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[Note 090.1] The song links ballad singing to criminality. A frequent accusation of the time and not without basis in fact.

[Note 090.2] The busy railway station was a natural place for prostitutes to seek customers. This is a variant of an older song set beside the Thames (Roud 3457). It moves the action to a railway station just as prostitutes moved with their customers from river boats to railway trains.

[Note 090.3] "And for the same ballad I paid one halfpenny":- about 25p at 2016 prices
[Ref: Bank of England Inflation Calculator]

[Note 090.4] "There is a chap here in blue and he is a-watching of me":- Venereal disease was a growing public health problem during the mid-19th century. In an attempt to control the epidemic, Parliament passed the first of a series of Contagious Disease Acts in 1864 leading to rigorous policing of prostitution.

[Note 090.5] "Five shillings in lobsters and oysters I spent":- about £30 at 2016 prices
[Ref: Bank of England Inflation Calculator]

[Note 090.6] The phrase "pop goes the weasel" is usually taken to refer to "popping" or pawning clothes. Perhaps the robber is taking the coat with the intention of pawning it.  Edward Royle writes that in 1830 there were "between 500 and 600 unlicensed pawnbrokers [in London, plus] 342 legitimate traders".
[Royle, Edward. <I>Modern Britain: A Social History 1750-2011</I>, p222]

[Note 090.7] "I had no shirt on to cover my thighs":- The general opinion among fashion historians is that before 1850 men have used the long tails of their shirts in the role of underpants. This would almost certainly the case when Roud 3457, from which this song is derived - was written.


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