50  A New Song of Lulla By,/ OR, Father Peter's Policy Discovered [Bodleian Wood E25 (110)]

Author: Anonymous

Recording: A New Song of Lulla By

Emotions - scorn Emotions - suspicion Employment - female Employment - professions Family - pregnancy/childbirth Humour - deceit/disguise Humour - domestic/familial Humour - extreme situations/surprises Humour - satire Humour - verbal Places - European Politics - Glorious Revolution Politics - controversy Politics - court Politics - domestic Politics - plots Politics - satire Religion - Catholic/Protestant Religion - clergy Royalty - criticism

Song History

A New Song of Lulla By, / OR, Father Peter's Policy Discovered was published in white-letter and black-letter editions between December 1688 and April 1689.

Historical Context.

The first edition of this ballad was published in December 1688 as the 'Glorious Revolution' unfolded. The build-up to the Revolution began in earnest after 30 June 1688, when a group of seven noblemen, later known by supporters of the Revolution as the ‘immortal seven’, wrote to William, Prince of Orange, and Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, begging for his help. The letter described widespread discontent across the country:

We have great reason to believe that we shall be every day in a worse condition than we are and less able to defend ourselves, and therefore we do earnestly wish we might be so happy as to find a remedy before it be too late for us to contribute to our own deliverance; … the best advice we can give is to inform your Highness truly both of the state of things here at this time and of the difficulties which appear to us. As to the first, the people are so generally dissatisfied with the present conduct of the Government in relation to their religion, liberties, and properties (all which have been greatly invaded), and they are in such expectation of their prospects being daily worse that your Highness may be assured there are nineteen parts of twenty of the people throughout the Kingdom who are desirous of a change

The reasons behind the discontent described in the letter were clear. First, James II (thought to be in thrall to his Jesuit confessor, Father Petre), had issued a Declaration of Indulgence that gave religious freedom to Roman Cathollcs and Nonconformists, effectively overturning the Test Acts that most people believed protected the supremacy of the Church of England. When seven Bishops refused to have the declaration read in their diocesan churches, they were summarily imprisoned and tried for treason.

Secondly, James had steadily been replacing holders of key government posts with Roman Catholics. He also recruited Catholics as officers and imported many Irish Catholics into the infantry of what looked increasingly like a standing army.

Thirdly, before calling long-delayed elections, government agents were sent to threaten and cajole key voters in the counties in a bid to ensure a new parliament would be entirely loyal to the king and his policies.

The final straw came in June 1688. Until that point, James II’s heir was Princess Mary Stuart, the eldest child of his first wife Ann Hyde, and wife of Prince William of Orange. The certainty of a Protestant succession changed, however, on 10 June 1688, as James II’s young Queen, Mary of Modena, gave birth to a healthy son. The political nation now faced the likelihood of a long succession of Catholic kings who, they feared, would use their political and military powers to undermine the Church of England and return Britain’s three kingdoms to the church of Rome. 

On receipt of the 'immortal seven's' letter, William prepared to invade, but it was 5 November before he and his Dutch army landed in England. Meanwhile, Whigs and many Tories combined to launch a press campaign against James II and his ministers on the streets and in the army. Given the extreme nature of James II's censorship regime (see The Ballad Business essay), the stakes were high for those who risked producing, selling, or performing sediitous songs while the outcome of the Revolution was unclear. Nevertheless, as A New Song of Lulla By and its white-letter counterpart Father Peter's Policy Discovered both show, people were more than prepared to take those risks.


A New Song of Lulla By launched an attack on James II, his Queen, his confessor, Father Edward Petre, and his Chancellor Judge Jeffreys with a combination of popular anti-Catholic tropes and widespread defamatory rumours. The main purpose of the song was to dismiss the birth of the royal couple's son, James, Prince of Wales (known after the Revolution as the 'Old Pretender'), as a hoax organised by Rome and implemented by Father Petre. The implication that the Queen had not 'come honestly' by her baby was accentuated in the choice of the alternative tune-title, 'My Mistriss is to Bulling gone': 'bulling' meant 'putting the cow to the bull' (though see Featured tune history for other meanings).

The ballad begins by recounting a conversation between a furious Pope and his nuns and friars, who explain that the 'hereticks' have discovered the baby was smuggled in through a hole in the wall. They blame the midwife or nurse for telling tales. The ballad then switches to defame the witnesses who claimed the birth was real, including 'the Goggle-ey'd Monster in the Tower' (a reference to Judge Jeffreys, who had been captured while attempting to flee). Finally, the ballad refers to widespread rumours circulating about the unexpected birth, for example, that the baby was the son of a Welsh tiler (''Twas born with the Print of a Tile on his side'), and that it had been brought to the Queen's chamber by Petre, 'With holy water, and sweet perfume;/ And a holy Smock that was sent from Rome,'

Four verses of the fifteen-verse black-letter ballad, and its tune names, came from an earlier white-letter edition, entitled Father Peter's Policy Discovered; Or, the / P---- of Wales Prov'd a P---- Perkin. Though far shorter in length (ten verses) the white-letter version was more explicitly scandalous. So much so that the first editions, published in 1688, used blanks to avert prosecution for libel. The 'Perkin' reference in the title was historical in two senses: on one hand, a reminder of Perkin Warbeck, who had masqueraded as one of the princes in the Tower after Henry VII took power and, on the other hand, it was reminsicent of accusations made against the Protestant duke of Monmouth, who was executed after leading a failed rebellion against his uncle's succession in 1685.

Publication History and Popularity

A remarkable six editions of this song (two in black-letter and four in white-letter) appeared between December 1688 and April 1689. The songs spoke directly to widespread popular protest: attacks on Catholic chapels in London; the crowd mobbing of Jeffreys after he was captured while attempting to escape; and the joyous celebration of the release of the seven Bishops. Once in power, however, William and Mary's new government was just as keen to keep the lid on public protest as James II's had been.   Censorship regulations to curb such scandalous and divisive songs were soon re-imposed. Nevertheless, a black-letter ballad entitled THE / Frightned People of Clarkenwel, / Being an Account how a COW Ran into the Church at Clarkenwel in Sermon time, on Sun- / day the 18th of this Instant August, 1689, which was set 'To the Tune of, In Rome there is a most fearful Rout', suggests that memories of A New Song of Lulla By were still very much alive in the summer of 1689.

Angela McShane


Tim Harris, Revolution. The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy, 1685-1725 (London, 2006)

Paul. D. Halliday, "Jeffreys, George, first Baron Jeffreys (1645–1689), judge." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Edward Gregg, "James Francis Edward [James Francis Edward Stuart; styled James; known as Chevalier de St George, the Pretender, the Old Pretender] (1688–1766), Jacobite claimant to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Back to contents

Featured Tune History

To the tune of ‘Green Sleeves’ (standard name: Greensleeves)

The purpose of this section is to provide brief notes on the melody followed by detailed evidence relating to  its career, paying particular attention to the ‘echoes’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was nominated for the singing of more than one ballad. In the list presented in the ‘Songs and Summaries’ section below, we have endeavoured to include as many of the black-letter ballads that used the tune as possible, under any of its variant names. Titles from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type (these are also in colour when there is a link to the relevant ballad page on the website). It should be noted that it is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).  In most cases, we list the earliest surviving edition of a ballad, though in many instances there may have been earlier versions, now lost

Versions and variations

Perhaps no ballad tune was written down as frequently as this one. It was known variously as ‘Green sleeves’, ‘Which nobody can deny’, ‘The [bonny] blacksmith’, ‘Is not old England grown new’, ‘Lullaby-baby’ and ‘In Rome there is a most fearful rout’ (the last two titles were derived from the ballad under discussion here).

Versions from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries normally used the title ‘Green sleeves’ and presented the two-part melody of sixteen bars with which we are still familiar. In the later seventeenth century, the other titles were often preferred and shorter forms of the tune became common. These normally included only the first half of the original tune, though in some cases the reduction in length was achieved instead by dropping the normal repetitions (with alterations at the cadences) of the melody’s first and second parts. The version used on our recording adopts this alternative strategy and can be found in John Gamble’s commonplace book (1659).

There are many other versions of the tune, arranged variously for voice, lute, virginals, cittern and viol, and the following examples are merely a selection (there are fuller accounts in the works by Simpson and Ward, listed below): William Ballet’s lute book (c. 1590); Robert Creighton, virginal book (probably compiled in the 1630s);  A Booke of New Lessons for the Cithern & Gittern (1652); Playford’s Dancing Master (editions from 1686 onwards); and The Second Book of the Pleasant Musical Companion (1686). Versions of the melody can also be found in numerous eighteenth-century political song-books and ballad-operas.

There is significant variation between different renditions of the tune, probably because ‘Green sleeves’ was, in Ward’s words, ‘not one tune but a type of tune that took a more or less different form each time it was written down’. Trained musicians improvised descants over an unchanging bass line and a short series of chords. Ballad-singers, however, often performed without harmonic accompaniment, and among them it is likely that ‘Green sleeves’ was perceived as a melody rather than a basis for improvisation to the accompaniment of instruments. This did not mean, however, that it took a single form. All early-modern melodies were variable, though some were more variable than others.

Echoes (an overview)

This famous tune appears to have begun life in association with ‘A new Courtly Sonet, of the Lady Green sleeves’, a romantic song of c. 1580 (no broadside copy has survived but the piece appears in A Handefull of Pleasant Delites, 1584). Other romantic songs followed swiftly but none of them is extant.

The melody was also appropriated by godly song-writers, and a ballad entitled ‘Green Sleeves moralized to the Scripture’ was registered with the Stationers in 1580. Although puritan efforts to exploit balladry in the work of converting the nation may have waned soon after this date, it is clear that these efforts had been at least partially successful in turning Greensleeves into a melody that carried a certain moral and religious freight. Most of the earliest surviving black-letter ballads that named the tune were sombre and serious. A warning to all false Traitors described approvingly the executions of numerous Elizabethan Catholics, while A most excellent Godly new Ballad argued that sin was rife and urged immediate repentance. The associations suggested by such songs persisted throughout the seventeenth century, and in the 1670s and 1680s the tune was still being chosen for songs that lamented immorality (A Description of Old England) or attacked Catholics (A View of the POPISH-PLOT).

Long before this time, however, it was also used for a range of songs that were lighter and brighter in tone (some of them may have been sung to the first half of the tune alone). Examples included: A merry new Ballad, both pleasant and sweete, In praise of the Black-smith (the refrain of which gave rise to two new titles for the tune); the bawdy New SONG, of a TAYLOR and his MAID; and THE Frightned People of Clarkenwel, Being an Account of how a COW Ran into the Church.

The impressive success of A New Song of Lulla By, OR, Father Peters’s Policy Discovered can perhaps be related to the manner in which it drew on both sets of associations, drawing together the serious and the jocular. As a mock-lullaby, it was clearly designed to make people laugh, and yet the underlying message about the threat posed by Catholicism was not to be taken lightly. Other songs had drawn on the tune’s dual associations - Much A-do about Nothing, for example – but none matched the popularity of the laughing lullaby.

There are also some direct intertextual connections between the songs, but for some reason these seem to be rather less extensive than is the case with many of our hit ballads. The most obvious example is the refrain ‘Which nobody can deny’ that appears first in A merry new Ballad, both pleasant and sweete, In praise of the Black-smith, and thereafter in numerous songs (see, for example, Much A-do about Nothing and A View of the POPISH-PLOT). 

THE Frightned People of Clarkenwel drops this refrain, but draws directly on the words of the A New Song of Lulla By. This slightly earlier song had opened, ‘In Rome there is a most fearful Rout,/ And what do you think it is about?/ Because the Birth of the Babe’s come out,/ Sing Lulla by Babee, By, by, by’. In THE Frightned People this became, ‘In Clerkenwell-Church there was a Rout,/ Last Sunday the People like Bedlams run out,/ And what shou’d this fearful stir be about,/ But Nannicock my poor Cow...’  Part of the humour must have resided in the comparison that was hereby drawn between two equally ridiculous occurrences: the alleged counterfeiting of a royal birth and the intrusion of a cow into a church service.

[See 'Postscript', below, for additional notes on the melody].

Songs and Summaries

A pretty Ballad of the Lord of Lorn, and the false Steward (registered 1580; J. Clarke, W. Thackeray and T. Passinger, 1684-86). Pepys 1.494-95; EBBA 20233. Family – children/parents; Crime – robbery/theft; Death – execution, result of immorality; Gender – marriage, masculinity, femininity, courtship; Morality – familial; Environment – landscape, animals; Places – Scottish, European, travel/transport; Emotions – sorrow, anger, love, joy; Employment – agrarian, apprenticeship/service; Recreation – hunting, hospitality, food, music, weddings; Bodies – looks/physique, clothing; Religion – divine intervention; Violence – punitive, animals. An aristocratic boy is sent to France with a guardian, but the guardian turns out to be thoroughly evil and the boy has to endure horrible suffering until a lovely lady intervenes to turn things around.

A warning to all false Traitors by example of 14... To the tune of Greensleeves (Edward Allde, 1584-1627). Crawford 1434; EBBA 34359. Crime - treason, punishment; Death – execution; Religion – Catholic/Protestant; Politics – domestic, plots, treason; News – political, domestic; Places – English; Royalty – praise; Violence – punitive. This presents a musical catalogue of all the ‘Romish’ traitors who have recently been executed because they ‘troubled the peace of England’.

A most excellent Godly new Ballad: [shew]ing the manifold abuses of this wicked world... To the tune of Greene-sleeves (R. B., 1595-1626). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 1.4; EBBA 36012. Morality – social/economic, familial, general; Religion – church, Christ/God, moral rules, sin/repentance, charity; Bodies – clothing; Death –godly end; Emotions – anxiety; Family – children parents; Gender – marriage, sex; Society – rich/poor; Recreation – games/sports; Death – execution. The narrator urges everyone to repent their many sins (pride, wantonness, flattery, and so on) and pray to God for mercy.

A merry new Ballad, both pleasant and sweete, In praise of the Black-smith, which is very meete. To the tune of Greene sleeves, &c. (no imprint, 1620-50?). Roxburghe 1.250-51; EBBA 30173. Employment – crafts/trades, professions, soldiers/sailors; History – ancient/mythological, medieval; Gender – femininity, masculinity, sex; Recreation - Crime – punishment. This sings the praises of blacksmiths past and present, drawing attention to the many proverbs that refer positively to their work.

Much A-do about Nothing... To the Tune of, Which no body can deny (T. Vere, 1660). Bodleian Wood 401(169). History – recent; Politics – domestic, Royalist; History – ancient/mythological; Violence – civil war; Humour –verbal; Religion – puritanism, Protestant nonconformity, clergy; Bodies – clothing; Gender – courtship, sex. A meditation on nothing that includes a distinctly Royalist take on the turbulent decades just past, during which the radical plans of Cromwell and others came to nothing.

The Praise of Brewers: OR, The Brewers Bravery. To the Tune of, No body can deny (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Bodleian 4o Rawl. 566(187). Employment – crafts/trades, sailors/soldiers, professions; Recreation – alcohol; Gender – masculinity, courtship; History – recent; Politics – domestic, Royalist; Violence – civil war; Places – Scottish, nationalities; Religion – angels/devils. A response to the song about blacksmiths, arguing that brewers are more important and influential, particularly as a result of their role in stimulating armies to fight (evidence from the civil war period is given).

A Description of Old England, Or, A true Declaration of the times... To a pleasant new tune, Or, is not old England grown new (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Crawford 1244; EBBA 34108. Morality – social/economic, general; Economy – trade, money, hardship/prosperity; Society – criticism, rich/poor, urban live, rural life; Recreation – fashion, alcohol; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Bodies – clothing, adornment; Emotions – sorrow; Gender – masculinity. England, once ‘a stately brave place’ in which rich and poor all did well, is now a hotbed of immorality, vanity and corruption, much to the author’s regret.

The Citty Prophisier. Or, the country Fortuneteller.. Tune of, Oh is not Old England, grown New (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Bodleian 4o Rawl. 566(101). Morality – social/economic, general; Economy – hardship/prosperity, prices/wages, taxation, trade; Bodies – clothing, adornment; Society – criticism, neighbours, rich and poor, rural life, urban life; Recreation – alcohol, fashions; Religion – Protestant nonconformity. The singer predicts that good times will return when a number of (unlikely) changes come about: lower taxes, charitable rich men, the reform of misers, lawyers, drunkards, and so on.

A New SONG, of a TAYLOR and his MAID... To the Tune of The Black-Smiths Song, Or oh brave Popery (A. Milbourn, 1682-1708). Pepys 3.40; EBBA 21036. Employment – crafts/trades, female; Gender – adultery/cuckoldry, marriage, sex, masculinity, femininity; Humour – bawdry, domestic/familial; Morality –romantic/sexual; Emotions – anger; Bodies – clothing, health/sickness; News – general. The wife of a tailor finds him having sex with the maid; she dismisses the girl and rebukes her husband, but he refuses to terminate his affair with the ‘Impudent Jade’.

A New Song of Lulla By, OR, Father Peters’s Policy Discovered… To the Tune of Green Sleeves. Or, My Mistriss is to Bulling gone (no publisher named, 1688). Wood E25 (110). Politics – controversy, domestic, plots, court; Royalty – criticism; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, clergy; Humour – deceit/disguise, domestic/familial, extreme situations/surprises, verbal; Emotions – scorn, suspicion;  Employment – female/male, professions; Places – European. A mocking lullaby, imagining the responses of Catholics to the exposure of their alleged plot to pass off an infant impostor as the newly-born heir to the English throne.

THE French CRYER Newly arriv’d in ENGLAND. To the Tune of Lullaby-Baby (J. Millet, 1688-92).  Pepys 4.321; EBBA 21984. Humour – extreme situations, satire; Employment – urban; Society – criticism, urban life; News - general.  People with a variety of problems or news to tell are invited to inform the town crier.

THE Frightned People of Clarkenwel, Being an Account of how a COW Ran into the Church... To the Tune of, In Rome there is a most fearful Rout (J. Millet, 1689). Pepys 4.343; EBBA 22006. Environment – animals; Religion – church, angels/devils, clergy; News – sensational, domestic; Places – English; Emotion – fear, excitement; Humour – extreme situations, mockery; Politics – foreign affairs. A cow walks into the church at Clerkenwell, causing a level of alarm that seems to the beast’s owner unwarranted.

A View of the POPISH-PLOT; OR, A Touch of the Cunning Contrivance of the Romish Faction... To the Tune of, The bonny Blacksmith (no named publishers, 1689). Pepys 2.281; EBBA 20895. Politics – domestic, treason, court, plots; Religion – Catholic/Protestant; History – recent; Crime – treason, murder, punishment; Death – execution; Violence – punitive. This narrates the plotting and scheming of English Catholics from the ‘Popish Plot’ of 1678 to to the welcome arrival of King William (who has ‘quite spoyl’d the Jest’).


It is perhaps surprising that there are not more ballads on the list above, given that Simpson identified Greensleeves as one of the most popular of all early-modern ballad tunes. In fact, it was used more prominently on white-letter ballads, which were typically somewhat more sophisticated, than it was on the black-letter songs with which we are primarily concerned.

Numerous white-letter ballads with political themes named the tune, and some of these connected strongly with one or more of the songs listed above. The JESUITS Character, a ballad of 1679, was one of many songs that adopted ‘Which no body can deny’ as its refrain (EBBA 35551).  A DISPLAY Of the Headpiece and Codpiece VALOUR Of the most renowned Colonel Robert Jermy (1660) inverted the praise-theme of the song about blacksmiths in order scorn and humiliate the named individual. Just in case we might miss the point, it is set ‘to the Tune of a Turd, or the Black-Smith’ (EBBA 34400).

And EPITHALAMIUM OR, A Wedding Song (EBBA 22396), published in 1689, described ‘The Supposed Marriage, of the Supposed Prince of Wales, to the Supposed Grand-Chil[d of] the French King’, thus continuing the tale of the baby discussed in A New Song of Lulla By (the connection was strengthened by naming the tune ‘Lulla by baby’). The melody, usually under its short-form titles, was also nominated very regularly in political song-books and in ballad-operas of the eighteenth century.

This tune was also referred to regularly in other forms of literature. In Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, for example, Mistress Ford declares that Falstaff’s disposition and words ‘do no more adhere and keep place together than the hundred psalms to the tune of GreenSleeves’. It is difficult to sing most of the metrical psalms to the melody because their second lines typically require three stressed beats rather than four, but the remark might also reflect a feeling that a secular tune should not be used for the singing of sacred material. Others, too, referred to the singing of metrically inappropriate ballads to the tune of Greensleeves in order to indicate the incompetence or drunkenness of the performer (see, for example, John Taylor, Ale Ale-vated into the Ale-titude, 1651). And the melody was also adopted for the singing of Christmas carols. In Good and true, fresh and true (1642), Greensleeves is the melody for ‘A Caroll of New-yeares day’.

Of course, Greensleeves is one of very few early-modern ballad tunes that remains well-known today. It appears to have been in continuous use since c. 1580, and the modern attentions of composers such as Ralph Vaughan-Williams boosted, rather than resurrected, the melody.

'My Mistriss is to Bulling gone', the tune named as an alternative for A New Song of Lulla By, has not been identified. 'Bulling' was a farming term, meaning 'putting the bull to the cow', though it could also mean 'making a fool of', or 'boasting' or 'bull-baiting' (a common early-modern recreation). The term and perhaps the tune thus had associations that might have proved amusing in relation to this particular ballad (see also Song history).

Christopher Marsh


William Ballet’s lute book (c. 1590), Trinity College Dublin, MS 408, p. 104.

Jeremy Barlow (ed.), The Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford’s Dancing Master (1985), no. 244.

A Booke of New Lessons for the Cithern & Gittern (1652), p. 31.

Robert Creighton, virginal book (1630s), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS Conservatoire Rés. 1186, fo. 101.

John Gamble, Commonplace book (1659), New York Public Library, Drexel 4257, no. 121.

Good and True, Fresh and New (1642), A8r-B1r.

Oxford English Dictionary ('bulling').

The Second Book of the Pleasant Musical Companion (1686), pt. 3, no. 23.

William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor (Arden Shakespeare, 2000), p.167.

John Taylor, Ale Ale-vated into the Ale-titude (1651), p. 17

John M. Ward, ‘Apropos The British broadside ballad and its music’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 20.1 (Spring 1967), pp. 44-46.

Back to contents

Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Quacksalver or mountebank

The purpose of this section is to provide evidence relating to  the career of the image under discussion, paying particular attention to the ‘reflections’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was chosen to illustrate more than one ballad. The list given below includes all ballads from the Pepys and Roxburghe collections that feature this woodcut or a close variant (these are the two largest collections, including approximately 3300 sheets, in total). References to ballads from other collections occur only when the featured edition of the song under consideration here (or the featured edition of another song from our list) comes from such a source. Ballads from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type, and they also appear in colour where there is a link to another song in the database. Please note, however, that the editions of hit songs listed below are not necessarily those for which digital images are presented on this website. Cross-references to other examples of our featured woodcuts are also presented in bold. It is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).

Reflections (an overview)

This woodcut is only rarely encountered, usually in association with political ballads. It is actually a representation of a quacksalver or mountebank (a travelling seller of medical cures and potions). Quacksalvers had a reputation for trickery and deceit, and the woodcut, in its appearance on A New Song of Lulla By, brings additional humour to the ballad's satirical condemnation of those who allegedly tried to fake a royal birth to the Catholic James II and his wife.

The only other ballad listed below is another hit song, The Whig Rampant. Here, too, the woodcut alerts viewers to the fraudulence that is the song's subject. The pictures that appear on the two ballads seem to have been produced from the same woodblock. It was already showing signs of wear and tear by the early 1680s, but its career in the previous decades has not, so far, been traced.

[See 'Postscript', below, for additional notes on the woodcut].

Songs and summaries

The Whig Rampant: OR, EXALTATION. Being a Pleasant New Song of 82 (P. Brooksby,  1682).  Roxburghe 2.517; EBBA 31018.  Politics – celebration, controversy, domestic, plots, Royalist, Tories/Whigs, satire; Religion – Catholic/ProtestantRecreation – good fellowship; Humour – satire; Death – execution; Emotions – joy; History – recent.  A satirical song in which a group of Whigs remember the Civil Wars and plan fresh outrages against all good order while anticipating their own executions (picture placement: the scene appears beneath the title, and the speech banners bear the lines, ‘My book you see, Remember me’ and ‘Then the Old cause We will set free’).

A New Song of Lulla By, OR, Father Peters’s Policy Discovered (no publisher named, 1688). Wood E25 (110). Politics – controversy, domestic, plots, court; Royalty – criticism; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, clergy; Humour – deceit/disguise, domestic/familial, extreme situations/surprises, verbal; Emotions – scorn, suspicion;  Employment – female/male, professions; Places – European. A mocking lullaby, imagining the responses of Catholics to the exposure of their alleged plot to pass off an infant impostor as the newly-born heir to the English throne (picture placement: the scene appears beneath the title, and there are no other woodcuts).


The woodcut does not appear to have been connected with quacksalvers and mountebanks before now but it clearly fits within the relevant European iconography. Various elements of this iconography, as discussed by Katritzky, are represented in the ballad picture: the beakers full of potions, the trunk for transporting wares, the makeshift stage, the written testimonial, the theatricality, the fine clothes and the credulous crowd.


M. A. Katritzky, 'Marketing medicine: the image of the early-modern mountebank', Renaissance studies 15.2 (June 2001), pp. 121-53.

Christopher Marsh

Back to contents

Related Texts

Many pamphlets, squibs, and ballads came out disputing the legitimacy of the prince's birth. These included: THE Rare Vertue of an Orange; OR, Popery purged and expelled out of the NationJeremiah Prat’s letter to his Brother, and his Brother’s Answer (1688), PBB No: 910; and THE Last Will and Testament OF Father Petre’s (1688) PBB No: 917. See also The Whole examination of the birth of the pretended Prince of Wales and the true mother of that notorious counterfeit and impostor fully discovered and proved, before the Lords and Commons of England, for the publick satisfaction of the whole kingdom (1689).

Angela McShane

PBB =  Angela McShane, Political Broadside Ballads of Seventeenth-Century England: A Critical Bibliography (London, 2011)

Back to contents

A New Song of Lulla By,/ OR, Father Peters 's Policy Discovered.

A Pritty Babe, and Hopeful Son,/ of late we much did boast,/But now, alas! we are undone,/ was ever Rome so crost.

To the Tune of, Green Sleeves. Or, My Mistriss is to Bulling gone.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


IN Rome there is a most fearful Rout,

And what do you think it is about?

Because the Birth of the Babe's come out,

Sing Lulla by Babee, By, by, by.


The Nuns and Fryars fret and brawl,

And tell the Pope, the Hereticks all

Does swear it came in at the Hole i'th' Wall,

Sing Lulla, &c.


His Holiness did stamp and stare,

Biting his Thumbs and tearing his Hair,

And said, why did you not take greater care.

Sing Lulla, &c.


The Jesuits swear the Midwife told Tales,

And ruin'd his Highness the Prince of Wales;

She's a Jade for her pains, Cots-plutter-a-nails.

Sing Lulla, &c.


Another laid all the whole blame on the Nurse,

His Holiness Swore 'twas so much the worse;

By Bell, Book and Candle he straight did her Curse.

Sing Lulla, &c.


What though it was but a forg'd device;

Why yet by singing of Mass once or twice,

I'd a made it an absolute Heir in a trice,

Sing Lulla, &c.


The Popish Crew did all protest,

That twenty great Men swear at least,

They see his Welch Highness creep out of his Nest,

Sing Lulla, &c.


The Goggle=ey'd Monster in the Tower ,

He peep'd at his Birth for above an hour,

And 'twas a true Prince of Wales he swore;

Sing Lulla, &c.


There was another Renowned Spark,

He see as well what was done in the dark,

As if he had stood in the City of York.

Sing Lulla, &c.


And both were so well satisfy'd,

They knew the sweet Babe from a thousand they cry'd,

'Twas born with the Print of a Tile on his side,

Sing Lulla, &c.


This shews he came of the Royal Race,

And therefore ought indeed to take place;

But alas! alas, I pity his case.

Sing Lulla, &c.


Some say 'tis a Prince of Wales by right,

And those that deny't, 'tis out of spight,

But God send the Mother came honest by't,

Sing Lulla, &c.


With holy water, and sweet perfume,

And a holy Smock that was sent from Rome,

Did cause a young Infant to spring in her womb,

Sing Lulla, &c.


The Papists thought themselves greatly blest,

Before the young Babe was brought to the Test;

But now they call Peters a Fool of a Priest,

Sing Lulla, &c.


The Priests in order to flye to the Pope,

Are gotten on Board of the Forreign Hope,

For all that stay here will be sure of a Rope,

Sing Lulla by babee, by, by, by.


Printed  in the Year 1688.

Back to contents

This ballad is included according to the criteria for List B (see Methodology). The evidence presented here is accurate, to the best of our knowledge, as of 1st January 2024.

No. of known editions c. 1560-1711: 6

No. of extant copies: 13

Appearances on publishers' lists: none.

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

3-yr periods that produced multiple editions: 1688-90 (6).

New tune titles generated: 'Lulla by baby' (2 ballads); and 'In Rome there is a most fearful rout' (1 ballad).

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Pre-1640 bonus: no.

POINTS: 12 + 13 + 0 + 0 + 36 + 6 + 0 + 0 = 67

[On this ballad, see also Angela McShane, Political Broadside Ballads of Seventeenth-Century England, no. 932X].

Back to contents

This box will be used to highlight any new information on this song that might come to light after the launch of the website.

Back to contents