John Freeth (1731–1808) was a landlord of a Birmingham tavern and coffee-house, who hosted various meetings of the radical thinkers of Birmingham from the 1770s. He was also a writer of ballads from around 1760: his first praised the release of radical MP John Wilkes in 1763. He published a number of song collections, but his most recurrent was The Political Songster which first appeared in 1766, after which it went through many different editions with additional material until 1798. Although a large amount of his output was political, a portion of it included light-hearted commentaries on beer, Birmingham, fashion and sports. While often fiercely patriotic when it came to war, his poems on the American war are rueful reflections on the dominant concerns and images of the relationship between America and Britain.
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Stephen H. Gregg
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