A generic fictional composer of terrible poetry and bad popular songs; a balladmonger.
Mentioned in several plays, the term was used in the 1500s-1600s.
Of Songs and Ballads also he is a maker,
And that can he as finely do as Jack Raker.
Yea, and extempore will he ditties compose;
Foolish Marsias ne’er made the like, I suppose;
Yet must we sing them, as good stuff, I undertake.
As for such a pen-man is well fitting to make.
-from Ralph Royster Doyster, Act II. scene 1, a comedy by Nicholas Udall, circa 1522.
The term was also used by English poet John Skelton (c. 1463–1529) in his "Speak, Parrot," and "Why come ye not to Court."