A Ballad Of The Guild Of 1802.
(From Dobson and Harland’s History of Preston Guild.)
The following ballad, written for the Guild of 1802, although partaking of the doggerel, may not be without interest, as a picture of local manners and feelings “sixty years since.” The song was taken down, the other day, from the lips of a Lancashire hand-loom weaver of “nankeen,” seventy-six years of age. He recited it at his loom from memory, and stated that his father visited Preston Guild, in 1802, whence he took home with him this newly-composed ballad. It is printed pretty nearly as he recited it, except that he gave it in the Lancashire dialect, which rendered it all the more racy, and no doubt a more close resemblance to the way in which it would be sung in the streets of Preston sixty years ago. At succeeding Guilds, a somewhat similar song, with alterations for the worse, has been “cried” by “flying stationers.”
Title:A Ballad Of The Guild Of 1802
Publication:The Blackburn Standard
Date:Wednesday, September 03, 1862
Although published in the town of Blackburn, this poem celebrates the ancient tradition of the Preston Guild, a week-long market event held every twenty years in that town. Purporting to be transcribed from a handloom weaver, a man who would have been fourteen when the event in question took place, the piece gives us a fascinating window on civic history, and folk lyric tradition. Not long after this poem was published, fully half of the population of the town of Preston was seeking relief through unemployment due to the Cotton Famine, so this reminder of a time of commercial bustle and agricultural plenty would have been especially poignant. – SR