96  Young Jemmy,/ OR,/ The Princely Shepherd [Roxburghe 2.556]

Author: Anonymous, Behn, Aphra (1640?-1689)

Recording: Young Jemmy

Bodies - looks/physique Emotions - longing Emotions - sorrow Environment - birds Environment - flowers/trees Environment - landscape Family - children/parents Gender - masculinity Politics - controversy Politics - domestic Politics - obedience Politics - plots Politics - power Society - rural life

Song History

Young Jemmy or the Princely Shepherd was published in late 1683 by Philip Brooksby.

Historical Context

In 1683, James Scot, duke of Monmouth, the hugely popular, illegitimate, but Protestant son of Charles II, was deeply implicated in the ‘Rye House Plot’. The plotters, it was said, planned to kill the king and his brother James, duke of York, as they returned from the races at Newmarket on 1 April and to place Monmouth on the throne instead. In the event, the plot was thwarted because a major fire in Newmarket (which destroyed half the town) led to the races being cancelled. The king and his brother returned to London early before the plotters were ready.

By 12 June 1683, one of the plotters, Josiah Keeling, had revealed the plot to the secretary of state, Sir Leoline Jenkins. This discovery handed the government the opportunity to finally kill off 'exclusion' (which aimed to bar Charles's Catholic brother James from the succession). This was achieved literally, by executing all the Whig leaders for involvement in the plot, and literarily, by unleashing a torrent of pro-Tory songs and pamphlets that accused the Whigs of trying to begin a new civil war.


The first four verses of Young Jemmy or the Princely Shepherd were written by the court poet and playwright, Aphra Behn. Behn was deeply suspicious of Monmouth. He was much loved at court and popular with the wider public. He encapsulated all the virtues of the perfect courtier and prince: he was handsome, an excellent dancer, and a brave and successful soldier. But Monmouth had also become politically ambitous. In the wake of the Popish Plot and Exclusion crises (between 1678 and 1683), the young duke became a focus for the Whigs, some of whom hoped to force the king to legitimise his Protestant son and make him heir in place of his Catholic brother.

Behn's original poem was written in c.1680 after Monmouth had been banished from the court (for a second time) because of his populist political activities. The poem criticised Monmouth for giving up his favoured position in court (depicted as a pastoral idyll) in order to follow his overweening and dangerous political ambitions. The poem inspired numerous white-letter songs written by campaigners for and against the two 'Jemmys' - the dukes of Monmouth and York -  in 1680-1681.

Monmouth, like many of those executed, had not, in fact, been part of any assassination plot. He escaped an axe but was (for the third time) exiled from the court. In November 1683, Monmouth was permitted to return on condition that he gave evidence against his fellow plotters. This news inspired several songs that welcomed him back to court, including our featured song, which was issued in at least two black-letter editions by Philip Brooksby.


Behn's courtly pastoral poem was lengthened to ten verses by a professional balladeer. The opening lines - ‘Young Jemmy was a lad / Of Royal birth and Breeding’ - were alluded to by all the ‘Young Jemmy’ ballads that followed. Lamenting Monmouth’s departure from court, the loss of ‘his face and shape so wondrous fine’, the song tells of the sighing nymphs and swains who have missed him and hoped for his return. While emphasising Monmouth’s extraordinary attractions - ‘he with glances could enslave the heart’ - the song also suggests that Monmouth had fallen victim to wicked politicians, who had led him astray: 

But oh unlucky fate, a curse upon ambition

The busie fops of state have ruin’d his condition …

by flattering fools and knaves betray’d, poor Jemmy is undone.’

In the event, hopes that Monmouth would be won back to the court were dashed: he refused to confess or to aid in the conviction of other plotters. In consequence, on 7 December 1683, he was swiftly and finally banished from court and country.

Publication and Popularity

Behn’s original poem or song was already very well known. It circulated at court in manuscript and was afterwards published in a white-letter format on an undated single sheet (see Publishing History). In 1684, it was reprinted in Behn's collected Poems (p.123). The imprint addresses on Brooksby's two black-letter editions of Young Jemmy tell us they were published some time between 1680 (when the song was written) and 1684 (after which Brooksby moved to a new shop). The most striking difference between the two editions is the adjustment of the woodcuts. The edition that presumably appeared first carried images of a shepherd and shepherdess, but also portrait heads of the two 'Jemmys' (York and Monmouth) and a young woman depicted in fashionable 'en deshabille'. On the second edition, the young woman is soberly dressed and Monmouth's portrait has been removed. Sadly, no evidence has so far come to light regarding contemporaries that purchased any of the surviving sheets. 

Angela McShane


Melinda S. Zook, ‘Contextualizing Aphra Behn : plays, politics, and party, 1679-1689’, in Women writers and the early modern British political tradition, ed. by Hilda L. Smith (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 75-93.

Toni Bowers, ‘Behn's Monmouth: Sedition, Seduction, and Tory Ideology in the 1680s’, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 38. (2009) 15-44.

Clare Backhouse, Fashion and Popular Print in Early Modern England: Depicting Dress in Black-Letter Ballads (Oxford, 2017)


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Featured Tune History

To the tune of ‘The Gowlin’ (standard name: London is a fine town)

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

Our recording uses the last of the three tunes recommended on the ballad sheet (see ‘Postscript’, below, for remarks on the other two). It was known variously as ‘The Gowlin’ (also ‘the golding’ and ‘See the Gowlin my Jo’), ‘London is a fine/brave town’ and ‘Watton town’s end’.

Under the last of these titles, notation appears in Playford’s Dancing Master (from the 1665 edition onwards) and this is the version featured on the recording. The notation that occurs repeatedly in editions of the eighteenth-century song-collection, Wit and Mirth, is closely related but not identical. As its presence in this famous volume suggests, the tune remained well-known in the 1700s and was called upon in numerous ballad-operas. In Gay’s Beggar’s Opera (1728), for example, ‘Oh London is a fine Town’ is chosen for a song beginning, ‘Our Polly is a sad Slut!’ (and the notation presents subtle but satisfying modifications to the tune).

In this case and others, one of the most striking features of the melody is its circularity; it reaches no clear conclusion, avoiding the apparent keynote in the final bar and thus encouraging a return to the start (a useful device in strophic songs and especially dances). As Simpson put it, ‘the last note calls for a chord of the dominant which leads naturally back to the beginning of the tune’. This is perhaps to impose modern harmonic expectations on a pre-modern melody that actually has no certain key and is, by design, permanently restless.

Echoes (an overview)

This simple tune was nominated on ballads throughout the seventeenth century, though it was not one of the most widely used. It seems to have been called upon particularly for texts that reflected upon relationships between the respectable and the disreputable in some way.

There were several variatons on this theme: two songs, each of which generated a new title for the tune, described sexual encounters between wealthy men and lowly women (Watten Towns-end and The Gowlin); another documented the fear of prosperous individuals that beggary was just a few bad decisions away (A merry new Ballad intituled: The beggar comes); and two provided surveys of contemporary life in which the socially integrated and the marginal were juxtaposed (Sure my Nurse was a witch and The POPES Pedigree: Or, the twineing of a Wheelband). The POPES Pedigree features a manufacturer’s wheel and reflects on the cyclical nature of fortune, and thus is particularly suited to a tune that goes round and round in circles.

Some of these songs focused strongly on London, and a connection between the tune and the capital city developed as a second resonance. Turners dish of Lentten stuffe was a broadly critical survey of London life, but LONDONS PRAISE, OR The Glory of the CITY gave a very different impression (this song also generated the new tune title ‘London is a brave town’).

The only clear outlier in the list below is our hit ballad, Young Jemmy, an admiring account of the unnamed James Scott, Duke of Monmouth. This was an expanded version of a song written by Aphra Behn in c. 1680, though her text was set to a different and newly-composed tune (see below). When the broadside version was sung to the simpler, older dance-melody heard on our recording, it seems likely that the music called fleetingly to mind the more explicitly sexual content of Watten Towns-end and The Gowlin (it may be significant that the tune was here named ‘The Gowlin’ rather than ‘London is a brave town’). In Young Jemmy, however, we encounter not the lust of a wealthy man for a ‘whore’ or beggar-woman but instead the desire of a shepherd-girl for a troubled prince. In this creative double inversion, perhaps, lay some portion of the new song’s appeal.

Direct textual cross-references among the various songs do not appear to have been particularly extensive. The repetitive sounding of key words within several of the songs certainly stimulates comparison: ‘whore’ in Watten Towns-end; ‘beggar’ in both  A merry new Ballad and Sure my Nurse was a witch; and, rather differently, ‘Jemmy’ in Young Jemmy.

And the refrains of A merry new Ballad and Sure my Nurse was a witch seem to echo one another: ‘The begger! the begger!/ the begger he was come,/ And almost like to catch me:/ ‘twas tyme for me to run’; and ‘Come take him beggar, take him,/ her take him beggar, take him,/ Thus still she sings unto her child,/ then take him beggar take him.’ In the first, a man fears being abducted by a beggar, while in the second a nurse asks a beggar to remove the noisy infant for whom she is caring, but the shared tune and the repetitive vocabulary encourage us to put the contrasting examples together.

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

Songs and Summaries

Watten Towns-end; Or, A Nosegay of Pleasure... Tune is, Watten Towns end; Or, Lame Leg next the Wall (originally early seventeenth century; P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Crawford 91; EBBA 32833. Gender – sex; Bodies – looks/physique, health/sickness, adornment; Employment – prostitution, sailors/soldiers; Humour – bawdry; Places – English, travel/transport; Recreation – food. A man deploys terminology drawn from shipping to describe his encounter with a woman of ill repute and laments the fact that she gave him the French pox (‘She seemd a stately Pleasure-Boat,/ with tempting good attire:/ But little knew that under Deck/ her Gun-Room was in Fire’).

A merry new Ballad intituled: The beggar comes, the beggar comes, &c... The second part... To the Tune of Watton towne’s end (copied by hand, 1603-16). Shirburn Ballads XXXIV. Society – rich/poor; Economy – hardship/prosperity, livings; Recreation – alcohol, games/sports; Emotions – anxiety; Employment – begging, agrarian, alehouses/inns; Crime – robbery/theft, punishment; Death – execution; Places – travel/transport; Environment – animals. The narrator imagines himself pursued by a beggar as he wastes his money and time on drink and gambling, but he cheers up when he dreams up a new scenario in which the beggar will be hanged for thieving.

Turners dish of Lentten stuffe, or a Galymaufery. To the tune of Watton Townes end (J. W., 1602-46). Pepys 1.206-07; EBBA 20092 (later re-issued as The Common Cries of London Town: EBBA 33383).  Society – urban life; Employment – crafts/trades; Recreation – food, games/sports, theatre; Morality – social/economic; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance; Places – English; Environment – buildings; Economy – money, prices/wages; Crime – execution. The first song recounts the cries of London street-sellers, drawing attention to their questionable dealings, and the second provides a set of somewhat disconnected observations on London life.

Sure my Nurse was a witch, OR, The merry Night-wench...To the tune of See the golding, or watton townes end (H. G, 1601-40).  Pepys 1.204-05; EBBA 20091.  Humour – extreme situations, satire; Recreation – good fellowship, alcohol, games; Employment – crafts/trades, urban; Family – children/parents; Gender – courtship, marriage, masculinity, sex.  A London nurse sings a curious lullaby that surveys a range of dissolute male types and concludes that only a yeoman is worth marrying.

The POPES Pedigree: Or, the twineing of a Wheelband... To a pleasant new Tune, Or, London is a brave Town (J. Conyers, 1661-92). Roxburghe 4.67; EBBA 31382. Family – children/parents, pregnancy/childbirth; Society – rich/poor; Employment – crafts/trades, sailors/soldiers, professions, apprenticeship/service; Gender – sex; Humour – bawdry, satire; Religion – clergy, Catholic/Protestant. This imagines all sorts of humans – rich and poor, male and female – being churned out by a ‘wheelband’, drawing attention to the interrelationships among people and the cyclical nature of fortune.

LONDONS PRAISE, OR The Glory of the CITY... Tune of, London is a brave Town, &c. (J. Hose, 1672-90). Pepys 4.339; EBBA 22002. Places – English; Emotions – joy; Crime – general, false weight and measure; Society – urban life; Recreation – public festivity, music; Politics – domestic, Royalist, power; Employment – crafts/trades, female; History – medieval, heroism; Morality – social/economic, general; Environment – buildings; Royalty – praise. A song of praise to contemporary London, concentrating on its excellent governing institutions and uplifting civic pageantry.

The Gowlin: Or, A Pleasant Fancy for the SPRING... To a new Play-house Tune: Or, See the Gowlin my Jo, &c. (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Wood E 25(134). Gender – sex; Society – rich/poor, rural life; Environment –flowers/trees; Humour – bawdry, verbal; Employment – begging; Bodies – looks/physique, clothing; Emotions – longing, contentment; Places – nationalities; Family – children/parents; Recreation – walking. A bawdy song about a sexual encounter between a Scottish Laird and a beautiful beggar-woman (the ‘Gowlin’ is a flower with euphemistic overtones).

Young Jemmy, OR, The Princely Shepherd… To a pleasant New Play-house Tune. Or, In January last, Or, The Gowlin (P. Brooksby, 1682-84). Roxburghe 2.556; EBBA 31154. Gender – masculinity; Bodies – looks/physique; Emotions – longing, sorrow; Politics – controversy, domestic, power, plots, obedience; Society – rural life; Environment – animals/birds, flowers/trees, landscape; Family – children/parents. A song that praises but does not name James Scott, Duke of Monmouth – Charles II’s illegitimate son, championed by some as a potential heir to the throne and temporarily banished from court by his father in 1679-80.


The ‘pleasant New Play-house Tune’ that is mentioned as an alternative for this ballad is probably the ‘New Scotch Tune’ to which Aphra Behn set her original four-verse text in c.1680. It subsequently became known as ‘Young Jemmy’ following its association with these verses and the expanded broadside version. It is more complex than ‘The gowlin’ and the singer must cover a range of one and a half octaves.

‘In January last’, the other recommended tune, seems to have originated in ‘A Scotch Song’ by Thomas D’Urfey, written in 1677 for a stage-play. It shares with Behn’s melody its allegedly ‘Scotch’ character and its musical complexity. The history of ‘In January last’ as a broadside tune suggests that it had more solidly and positively romantic associations than those carried by ‘The Gowlin’ (see, for example, The Scotch WeddingLoves Quintessence and The New married Scotch Couple).

The tune of 'The gowlin' (or 'London is a fine town') was also used occasionally on white-letter ballads in the later seventeenth century. See, for example, The Religious Turncoat (1693), which tells the story of a man who has changed his religious affiliation every few years since 1641 in order to prosper under each successive regime. The tune must also have been intended for several texts that appeared in songbooks or manuscripts of the period. In Le Prince d’Amour (1660), for example, there appears a song beginning ‘London is a fine town’ and we can presume that this was sung to the tune. And the black-letter ballad that appeared as LONDONS PRAISE shares its refrain and other features with a manuscript poem of the mid-seventeenth century entitled ‘Wattling-Streetes end’.


Jeremy Barlow (ed.), The Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford’s Dancing Master (1985), no. 134.

Aphra Behn, Poems upon several occasions (1684), pp. 123-35.

Thomas D’Urfey, The Fond Husband (1677), pp. 50-51.

John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera (1728), p. 11.

Le Prince d’Amour (1660), pp.158-60.

John Playford, The Dancing Master (1665), p. 111.

Claude Simpson, The British broadside ballad and its music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 460-66 (see also pp. 365-67 and 808-10).

‘Wattling-Streetes end’, Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Ashmole 36-37, fo. 318.

Wit and Mirth (1719-20), vols. II, p. 150, IV, pp. 40, 77, 179, V, p. 27, and VI, p. 144.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Countrywoman with crook

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 image was used regularly on seventeenth-century ballads, particularly in the 1680s. More than one woodblock existed, suggesting the popularity of the picture, and several publishers issued songs that displayed it. Most of these belonged to a sort of fantasy rural love genre, usually describing the wholesome and lusty love between a shepherdess and a shepherd (one song praised a woman’s ‘ivory pillows’, and these are clearly represented in the woodcut). Fittingly, she appeared again and again with her male equivalent, also carrying a crook. Some of these ballads told sad stories, but essentially this woman and her swain were a romantic couple about whom we are being encouraged to think positively.

Young Jemmy therefore appropriated the existing associations of both woodcuts and endowed them with potent political overtones. Jemmy represents the Duke of Monmouth, and in the ballad it is almost as if the Duke is returning the compliment, donning the clothes of a rather up-market shepherd as if preparing to participate in a court masque. Given the impressive success of the song – there was also a more obviously political white-letter version – we might further wonder whether other ballads about rural lovers that featured the pictures also came to take on a coded charge for some consumers during the 1680s. The Countrywoman with crook also appeared on other surviving copies of Young Jemmy, though most of these appear to represent the same edition.

Songs and summaries

Coridon and Parthenia, The Languishing Shepherd made Happy (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.68; EBBA 30579.  Gender – courtship, sex; Emotions – longing, love, joy; Employment – agrarian; Environment – animals, birds, flowers/trees; Recreation – music; Society – rural life.  Coridon is driven to the brink of death by his love for Parthenia but she arrives just in time and offers to have sex with him (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, to the right of a man who also carries a crook).

The Shepherds Glory (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.428; EBBA 30894.  Employment – agrarian, crafts/trades, female/male; Religion – Bible; History – ancient/mythological; Economy – livings; Environment – animals, birds, flowers/trees; Gender – masculinity; Recreation – music; Society – rural life.  A song in praise of shepherds, covering both their prominence in the Bible and their vital economic role in the present day (picture placement: she appears with a man who also holds a crook, and both are hovered over by two cherubs with a crown).

True LOVE without DECEIT (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.470; EBBA 30955.  Gender – courtship, masculinity; Emotions – love, despair; Death – heartbreak; Bodies – health/sickness. Strephon is deeply saddened by Phillis’ rejection of his love, but he resolves nonetheless to remain faithful to her until he dies (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, to the right of a man who also carries a crook).

Celinda's last Gasp: OR, Her Farewel to False Coridon (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Roxburghe 2.45; EBBA 30272.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Death – heartbreak; Emotions – love, anger, hatred, despair; Morality – romantic/sexual; Religion – ghosts/spirits. Celinda dies heartbroken, but not before vowing to haunt her cruel former sweetheart, Coridon, so that his life becomes unbearable (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, and Cupid aims an arrow at her from the right).

Flora Happily Revived By Strephons Return (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Pepys 3.193; EBBA 21206.  Gender – courtship, femininity; Employment – agrarian, female/male; Emotions – anxiety, love, joy; Recreation – music; Nature – animals; Bodies –physique. Flora, a shepherdess, is anxious because of the absence of her sweetheart, Strephon, but fortunately he turns up and reassures her (picture placement: she appears on the right, alongside a man who also carries a crook).

The Lamentation of Cloris For the Unkindness of her SHEPHERD (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1680-81).  Pepys 4.56; EBBA 21722.  Gender – marriage, adultery/cuckoldry, sex, femininity, masculinity; Emotions – anger, anxiety, longing; Employment – agrarian. Cloris, desperate for a baby, is frustrated with Strephon, her shepherding husband, because he is usually too tired to have sex with her, and she resolves to find another man who will approach the task with greater gusto (picture placement: she stands over the opening lines, and appears to look towards an image of happy lovers).

Love and Constancy United: Or the Languishing Lady made Happy (C. Dennisson, 1680-95).  Pepys 3.204; EBBA 21217. Gender – courtship, femininity; Emotion – anxiety, longing, love, joy.  Aminta is missing Alexis desperately but he arrives upon the scene in order to reassure her (picture placement: she appears over the opening verse, alongside a more courtly woman and a man who also holds a crook).

Young Jemmy, OR, The Princely Shepherd (P. Brooksby, 1682-84). Roxburghe 2.556; EBBA 31154. Gender – masculinity; Bodies – looks/physique; Emotions – longing, sorrow; Politics – controversy, domestic, power, plots, obedience; Society – rural life; Environment – animals/birds, flowers/trees, landscape; Family – children/parents. A song that praises but does not name James Scott, Duke of Monmouth – Charles II’s illegitimate son, championed by some as a potential heir to the throne and temporarily banished from court by his father in 1679-80 (picture placement: she stands over the opening verse, next to a remarkably well-dressed shepherd with a crook of his own).

THE Shepherds Complaint: AND THE Comforting Shepherdess (Josiah Blare, 1682-1706).  Pepys 3.217; EBBA 21230. Gender – courtship, masculinity; Cupid; Emotions – anxiety, love; Employment – agrarian. A man languishes in romantic pain, uncertain of his sweetheart’s love, but things improve when she intervenes to reassure him (picture placement: she appears over the opening lines, separated from a man with a crook by an image of Cupid).

The Westminster Lovers ([P. Brooksby], 1683-98).  Roxburghe 2.510; EBBA 31012.  Gender – courtship, mascuilinity, femininity; Bodies - health/sickness; Death – immoderate love, grief, burial/funeral; Emotions – longing, love, sorrow; Family – children/parents. A warning about the dangers of passionate love, drawn from the sad deaths of a shepheard and his sweetheart whose bodies simply could not take the strain of their mutual devotion (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, to the left of a man who also carries a crook).

The Surpriz'd Shepherdess (J. Deacon, c.1684).  Pepys 3.199; EBBA 21212. Gender – sex, courtship; Employment – agrarian, female/male; Emotions – longing, love, joy; Environment – animals, landscape, seasons, weather. A romantic ballad about a maiden who lies sleeping in a meadow until she is aroused in more ways than one by a lusty shepherd (picture placement: she appears on the right, alongside a man who also carries a crook).

[The] Innocent Shepherd and the Crafty Wife Or, A Dialogue between a Shepherd and his Love (C. Dennison, 1685-88).  Pepys 3.209; EBBA 21222.  Gender – marriage, adultery/cuckoldry, femininity, masculinity, sex; Humour – domestic/familial, bawdry, misunderstanding, verbal, mockery; Employment – agrarian; Bodies – clothing.  A shepherd complains to his wife that he is always ‘cuc-cold’ so she tries to help him think of ways in which his problem can be managed (picture placement: she stands beneath the title, to the right of a larger image in which a shepherd can be seen at work in the fields).

THE Languishing SWAIN. OR, The Happy Return of his Loyal Love (no imprint, 1685-88).  Roxburghe 2.273; EBBA 30732.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Emotions – anger, love; Employment – agrarian, female/male; Environment – animals.  A man assumes that his sweetheart has left him when she goes off to tend her lambs, but she returns to his side and calmly delivers some wholesome reassurance (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, to the right of a man who also carries a crook).

The Faithful Shepherd; Or, The Loves of Tommy and Nanny (no imprint, later seventeenth century). Roxburghe 2.150; EBBA 30630.  Gender – courtship; Bodies – physique/looks; Emotions – anxiety, love, hope. Tommy loves Nanny and thinks about her ‘Ivory Pillows’ all the time, but now it seems likely that she has ditched him (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, to the right of a man who also carries a crook).

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

As noted in the Song history, the first four verses of Young Jemmy or the Princely Shepherd were authored by Aphra Behn and printed in her Poems (1684), p. 123. Numerous songs welcomed 'young Jemmy' back to court, including the following:

The Merciful Father, or, The Penitent Son; A Congratulatory SONG on the Happy and most wish’d for Return of James D. of Monmouth. To COURT; and his Reception into Favour again. To the Tune of, There was a bonny young Lad (1684-1685). PBB No. 695; EBBA 20833.

Mirth and Gladness, after sorrow and sadness. BE[I]NG THE Dutchess of Monmouths Address of Thanks to His Majesty, and the Duke of York, for receiving in-to Favour his Grac[e] James Duke of Monmouth (1684). PBB No. 697; EBBA 20832

The Dutchess of Monmouth’s Lamentation for the Loss of Her DUKE (1683). PBB No. 736.

THE Duke of Monmouths Triumph, over all his Misfortunes. Who is now Pardoned and Entertained at Court, by the Intercession of His Royal Highness the Duke of YORK (1683). PBB No. 746; EBBA 34780.

The Whigs Elevation, / For His GRACE the / Duke of MONMOUTH's / Happy Return to COURT. (1683). EBBA 38044 

Angela McShane

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



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Young Jemmy,/ OR,/ The Princely Shepherd./  Being a most pleasant and Delightful New Song,

In blest Arcadia, where each Shepherd feeds/ His numerous Flocks, and tunes on slender Reeds;/ His song of Love, while the fair nymphs trip round,/ The chief amongst ‘um was young Jemmy found:/ For he with glances could enslave each heart,/ But fond Ambition made him to depart/ The Fields to Court, led on by such as sought/ To blast his Vertues which much sorrow brought

To a pleasant New Play-house Tune. Or, In January last, Or, The Gowlin.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


Young Jemmy was a Lad,

of Royal birth and Breeding;

With every Beauty clad,

and every Swain exceeding.

A face and shape so wonderous fine,

so charming every part:

That every Lass upon the Green,

for Jemmy had a heart.


In Jemmy’s powerful Eyes

young Gods of Love are playing,

And on his face there lies

a thousand smiles betraying:

But O he dances with a grace,

none like him e’re was seen:

No God that ever fancied was,

had so divine a meen.


To Jemmy every Swain

did lowly doft his Bonnet:

And every Lass did strain,

to praise him in her Sonnet:

The pride of all the Youths he was,

the Glory of the Groves:

The pleasure of each tender Lass,

and theme of all their Loves.


BUt Oh unlucky fate,

ah Curse upon Ambition:

The busie Fops of State,

have ruin’d his condition:

For glittering hope he left his shade,

his glorious hours are gone:

By flattering Fools and Knaves betray’d,

poor Jemmy is undone.


Then Jemmy none more kind,

and courteous had been ever:

Thinking the like to find,

but he as yet did never:

For the false Swains that led him forth

to expectations high:

Design’d but to Eclipse his worth,

brave Jemmy to out=vye.


But Jemmy saw not this,

when in the Groves delighting,

Nor thought to tread amiss,

at such a fair inviting:

But Jemmy was mistaken there,

for he was led astray;

Whilst each kind Swain and Nymph so fair,

for Jemmy sigh’d all day.


For Jemmy’s loss the streams

ran hoarse, as if with mourning;

The birds forgat their Leams

and Flowers so late adorning.

The pleasant Plains hung down their heads

as bearing part o’ th grief,

And wishing he had longer staid,

but Jemmy’d no belief.


For Jemmy’s strutting veins,

with youthful blood were flowing,

Which made him raise his strains,

to his almost undoing.

Though each kind Villager did pray

he would again return:

And tread still in the pleasant Way,

but Jemmy it did scorn.


For Jemmy in fierce Arms,

more then his Crook delighting:

Dispis’d the Wood=Nymphs charms,

that were so much inviting.

And dreams of digging Trenches deep,

storming each Fort and Town;

Ambition still disturb’d his sleep,

whilst jemmy sought renown.


But jemmy now may see,

that he was led to ruin,

By such as glad would be

of his utter undoing.

Yet that his Wandring he’d retrive,

the wish is of the Swains:

And in Arcadia happy live,

where his great Father reigns:


Printed for P. Brooksby, at the Golden-ba[ll],/ in West-Smithfield.




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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: 3

No. of extant copies: 8

Appearances on publishers' lists: none.

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

3-yr periods that produced multiple editions: 1682-84 (3).

New tune titles generated: 'Young Jemmy' (8 ballads).

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Pre-1640 bonus: no.

POINTS: 6 + 8 + 0 + 0 + 18 + 16 + 0 + 0 = 48

[On this ballad, see also Angela McShane, Political Broadside Ballads of Seventeenth-Century England, no. 696X].

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