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Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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49
The unnatural wife
Pepys, i, 122, roman and italic type, two woodcuts, five columns. The use of "white letter" in so early a ballad is most unusual.
This ballad, printed by Margaret Trundle,—widow of the celebrated John Trundle,—supplements Coles's ballad of "A Warning for All Desperate Women" (No. 50), as each deals with the same crime. Accord­ing to an entry in Jeaffreson's Middlesex County Records (m, 107), which Professor Kittredge has brought to my attention, Alice Davies was tried for the murder of her husband, Henry Davies, at the Middlesex Sessions of July 9, 1628, and found guilty. Mrs Davies made a plea of pregnancy, but this was disallowed because a jury of matrons found her "Not Preg­nant." She was then sentenced to be burned.
The tune of Bragandary1, though used for many ballads (cf. Nos. 3, 3 5, 52, 76, 77), appears to be unknown. "The Fair Widow of Watling Street," in two long parts, was registered on August 17, 1597 (Arber's Transcript, in, 88; Roxburghe Ballads, viii, 8; Shirburn Ballads, p. 1). Its first part is to be sung to Bragandary, the second to The Wanton Wife (perhaps The Wanton Wife of Westminster, a tune named from a lost ballad of that title registered in two parts on July 3, 1597). Ebsworth argued that The Wanton Wife of Westminster and Bragandary were identical tunes: his argument {Roxburghe Ballads, vm, 14) is fallacious, and, in any case, the Wanton Wife is still an undiscovered tune. There is, also, among the Roxburghe Ballads (viii, 14; Wood E. 2 5 (17)) "A Description of Wanton Women. To the Tune of Bragandary, or, Southampton." But Southampton, too, is unknown. It is very likely, however, that somewhere the music will be found under the names already mentioned or under those of O Folly, Desperate Folly, O Roundheads, Desperate Roundheads, and the like.
1 A ballad "to the Tune of Braggendarty" was entered in the Stationers' Register on March 29, 1604 (Arber's Transcript, in, 257).
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