LOVE, David (1750 - 1827) [of Nottingham]

Photo:A street ballad-seller

A street ballad-seller

Photo:Quick march of the South Fencibles

Quick march of the South Fencibles

In which Old David had served as a young man

18th century balladeer and 'street poet'

In the book, Notes About Notts (1874), Cornelius Brown gives a short account of this fascinating Nottinghamshire character:-

This remarkable individual was born at Torriburn, on the Forth, in Scotland, on the 17th November, 1750, and died at Nottingham on the 12th June, 1827.

He was (says a correspondent) brought up as a miner, in the Dundonald Collieries, Curloss, but enlisted in the Duke of Buccleuch's regiment of South Fencibles.

Possessing, however, a facility for extemporising rhymes, he abandoned sterner occupation, and gained his living through a long course of years, principally in Nottingham, by seizing upon the local topic of the hour, and making it the subject of a ballad or string of rhymes, and, as he was accustomed to inform his street auditories, when he had a number of printed copies for disposal, "of his own composing."

These compositions were very numerous, and, in spite of their lack of talent, enjoyed at times great popularity.  The following verse may be taken as a specimen : —

" When first to Nottingham I came,
I fancied it was a town of fame ;
This place I loved exceeding well,
As here I many books did sell."

'Old David', as he was familiarly called, published his own
"Life, Adventures, and Experience," and, hawking the book
himself as a means of living, it went through five large

In a Nottingham paper an elegy was published
shortly after his decease. This is the first verse : —

The sexton tolls the knell of David Love,
The funeral train winds slowly throngh the street ;

Old General, wand in hand, with crape above,
Conducts the pageant, with demeanour meet

To the elegy is appended an Epitaph:-

Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,

A minstrel old, in Nottingham well known —
In Caledonia was his humble birth,

Old England makes his aged bones her own.

Numerous his verses were, his life was long.

Wide as a recompense his fame was spread ;
He sold for halfpence (all he had) a song,

And by them eam'd ('twas all he wish'd) his bread.

If further you his merits would disclose,

Or draw his frailties from this cold abode,
Go, buy his Ufe (wrote by himself), which shows.

His service to his country and his God.

The signature to the whole is " G."

EDITOR'S NOTE: A copy of the 5th edition of David Love's 'Life, Adventures and Experiences', published in 1825, is available through the Nottinghamshire Library Service.  Click HERE to check the library catalogue for details.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An oil painting of David Love (by Thomas Barber) is held by Nottingham City Museums.  Click HERE to view painting.

This page was added by Martin Ballance on 02/10/2013.
Comments about this page

See also The Nottinghamshire Historian, Spring/Summer 1988 (No 40) for an article entitled: David Love: Traveller, Poet and Nottingham Eccentric

By Peter Hammond
On 24/01/2014

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