J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

“The New-born Year now dawns again”

It’s a Boston 1775 tradition to share a “carrier’s address” around New Year’s. That’s one term for a poem that newspaper carriers composed, printed, and distributed to encourage end-of-year tips from their customers.

I’ve featured several poems from those newspaper delivery boys, some from delivery men and women, and possibly one from a delivery girl. Some came from individual boys, such as Job Weeden, but most were collective pleas. Often those verses alluded to political issues of the day.

This year I’m making a slight deviation and instead sharing a farrier’s address. A farrier was, as you know, a person who shod horses. Two hundred fifty years ago today, at least one farrier’s apprentice in Boston was distributing a printed broadside with this message:
A
New-Year’s Wish,
From the Farrier’s Lad.

The New-born Year now dawns again,
And precious Health is still possess’d;
May Heaven’s Blessings yet descend,
And all our Troubles be redress’d.

’Tis true, the Scene is chang’d!---but yet
Our anxious Hopes are still alive:
We trust our KING will hear our Cries,
And all our Grievances relieve.

Then while with Plenty you abound
And Mercies on you daily flow,
Pray out of your abundant Store
Some trifle on your Lad bestow.

Boston, January 1769.
Whatever print shop produced this broadside for the farrier’s lads also switched out some type and printed “A New-Year’s Wish, From the Baker’s Lad.” And perhaps others that haven’t survived. Which shows how by 1769 the practice of seeking gratuities at the end of the year was pretty widespread across the juvenile workforce.

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