Kate Allan

The online diary of Kate Allan, author

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads

Love & Glory

Young Henry was as brave a youth,
As ever grac'd a marital story
And Jane was fair as lovely truth,
She sigh'd for love and he for glory,
She sigh'd &c,

With her his faith he meant to plight,
And told her many a gallant story,
Till war their honest joys to blight,
Call'd him away from love to glory,
Call'd him &c,

Brave Henry met the foe with pride,
Jane follow'd - fought - ah! hapless story,
In man's attire by Henry's side,
She died for love and he for glory,
She died &c.

Tom Dibdin
from The Royal Songster
Published by Birt, T. , London
1828 / 1829

I've just stumbled across this wonderful website - a project to make the Bodleian Library's collection of ballards available as digital images online. A feast!

When we were researching THE LADY SOLDIER we came across a number of ballads which were stories of women going to war. The idea that they went following their lovers is a popular one. We used it as the conclusion people lept as to why our lady soldier went to war.

Another example here tells the same story as above - she followed him, fought as a man and they died together). And here, as part of an even more complex story that transcends not only gender, but class when a lady falls for her serving-man.

Here, she wants to go to see where her bony light horseman has died. In the patriotic Britons Strike Home, class is also challenged, and her footman dies, but she fights on.

Not the ballads are romantic tragedies. In The Female Drummer, she finds a husband and lives happily ever after, prepared to again serve His Majesty if needed. In Nancy's Love, Nancy proposes to serve as a soldier, and her love agrees, and we end with her sailing valiantly to Holland, with her love swearing to be constant at her side.

Help! I could spend days looking at things in this resource. It's nearly as addictive as the Old Bailey Online. (100,621 trials, from April 1674 to October 1834!)


  • At 8:12 pm, Anonymous Kate Hardy said…

    Because you've just given me a couple of fascinating links (which could turn out to be major time-stealers!) here's one in return: historical directories - if you're not hooked by the time of the RNA conf (and if you're there too) then I guarantee you will be after a couple of glasses of wine and a natter with me!

  • At 10:59 pm, Blogger Lydia said…

    Have you joined the History of London mailing list? It's like crack for researcher, seriously. If you haven't, you can send me an email here, and I'll dig up the info on it:


    It's really quiet, but thee's been a lot of good stuff. I'm sending a link to a page instead of a an email address because I don't like spambots to pick up my address!

  • At 8:43 pm, Blogger Kate Allan said…

    Kate - super link! Must be a real boon to family history researchers. I love the internet! It's like having the world's biggest library at your fingertips.

  • At 8:43 pm, Blogger Kate Allan said…

    Lydia - you have mail!


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