Play' (anon. c.1430-1450) and 'Christ's Kirk on the Green', which has been attributed to James V of Scotland (b. 1512-1542).