The Mansfield Manuscript - an insight into Scottish folk song and ballads

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imageThe Mansfield Manuscript gives us an insight into Scottish folk song and ballads through the eyes of a member of the upper echelons of Edinburgh society in the late 1700’s. A lady of some distinction maintained a manuscript record of songs and poems that took her fancy, thereby making this Mansfield Manuscript one of the earliest written song and ballad sources.

The Manuscript includes traditional Scottish folk songs and ballads, together with the occasional broadside or parlour piece. Upwards of twenty traditional Child ballads are recorded here, some being versions not previously in print. Another important thread preserved for us is the script of some songs that appealed so much to Robert Burns; ones that he worked on to produce new versions that have commanded public appeal.

The Mansfield Manuscript has now been transcribed, and is presented along with Notes on the history of the Manuscript, with information on those who used it (collectors and publishers such as Robert Chambers and Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe) and those who helped identify and bring the Manuscript into the public domain. Among those were the Borders song collector Frank Miller, the ballad scholar William Montgomerie and most notably, William Macmath, the close confidant and advisor to Professor Francis James Child.

This publication has been brought together by Ronnie Clark, an enthusiast in traditional music, who has been involved in the running of clubs from Folk Song and Ballad (Glasgow, 1964-1968) through to The Glasgow Ballad Workshop (2010 to the present).
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