Elderton, William (DNB00)
|←Elderfield, Christopher||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 17
ELDERTON, WILLIAM (d. 1592?), ballad-writer, was a notorious tippler and a ready writer of ballads. In an account of the expenses of the Lord of Misrule at a Twelfth-day entertainment given at court, 1552-3 (Loseley Manuscripts, p. 47), it is recorded that one of the boy-actors was named Elderton, who may have been William Elderton. The earliest(dated) ballad of Elderton is 'The Panges of Loue and louers fttes' (sic), 1559, s. sh. fol., of which a copy (formerly belonging to Heber) is now in the Britwell collection. It is signed 'Finis qd W. E.' At the foot of some ballads the name is found in full, 'Finis, W. Elderton.' Drayton, in his epistle to Henry Reynolds, writes —
I scornd your ballet then, though it were done
A lost book, entitled 'Eldertons Jestes with his mery Toyes,' was licensed for publication in 1561-2 (Arber, Transcript, i. 179). It provoked 'An Admonition to Elderton to leave the toyes by him begone,' which was followed by 'Eldertons answere for his mery
toyes.' Both the 'Admonition' and the 'Answer' have perished. Among Elderton's extant ballads are 'The true fourme and shape of a monsterous chyld which was borne at Stony Stratforde... 1565' (Huth Library and Britwell), s. sh. fol.; 'An Epytaphe upon the Death of the Right Reverent and learned Father in God, I. Iuell,' 1571, s. sh. fol. (Britwell and Roxb. Coll.); 'A ballat intituled Northomberland Newes,' &c., n. d. (licensed 1569), s. sh. fol. (Soc. of Antiq.); 'A new Yorkshyre song,' &c., 1584, s. sh. fol. (Roxb. Coll.), dated from York, describing a match at archery, in twenty-two six-line stanzas. Some verses of Elderton are printed before Hollybande's 'Arnalt and Lucenda,' 1575. Stow in his 'Survey,' 1598, p. 217 (chapter on 'Cheape Warde'), quotes some verses 'on the images over the Guildhall Gate,' composed 'about thirty yeares since by William Elderton, at that time an Atturney in the Sheriifes Courtes there.' Afterwards Elderton was master of a company of comedians, and on 10 Jan. 1573-4 he received 6l. 13s. 4d. for a play presented before the queen. From 'A true reporte of the death and martyrdome of M. Campion,' 1581, it appears that he published some 'scurile balates' on Campion*s execution. Elderton died in or before 1592. In that year Gabriel Harvey published his 'Foure Letters,' in which he describes Elderton and Robert Greene as 'two notorious mates and the very ringleaders of the riming and scribbling crew' (Harvey, Works, ed. Grosart, i. 164. He speaks in the same tract of 'Elderton's ale-crammed nose.' Nashe, in 'Foure Letters Confuted,' 1593, upbraids Harvey for 'plucking Elderton out of the ashes of his ale,' and says that there had been a 'monstrous emulation' between Elderton and Harvey. There are two jocular epitaphs on Elderton in Camden's 'Remaines,' 1605, p. 56. Some of his ballads were re-printed by Collier for the Percy Society ('Old Ballads from Early Printed Copies') in 1840; others are included in 'Ancient Ballads and Broadsides'(Philobiblon Society), 1867. The opening lines of a ballad by Elderton are quoted in 'Much Ado about Nothing,' v. 2.
[Ritson's Bibliographia Poetica; Hazlitt's Handbook; Haslitt's Collections and Notes, 1876; Collier's Hist. of Engl. Dram. Poetry (1879); iii. 210-12; Collier's Old Ballads from Early Printed Copies, 1840; Ancient Ballads and
Broadsides, 1867; Bibliotheca Heberiana, pt. iv. pp. 53-63; Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time, pp. 107, 121, 125. 186, 229.]