A PEPYSIAN GARLAND - online book

Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
News from Hollands Leaguer
Pepys, i, 98, B.L., two woodcuts, five columns.
Holland's Leaguer was a notorious brothel kspt by a Mrs Holland1 on the Bankside, Southwark. It is described in a quarto pamphlet called Hollands Leagver: OR, An Historical Discourse Of The Life and Actions of Dona Brit-tanica Hollandia the Arch-Mistris of the wicked women of Evtopia, 1632 (Bodleian, Malone 227). Of this establishment J. W. Ebsworth {Bagford Ballads, 1, 507*) remarks:
In general, the houses of ill-fame, attacked by the apprentices on Shrove-Tuesdays, were scarcely different from ordinary dwellings, and perhaps private spite often dictated the selection more than just cause of offence. But Holland's Leaguer was exceptional, and claimed to be an island out of the ordinary juris­diction. The portcullis, drawbridge, moat, and wicket for espial, as well as an armed bully or Pandar to quell disagreeable intruders, if by chance they got admittance without responsible introduction, all point to an organized system. There were also the garden-walks, for sauntering and "doing a spell of embroid­ery, or fine work," i.e. flirtation; the summer-house that was proverbially famous or infamous for intrigues, and the river conveniently near for disposal of awkward visitors who might have met with misadventure.
Ebsworth {ibid. p. 508*) has reproduced from the 1632 pamphlet the famous woodcut of the brothel.
The pamphlet was licensed for publication on January 20, 1632; six days later Shackerley Marmion's comedy of Holland's Leaguer was licensed. Laurence Price's ballad followed on May 24 (Arber's Transcript, iv, 278), and deals with the same subject: it is simply a poetical paraphrase of the tract of January 20, although Ebsworth states positively (Roxburghe Ballads, vm, 564) that it "is historical, on the Dutch alliance, and has nothing to do with the moated grange bearing the same name, on the Bankside in London."
For the tune see the introduction to No. 33.
1 She was twice summoned before the Court of High Commission in 1631 (on January 26 and February 9), but failed to appear. She is called "Elizabeth Holland a woman of ill reporte," and mention is made of a husband. See S. R. Gardiner's Reports of Cases in the Courts of Star Chamber and High Commission (Camden Society), pp. 263, 268.
Previous Contents Next