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Drink, song and politics in early modern England

  • Angela McShane (a1)


Between about 1580 and 1690, early modern England experienced three interrelated developments: first, the growth of a successful commercial popular music industry, centred on London, which served a socially broad national market; secondly, the development of political parties, emerging from the political and religious turmoil of the period, which impinged significantly upon the newly burgeoning popular music industry and its markets; thirdly, a substantial increase in the per capita consumption of alcoholic drinks across all social classes, for reasons of sociability rather than health or nutrition. This article explores the unexpected effects of these changes on cultures of politics, drink and song across the whole period. In particular, it explores the way in which the Cavaliers of the 1650s and the new ‘Tory’ party of the 1680s used the medium of song to encourage excessive drinking and the political and social denigration of sobriety in order to promote loyal obedience.



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All ballads are Anon. unless otherwise stated. PBB denotes an entry in McShane (2011a).
1624–80. A lamentable Ballad of a Combat lately performed neere London, betwixt Sir Iames Steward, and Sir George Wharton Knights
1627. Heres to thee Kind Harry
1646. The Mercenary Soldier (PBB 132)
1647. The good fellowes complaint (PBB 135)
1658. Sack for my money (PBB 256)
1660–74. Hey for our town, but a fig for Zommerset-shire
1660. A Jovial Company of Joviall Blades (PBB 317)
1660. A New Ballade: To an Old Tune (PBB 325)
1660. Englands Joy for the Coming in of our Gracious Sovereign King Charls the Second (PBB 285X)
1660. Englands Joy in a Lawful Triumph (PBB 309)
1660. Englands Rejoicing at that happy Day (PBB 277)
1660. The Countreymans Vive Le Roy (PBB 369)
1660. The Traytors downfall (PBB 312X)
1661. A Country Song Intituled the Restoration (PBB 391)
1663. The Loyal Subject (as it is reason) Drinks good sack and is free from Treason (PBB 400)
1670–1701. Cupids Delight; Or, The Two young Lovers broyl'd in love
1674–79. The Young Gallants Tutor
1679. A New Ballad on the Present Conspiracy of the Papists (PBB 521)
1680–96. Taylor's Lamentation
1680. The Loyal Subjects Littany (PBB 556)
1680. The Loyal Tories Delight (PBB 557)
1681. A New Ballad of Jockey's Journey (PBB 609)
1681. State Cases put to Jack Presbyter (PBB 607)
1681. The Leacherous Anabaptist (PBB 580)
1681. The Loyal London Apprentice (PBB 594)
1681. The Newgate Salutation (PBB 592)
1681. The Protestant Cuckold (PBB 579)
1681. The Saint Turn'd Curtezan (PBB 581)
1681. The Wine Cooper's Delight (PBB 568X)
1682. A Litany from Geneva (PBB 656)
1682. A Message from Tory-Land to the Whig-Makers in Albian (PBB 660)
1682. A New Ballad with the Definition of the Word Tory (PBB 654)
1682. Ignoramus Justice (PBB 652)
1682. The Bare-faced Tories (PBB 666)
1682. The Coat of Arms of N.T. J.F. & R.L. (PBB 647)
1682. The Loyal Feast (PBB 642)
1682. The Popish Tories Confession (PBB 621)
1682. Thompson Tell-Lyes (PBB 640)
1682. Tom-son his repetition to his wife (PBB 659)
1683. The Whigs drown'd in an honest Tory's Health (PBB 729)
1685. THE / Happy Return:/OR,/The PARLIAMENTS Wellcome to London (PBB 828)
1685. An Excellent new SONG; OR, A true Touch of the TIMES. Giving you a full and true Account of the Transactions, from King James the First, to the present Reign of our Soveraign Lord King James the Second.
1689. An Excellent new SONG; OR, A true Touch of the TIMES. Giving you a full and true Account of the Transactions, from King James the First, to the present Reign of our Soveraign Lord King William the Third.
1690. THE/ Royal Favours of K. WILLIAM
1690. The Royal Frolick
1690s. An Answer to the Royal Frolick
1690s. The Broken Vintner of London
1690s. The Country Lasses Good Fortune
1690s. The Royal Recreation
1694. [no title] 1st line: ‘When Brewers and Bakers’
c.1610–26. John Spenser a Cheshire Gallant
c.1630s. Fowre wittie gossips disposed to be merry
c.1640s. A Looking Glass for Drunkards
c.1661. The Joviall Crew, or, Beggars-Bush (PBB 382)
c.1672 The Jovial Crew (PBB 455)
c.1649. A Royall Health to the Rising Sun (PBB 182)
c.1656–78. Joan's Ale is New (3 Editions between 1656 and c.1678) (PBB 217)
c.1672. Englands Triumph (PBB 456)
Jordan, T. (attrib.) 1643 and 1650. The Discontented Lover (2 edns) (PBB 114)
Jordan, T. (attrib.) 1660. The Noble Prodigal (PBB 284)
Jordan, T. (attrib.) 1660. The Royal Entertainment (PBB 304)
Price, L. c.1640s. Good Ale for my money
R[obins], T. 1660. The Royall Subjects warning-piece to all Traytors (PBB 289)
Rigby, R. (attrib.) 1680. The Coblers New Prophesie (PBB 546)
Shadwell, T. (attrib.) and Anon. c.1675. The Delights of the Bottle (PBB 489)
Taubman, M. (attrib.) 1682. The Well-Wishers To The Royal Family (PBB 633)
Taubman, M. (attrib.) 1682. The Courtier's Health (PBB 619X)
Wade, J. (fl.1660–80). A Song in Praise of the Leather Bottel
White, R. 1643. The Prentices Resolution (PBB 103)
White, R., 1643. Englands doubtfull hopes (PBB 111)
Jordan, T. 1663. Musick and Poetry mixed in a variety of songs and poems
Brome, A. and Brome, H. (eds) 1662. Rump: or an Exact Collection of the choycest Poems and Songs relating to the late Times
Ravenscroft, T. 1609. Deuteromelia: or the seconde part of Musicks melodie
Thompson, N. 1684. Choice Collection of 180 Loyal Songs
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Drink, song and politics in early modern England

  • Angela McShane (a1)


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