I've just sent an email to Austin Sherlaw-Johnson (thanks again Malcolm) and asked him about the item in his catalogue. In no time I found the following reply in my in box:
[quote] Since the inscription in dated (18)88 I assume that it will have little to do with a broadside ballad, they were a lot earlier weren't they? [...] She (Ms. McConnell) may have used the same words, perhaps?
Marie MacConnell isn't in any of the standard dictionaries of women composers. The only other titbit I can recall is that the song came bound in a large collection of [...] music-hall songs, R. Weighell was something in provincial music-hall.[end quote]
Perhaps this is something for the experts to build on? By the way: in case someone is interested, the item is sold!
Mariner: I will follow your lead and keep you informed.