When This Old Hat Was New (IV)
DESCRIPTION: "This old hat was new once" "The rich then gave out food and coals to keep the poor ... the poor did never want." "Our tars were never press'd For they did boldly volunteer." "Husbandmen ... did work both soon and late But now ... are forced to emigrate."
EARLIEST DATE: 2006 (Bodleian broadside indexed)
KEYWORDS: poverty emigration commerce hardtimes nonballad pressgang
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
Bodleian, Harding B 11(4138), "When This Old Hat Was New" ("This old hat was new once, but I cannot tell you when"), unknown, no date
NOTES [109 words]: I have to think this particular "Old Hat" the work of a propagandistic poet. There was *never* a time when tars "were never pressed"; conditions in the Royal Navy were consistently worse than those in the merchant service. It is true that sailors were unusually likely to desert in the period between the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars (which seems the most likely date for the song). This is because inflation was eating away at the always-inadequate pay of the sailors, and dishonest contractors were feeding them garbage. These conditions improved, at least somewhat, after the Spithead and Nore mutinies, for which see "Poor Parker." - RBW
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