8  A NEW SONG [Pepys 4.312]

Author: Wharton, Thomas (1648–1715), Wharton, Henry, Ware, Robert

Recording: A NEW SONG

Emotions - excitement Emotions - scorn Humour - mockery Humour - verbal News - political Politics - Glorious Revolution Politics - Popish Plot/Exclusion Crisis Politics - Tories/Whigs Politics - controversy Politics - domestic Politics - foreign affairs Politics - satire Religion - Catholic/Protestant

Song History

A New Song is not only the best-known political song of the seventeenth century, but also continues to be a vehicle for divisive politics to this day. Originally written (though not, as far as we know, published) in 1687, it became hugely popular at the time of the 'Glorious Revolution'. Multiple broadside editions were printed in the period between October 1688, as William of Orange and his Dutch army were preparing an invasion to challenge the Catholic James II, and 11 April 1689, when William and his wife Mary, James II’s eldest daughter, were crowned as joint king and queen.


Authorship of A New Song has long been attributed to Thomas Wharton, a leading Whig, and the long-term MP for Buckinghamshire. However, though Wharton was a renowned wit, the attribution was never very reliable since it came from a comment made by Wharton’s political enemies early in the eighteenth century. Wharton's sole authorship has been comprehensively and compellingly challenged in a recent article by Kenneth Fergusson. His new account brings together a broad range of evidence and, crucially, takes into account the necessity of the author knowing something of the Irish language and culture. 

Fergusson proposes two alternative authors who (as was typical) collaborated over the song. Of the first, he writes:

‘Robert Ware (1639-97), custos brevium and chirographer of the Court of Common Pleas ... was the able, mischievous, and highly-political second son of Sir James Ware, the eminent Dublin antiquary. He was also an ultra-Protestant, disdainful of Catholicism and the Irishry.’

Ware, Fergusson notes, was a Whig sympathiser and was certainly in London in 1687, since he was forced to return to England after losing his position after Tyrconnell's appointment. Given his politics and social standing, it is highly likely he attended one of London’s Whig clubs, notably the ‘Treason Club’, held in the Rose Tavern on Drury Lane, where he would have met with the Wharton brothers, Thomas and Henry.

Henry Wharton was an officer in the Coldstream Guards. Another ultra-Protestant, he not only immediately joined William of Orange at Exeter, soon after he landed, but also helped his brother to organise a campaign against James II amongst the rank and file before Orange arrived. Fergusson provides evidence that Henry Wharton, ‘dressed in the habit of a player’, performed ‘Lillibullero’ before James II at the playhouse in 1688 and was thought by some to have authored A New Song. Given that Henry Wharton died fighting in Ireland in 1689, the transference of authorship rumours to his brother Thomas, who almost certainly sang the song often, and, as was reported of him, may well have boasted ‘that he had used Lillibullero to sing King James out of his three kingdoms’, would seem understandable.

On the strength of this new account, the 100 Ballads database has followed Fergusson in attributing authorship of the ballad to Henry Wharton and Robert Ware, and also proposes a third option - not noted by Fergusson but equally possible - that all three men, both the Whartons and Ware, collaborated on the song.

Historical Context #1

Despite its title, neither the words, the tune, nor the famous chorus of what was often referred to as ‘the Irish song’ were, in fact, new in 1688. Nor was the tune ‘Irish’ or even necessarily the only tune to which the song could be sung. On Anthony Wood’s white-letter copy, bought on 17 December 1688, the first verse was underscored with the music for ‘Stingo or Oyl of Barley’, a dance tune that works equally well with the words (See also Featured tune history).

The song was originally written in Spring 1687 in response to the king’s appointment of Richard Talbot, the Catholic Earl of Tyrconnell, to be Lord Deputy of Ireland. This first iteration of the song was meant only for the private amusement of friends and allies who had long campaigned to exclude James II from the succession.

Thomas Wharton’s biographer notes that there were both personal and political reasons for the Wharton family to be concerned over Talbot’s appointment. The Whartons, like other Anglo-Irish owners, were afraid that their Irish estates might be at risk of confiscation, while both the Whartons' and Ware’s colonial connections to Ireland explain a good deal about the anti-Irish stereotypes used in the song and the political memories and fears that its chorus sought to rejuvenate.

Politically, increasing numbers of MPs from all sides were becoming anxious at the growing presence of Catholics in James II’s standing army, fearing the king might use it to impose Catholicism on his Protestant subjects. Tensions were equally apparent within the army itself: for example, Henry Wharton had both challenged and killed a Catholic fellow officer in a duel.


Written in a mock-Irish dialect, A New Song derided the Irish as superstitious and stupid peasants, but it also showed them as potentially dangerous and threatening. ‘Teague’ (a stereotypical name for an Irishman) and his ‘brother’ welcome Talbot, the new ‘debutie’, and vow to bring about the violent downfall of all non-Catholics. As Deana Rankin has argued, the derogatory ‘versions of Irishness [that were] crystallised in the English popular imagination’ by jestbooks, song and other satirical writings of the period 1679-89 ‘were rooted firmly in the fears generated by the Irish Rebellion in the mid-seventeenth century‘.

This view is further supported by the Irish scholar, Breandain Ó Buachalla, who has convincingly argued that, far from being meaningless, the New Song’s famous chorus parodies the slogans used by Irish Catholics during the 1641 and 1649 uprisings. The chorus claimed that the famous astrologer William Lilly had long-ago forecast the success of the new Irish insurgency: in Irish – 'Léir ó, Léir ó,/ léir ó, léir ó,/ bu linn an lá’ – and in English (as translated by Niall Mackenzie) – ‘It is shown by Lilly, the day will be ours'. As Mackenzie notes, the history of the song’s chorus is an ‘eloquent testament to the unpredictable trajectories of cultural mimicry and appropriation [in] that the slogan of Irish Catholic resistance which proclaimed a hostile English stargazer’s authority … ended up as the signature jingle of Williamite party songs.’

Historical Context #2: A New Song in Action

The birth of James II’s son in June 1688 brought the Whigs' worst fears into sharp focus. Unless action was taken, a Catholic succession seemed assured. In August, James II assembled the army at Hounslow Heath, just outside London. Though ostensibly an opportunity for military exercises and training, many suspected that the king’s real motivation was to intimidate his political opponents.

Both Whig and Tory gentry had already been shaken by the actions of James’ agents, who had presented the county gentry with a series of questions geared to assess whether they would support a pro-Court candidate in the forthcoming election, with a view to increasing the king’s powers over the army and legislating to free Catholics and Dissenters from all penal restrictions. Meanwhile, the king had already pre-empted legislation by issuing a ‘Declaration of Indulgence’ that granted freedom of worship. When, seven bishops protested and refused to order the Declaration to be read from the pulpit, they were imprisoned and tried for sedition: all seven were acquitted on 30 June.

The prince's birth along with the attack on the bishops proved the last straw for Whigs and Anglican Tories alike. Thomas and Henry Wharton assembled with supporters at the ‘Treason Club’ with a view to encouraging an army conspiracy. It seems likely that, as part of a wider campaign of protest, a decision was taken at that meeting to print and widely distribute A New Song, especially within the army.

The campaign was well under way by October 1688, when Narcissus Luttrell obtained his copy of the New Song, although, like Wood’s copy, it was set to the tune ‘Stingo’. At what precise point the song was set to Purcell’s jig-tune is unknown (indeed, Purcell may only have purloined the tune, as he did with other street melodies), but the ‘liliburlero’ tune was undoubtedly crucial to the song’s success. It soon spread like wildfire among the rank-and-file soldiers. Years later, Thomas D’Urfey highlighted its simple but engaging sing-ability when he disparaged the ‘pitiful Crowdero’ (fiddler and ballad-singer) ‘That could but tune or sing Burlero.’

The sentiments of the song were also key to its political power. By playing on a long-entrenched English and Scottish antipathy to Irish Catholics, the song brought together people that might otherwise have differed over many other topics. The confidence inspired by this loud and united community of singers, encouraged and enabled soldiers and officers alike to abandon James II in the face of William of Orange’s invasion.

Though by no means an unbiased observer, in his History of his own time, Bishop Gilbert Burnet could not help but express his wonder at how the New Song had impacted the momentous events of the Revolution:

‘the King [was put] in an unexpressable confusion. He saw himself now forsaken, not only by those whom he had trusted and favoured most, but even by his own children. And the army was in such distraction, that there was not anyone body that seemed entirely united and firm to him. A foolish ballad was made at this time, treating the Papists, and chiefly the Irish, in a very ridiculous manner, which had a burden, said to be Irish words, lero lero lilibulero, that made an impression on the Army that cannot be well imagined by those who saw it not. The whole Army, and at last, all people both in city and country, were singing it perpetually. And perhaps never had so slight a thing so great an effect.’

Publication and Popularity

Between October 1688 (when William issued his declaration against James II) and December 1688 (when James II fled to France), at least seven anonymously published editions of Wharton’s New Song appeared, of which only the one featured was printed in black-letter. Of the six white-letter versions, two carried real music notation (though for two different tunes), two carried woodcuts of music unrelated to any tune (one repeated phrases from ‘Hey Boys Up Go We’), and two editions carried no music at all. Given the huge demand for the song, we might surmise that the latter four editions were probably pirated copies, ordered by hawkers or booksellers from printers with no skill in music printing.

A sure sign of A New Song's impact on the army is that James II’s supporters attempted to counter its anti-Irish xenophobia with anti-Dutch stereotypes in A New Song upon the Hogen Mogen’s. How far they succeeded is unknown. Two anonymous editions of the Jacobite version are known to survive. The first was engraved by a specialist printer for the use of skilled musicians (perhaps for James’ loyal army officers) and will have circulated in limited numbers. The second edition was printed with notation. Only one copy of each edition survives: one was acquired on 17 November by the Whig collector Narcissus Luttrell (hardly a target audience), while the second offers no clue as to its purchaser. In 1689, a Whig pamphlet mocked the failure of those that had supported James II’s regime to silence the song. In A dialogue between Sir R. L. Knight and T[itus]. O[ates]. D[octor] (a parody of Sir Roger L’Estrange’s paper, The Observator) the Dr. O[ates] character points out that L’Estrange had long worked to restrict and exploit the ballad trade, then asks 'But how the Devil came the Irish Ballad out?’

Seizing on A New Song’s success, a sequel followed after the Revolution, possibly not until March 1689. The Second Part OF Lill---li burlero bullen a-la expressly responded to the meaning of the original chorus by claiming that an old prophesy had indeed ‘come to pass’. It expressed Irish terror at the Dutch coming to their shores, and outrage at the attacks on London’s Catholic chapels (in November), as well as naming Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys, who was imprisoned in December 1688 and died in 1689. This link between A New Song and Lord Judge Jeffreys was highlighted soon afterwards in one of many gloating accounts of the Chancellor’s downfall: Jeffreys asks ‘that my Funeral Anthems be all set to the Tune of old Lilli burlero, that never to be forgotten Irish Shiboleth, in Commemoration... of 200,000 Hereticks, that formerly Danced off to the said Musical Notes’.

A New Song continued to resonate and inspire political songs long after the Revolution. Updated versions appeared for years. For example, in 1696, yet another anti-papist ‘sequel’ emerged: Vox Clero.  Lil-ly bur-le-ro, or, The Second Part of a Merry New Ballad (London, 1696) and many song books included the tune or verses (See Featured Tune History and Related Texts). Some inspirations were less obvious. One of the pirated editions appeared on the verso of a comic song, An Answer TO The Baffl’d Knight, printed in c. 1690 for the bookseller Charles Bates. An Answer was the second part of a three-part series, in which a beautiful woman repeatedly defeats an old knight who tries to destroy her virtue. Though perhaps not intentional, this juxtaposition could easily have lent itself to a political reading of the comic song, with James II as the ridiculous and lecherous old knight, and the fair lady representing his former Protestant subjects and their lucky escapes.

Historical Context #3: The Political Legacy of A New Song

A New Song, and especially the chorus from which the tune is named, was redolent of the violently colonialist, anti-Irish, anti-Catholic sentiment of its time. It would be hundreds more years before English or Irish Catholics were able to claim full citizenship, either from within or outside the United Kingdom. Given its divisive and violent history and its long legacy as a standard marching tune for English armies, Loyalists and Orangemen through to the present day, it seems regrettable that it was also used for many years as a BBC theme tune. In 2004, a thoughtful essay on the long history of Loyalist song by Katy Radford argued that ‘The reception of familiar tunes [such as Liliburlero] from a collective social memory creates an inter-generational cohesion, particularly when the tropes of memorialisation and humour [are] at the expense of the Catholic "other"’.

Angela McShane


Kenneth Fergusson, ‘Who wrote Lillibullero? If not Tom Wharton, what about Robert Ware and Henry Wharton?’, The Irish sword: the journal of the Military History Society of Ireland. Vol:33, Issue:131 (2022), pp. 35-58

J. Clark, 'Wharton, Thomas, first marquess of Wharton, first marquess of Malmesbury, and first marquess of Catherlough (1648–1715), politician. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (updated: 21 May 2009).

Katy Radford, ‘Red, White, Blue and Orange: An Exploration of Historically Bound Allegiances through Loyalist Song’, The World of Music , 2004, Vol. 46, No. 1, Contemporary British Music Traditions (2004), pp. 71-89

[Thomas Wharton, pseud.], A True Relation ... of the Intended Riot and Tumult of Queen Elizabeth's Birthday (London, 1712), p.5.

Deana Rankin, 'Shet Fourd vor Generaul Nouddificaushion': Relocating the Irish Joke, 1678-1690 Eighteenth-Century Ireland / Iris an dá chultúr , 2001, Vol. 16 (2001), pp. 47-72

Breandain Ó Buachalla, Aisling Ghear: No Stiobhartaigh agus an tAos Léinn (Dublin: An Clóchomhar, 1996) pp. 504-7 (also printed in English)

Niall MacKenzie, ‘Reviewed Work(s): The Jacobite Relics of Scotland (First Series) by James Hogg and Murray G. H. Pittock’, The Review of English Studies, Nov., 2003, New Series, Vol. 54, No. 217 (Nov., 2003), pp. 693-695

The Chancellor’s Examination & Preparation for a Trial (1689)

Bishop Burnet's History of his own Time ed. Martin Joseph Routh (6 vols., Oxford, 1823), vol. III, p. 319.

A dialogue between Sir R. L. Knight and T[itus]. O[ates]. D[octor]. (1689), pp. 9-10.

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Featured Tune History

‘To an Excellent IRISH Tune’ (standard name: Lilliburlero)

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

The tune was normally known as ‘Lilliburlero’, though on occasion it was also called ‘Teague and Sawney’ or ‘Protestant Boys shall carry the day’. It was almost certainly newly composed in England during the 1680s, and the description ‘an Excellent IRISH Tune’ was probably a fiction. Parts of the melody also bears a resemblance to an earlier dance melody called ‘Hockley in the hole’, though the similarity may have been coincidental.

‘Lilliburlero’ was so successful during and after the late 1680s that notation can be found in many different sources. Surviving versions are all similar, revealing only minor alterations to what was clearly a very solid tune. The earliest known version appears with the title 'Quick Step' in Robert Carr’s The Delightful Companion (1686), a collection of tunes for recorder or flute. Other instrumental settings appear in the following sources: The Second Part of Musick’s Hand-maid (1689) where either the melody or, more probably, the arrangement is attributed to Henry Purcell; Appollo’s Banquet (1690); John Playford’s Dancing-Master (editions from 1690 onwards), which features the version used on our recording; and A Choice Collection of New songs and ballads (1699), in which Thomas D’Urfey modified the opening phrase of the tune’s second half, producing a form that is nowadays more familiar than the original.

Purcell also exploited the popularity of the melody by using it, with minor adjustments, as the ground (repetitive bass line) for a jig he contributed to a stage play called ‘The Gordian Knot Untied’ (the music was printed in A collection of ayres compos’d for the theatre, 1697). The melody can also be found on a white-letter edition of A New Song (1688) and on an engraved edition of a different ballad entitled, A New Song upon the Hogen Mogen’s (1688).

The tune also appears in several manuscript sources, including the book of violin tunes kept by the Newcastle coal merchant, Henry Atkinson, in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and the comparable book kept by the Welsh fiddler, John Thomas (his version shows some interesting changes and is entitled ‘Bili Bylero’). The tune remained extremely popular after 1700 and was called for in several ballad-operas (see, for example, Henry Fielding’s Don Quixote in England, 1734). Simpson, with good reason, called the melody ‘eminently singable’,  ‘spirited and infectious’. Perhaps its most distinctive feature is the flattened seventh, almost a ‘blue note’, that surprises the listener in the first line of the tune’s second half.

Echoes (an overview)

A NEW SONG was a huge hit in 1688, and it had very probably been circulating orally during the previous year. This ballad generated a new name, ‘Lilliburlero’, for its ‘Excellent IRISH Tune’. The light and catchy nature of the tune is ideally suited to the damning doggerel that is forced into the mouths of the fictional Irishman who sings the song.

This famous piece also set the tone for subsequent ballads that nominated the tune. These were numerous, and heavily dominated by manly political songs that praised King William, celebrated military victories and mocked the Irish. Some of these also followed A NEW SONG in its comedic intent (see, for example, Teague and Sawney), though most were more serious in tone. The political associations of the tune were also in play when it was named for the singing of West-Country TOM Tormented, a ballad about a visitor to London from rural England who is perplexed and offended by the extent to which city-dwellers discuss matters of state.

The manly militarism that the tune came to embody was also re-deployed to humorous effect in Couragious BETTY Of CHICK-LANE, which describes the violence visited upon two disreputable and cowardly tailors by a heroically aggressive London woman. Here, the tune’s associations hover over the song, though the only direct textual reference to its more normal sphere of influence is Betty’s threat  to have the tailors ‘pressed’ for the King’s service. Her patriotism is implied by the tune but almost absent from the lyrics. Occasionally, ‘Lilliburlero’ was also named on courtship ballads, and in Faint Heart never won fair Lady it reinforces the text’s aggressive masculinity with resonances from its previous outings. The popularity of the melody endured into the eighteenth century, and in An Excellent New Song of 1711 it was described, with ample justification, as ‘the Memorable Tune of Lilliburlero’.

The songs listed below were connected not only by their tune but also by direct textual echoes, only a few of which can be noted here. It is interesting that none of the ballads copied A NEW SONG in including so many refrains and so much distorted Irish. It seems likely that this material was so strongly characteristic of the big hit of 1688 that imitating it seemed somehow inappropriate. Subsequent ballad-makers therefore used most of the melody for more conventional text, often concentrating their refrains in the last line of each verse. Beyond this, there are plenty of intertextual references. In The READING Skirmish, for example, the refrain, ‘by Chreest and St. Patrick, we all go down’ recalls a line form A NEW SONG: ‘By Chreist and St. Patrick the Nation’s our own’ (there are also several other points of contact between these two ballads). In The False-hearted GLOVER, the expression, ‘Yet faith he is fitted, and not to be pitty'd’, is similar to ‘I never was pitty’d, but faith I have fitted’ in The Chancellors Resolution (this has the effect of associating the hated Judge Jeffreys with a comical artisan whose big mistake was to marry a woman known to her friends as ‘Foggy-ars’d Nan’). Several ballads also use similar verbal constructions at similar points in the melody, including ‘was ne’r so...’, ‘Protestant Boys...’ and ‘by my shoul’ (an Irishman’s expression of delight or despair).

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

Songs and Summaries

NB: The ‘new Irish Tune’ to which The SUCCESS of Two English Travellers was set in c. 1686 may have been the same melody that later became known as ‘Lilli burlero’. There is some uncertainty, however, and we have therefore not included in the list below any of the additional songs that named ‘Two English Travellers’ as a tune. These can be found instead in the notes on The SUCCESS of Two English Travellers.

A NEW SONG: To an Excellent IRISH Tune, much in Request (A. B., 1688). Pepys 4.312; EBBA 21974. Politics – domestic, foreign affairs, controversy, satire, Tories/Whigs; Religion – Catholic/Protestant; Humour – verbal, mockery; News – political; Emotions – excitement, scorn. An anti-Catholic ballad featuring political gossip among Irishmen who believe that James II has turned the tide in their favour.

The READING Skirmish: Or, The Bloody Irish Routed by the Victorious Dutch... To the Tune of, Lilli borlero (J. D., 1688). Pepys 2.345; EBBA 20964. Politics – domestic, foreign affairs, celebration; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, Christ/God, saints, heresy, church, purtagory; Violence – civil war, between states; Emotions – fear, despair; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; Humour – mockery, verbal; Places – English, nationalities; Death – execution, warfare. A song in which Irish Catholic soldiers, fighting for King James against William of Orange, lament their defeat by Dutch forces at Reading.

West-Country TOM Tormented, OR, Vexed to the Heart by the News-Mongers of the Town... To the Tune of Lilli borlero (J. Wolrah, 1688-89). Crawford 545; EBBA 32977. Society – urban life, rural life; Politics – domestic, controversy, obedience; Emotions – confusion, anger; Employment – crafts/trades; Bodies – clothing, injury; Royalty – praise, criticism; Recreation – alcohol; Humour – misunderstanding, mockery; Violence – interpersonal; News – political; Places – English. A man from the west feels out of place in London, where people talk incessantly about matters of state and get cross with him because he refuses to participate.

Faint Heart never won fair Lady: OR, Good Advice to Batchelors How to Court and Obtain a Young Lass. To the Tune of Lilli burlero (J. Millet, 1688-92). Pepys 3.21; EBBA 21015. Gender – courtship, sex, masculinity, femininity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Bodies – physique/looks;  Emotion – longing; Environment – landscape; Recreation – walking, food. Men who wish to ‘court and obtain’ a maiden are here advised to be generous and persistent, refusing to take no for an answer.

The False-hearted GLOVER; OR, Fool and Knave well Fitted. To the Tune of, Lilli Burlero (P. Brooksby. J. Deacon, J. Blare, J. Back, 1688-96). Crawford 1011; EBBA 33626. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity, adultery/cuckoldry; Employment – crafts/trades; Humour – bawdry, mockery; Bodies – looks/physique; Economy – money. A foolish glover could have married the desirable and prosperous Mary but, through his own errors, ends up marrying and being cuckolded by ‘Foggy-ars’d Nan’.

Couragious BETTY Of CHICK-LANE: Giving an Account of a fearful Battle between her and two thumping Taylors... To the Tune of, Lili-burlero (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare and J. Back, 1688-96). Pepys 4.294; EBBA 21956. Gender – femininity, masculinity; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; Humour – extreme situations/surprises, mockery; Bodies – looks/physique, injury;  Emotions – anger, fear; Employment – crafts/trades; Places – English; Society – urban life. A formidable young London woman is provoked in the street by two tailors and, in retaliation, humiliates them with a display of physical power and aggression.

SHINKIN's Misfortune: / Or, The Poor Welsh Taylor Kidnapt for stealing a Goose, Leek, and a Cock-Gelding. To the Tune of Teague and Sawney: or, Lilliburlero (J. Deacon, 1688-99). Crawford 1051; EBBA 33646. Crime – robbery/theft, punishment; Humour – mockery, verbal; Environment – animals, crops; Recreation – food, fairs/festivals, games/sports; Violence – punitive; Economy – livings; Bodies – clothing, nourishment; Employment – crafts/trades. A thieving Welsh tailor with a comedy accent is finally brought to justice for stealing food, and he resolves that in future he will do nothing worse than con his own customers.

The Chancellors Resolution: OR, His Last Sayings a little before his Death. To the Tune of, Lilli borlero (‘Printed in the Year 168[9?]’). Pepys 2.278; EBBA 20892. Politics – domestic, controversy; Bodies – health/sickness; Crime – prison; Death – illness, execution; Royalty – general. The disgraced Lord Chancellor of James II (the infamous Judge Jeffreys) is about to die of an illness in prison, so he reflects on recent events and boasts that he is cheating the hang-man of his fees.

The Kingdoms Joy for the Proclaiming King William and His Royal Consort Queen Mary In the Throne of ENGLAND. Tune, Lilli Burlero (J. B., 1689). Pepys 2.272; EBBA 20886. Royalty – praise; Politics – celebration, domestic, Royalist; Religion – Catholic/Protestant; Emotions – joy, patriotism; Family – children/parents. A song that welcomes William and Mary to the throne, and praises them for defeating popery and saving the rights of English people.

THE Protestant’s Satisfaction; OR, The Joy and Glory of HAMPTON-COURT... To the Tune of, Protestant Boys shall carry the day (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, J. Back, 1689). Pepys 2.264; EBBA 20877. Emotions – joy; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Religion – Catholic/Protestant; Royalty – priase; Recreation – alcohol, music, public festivity; News – domestic, international;  Politics – celebration, Royalist; Economy – money. A ballad that celebrates the birth of a son to the future Queen Anne and her husband, George of Denmark, interpreting it as a further blow to the Catholic faction.

UNDAUNTED London-DERRY: OR, The Victorious Protestants constant Success against the proud French and Irish Forces. To the Tune of, Lilli borlero (J. Deacon, 1689). British Library C.40.m.10.(116). Death – warfare; Emotions – pride; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; Environment – buildings; News – international; Places – Irish; Politics – domestic, foreign affairs; Religion – Catholic/Protestant; Royalty – praise; Violence – between states, political. This describes the siege of Londonderry, highlighting the capacity of its brave Protestant residents to resist and repulse all attempts by the French and Irish to conquer them.

The Protestant Courage; OR, A brief account of some hundreds of Valliant Sea-men, who daily comes in to serve Their Majesties, against the Forces of the French King. Tune is, Lilli borlero (J. Deacon, 1689-99). Pepys 4.209; EBBA 21871. Employment – sailors/soldiers; Politics – celebration, foreign affairs, Royalist, power; Gender – masculinity; Emotions – pride, excitement, patriotism; Royalty – praise; Recreation – music; Religion – Protestant nonconformity; Places – English; Environment – sea. A celebration of the brave men from all over England who join up to fight for their monarchs and their nation against the French enemy.

DUBLIN'S Deliverance: OR, The Surrender of DROGHEDA... To the Tune of, Lilli burlero (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, J. Back, 1690). Pepys 2.303; EBBA 20920. Politics – celebration, domestic, foreign affairs, Royalist, Tories/Whigs; Royalty – praise; Emotions – joy, patriotism, excitement; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; Violence – civil war, between states; Environment – landscape; News – political; Recreation - musicPlaces – Irish. This describes and celebrates King William’s recent victories in Ireland against local and French forces.

Teague and Sawney: OR, The Unfortunate Success of a Dear-Joy's Devotion by Saint PATRICK's Cross,  BEING Transform'd into the De'els Whirlegig. To the Tune of Lilli burlero (imprint missing, c. 1690?). Crawford 1433; EBBA 34125. Places – nationalities; Humour – mockery, misunderstanding, extreme situations/surprises; Emotions – confusion; Environment – buildings; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, saints, prayer; Bodies – injury. An Irishman and a Scotsman, seeing a windmill for the first time, argue over whether it is the cross of St. Patrick or St. Andrew, but they realise it is neither when one of the blades strikes the Irishman as he prepares to pray.

The Discovery of the New Plot: OR, A brief Account of ROME's old treacherous Trade continued... To the Tune of Lilli burlero (Charles Bates, 1691). Pepys 2.369; EBBA 20989. Politics – plots, controversy, domestic, foreign affairs, Royalist, treason, Jacobite; Crime – treason; Death –execution; Religion – Catholic/ProtestantEmotions – anger, patriotism; Royalty – praise; Bodies – clothing; News – political. This reports on recent Catholic plots against King William and warns those involved that they will be brought to justice, earning the dubious  right ‘to dye in their Shooes’ (by execution, in other words).


The tune was also nominated regularly on white-letter ballads of the late seventeenth century, and the themes covered are consistent with those set out above. See, for example, ENGLANDS Hopes, OR, Look to't TEAGUE, BEING A Preparative beaten, against the French and Irish Rebells (1689).

‘Lilli burlero’ was also named regularly in song-books, and again the theme of political support for the regime of William and Mary is to the fore. In one song, the original mock-Irish refrain becomes instead ‘One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty and Eight’, a line that is repeated forty-eight times in twelve verses (A Second collection of the newest and most ingenious poems, satyrs, songs, &c,  1689).

An engraved song-sheet, printed in 1688, stands out from the bundle because it appropriates the tune for a witty text that supports James II and opposes the imminent invasion from the Netherlands. This was A New Song upon the Hogen Mogen’s, and one surviving copy displays a handwritten annotation reading ’17. Nov. 1688. Agt [Against] ye Dutch’. It is written in the same format as the hit ‘Lilliburlero’ ballad and its frequently repeated refrain strings together a series of Dutch names for comic effect: ‘Hogen, Mogen, Hogen, Mogen, Sutterkin, Hogen, Herring, Van Dunk’. It also includes the memorable threat, ‘For then, I fack, your Orange we’ll squeez[e]’.

The melody is also mentioned in passing, usually with humorous intent, by several authors of the period. One of Thomas Shadwell’s characters refers scornfully to a local music-master who can ‘teach one to twinkle out Lilly burlero upon an old pair of Virginals’ (The scowrers a comedy, 1691). And a text of 1689 imagines the unpopular Judge Jeffreys making his will in a prison cell after his failed attempt to flee when William of Orange reached London. In this satirical testament, Jeffreys asks ‘that my Funeral Anthems be all set to the Tune of old Lilli burlero, that never to be forgotten Irish Shiboleth, in Commemoration... of 200,000 Hereticks, that formerly Danced off to the the said Musical Notes’. Jeffreys’ role in ordering the executions of many participants in the earlier Monmouth Rebellion (1685) is referred to again when he asks that his funeral anthems be ‘Sung by a train of eight hundred Orphans of my own making in the West’ (The Chancellor’s Examination & Preparation for a Trial, 1689).          

Finally, the melody’s popularity endured for centuries. It has been used for nursery songs (‘There was an old woman tossed up in a blanket/basket...’), regional whistling songs and as a jingle on the BBC World Service to mark the passing of the hours. The extent to which it retains its early-modern political and religious associations when deployed in these ways is an issue beyond the scope of the present project. Certainly, the tune holds onto its original resonances when used by Northern Irish loyalists in the present day for the singing of ‘The Protestant Boys’ (a song that shares its refrain with a ballad of 1689 entitled ‘The Valiant Souldier’s Resolution to Conquer Tyrconnel and his Irish Crew’: printed in The Protestant Garland, 1689). And these resonances were also prominent when, at the end of the Second World War, a group of Scottish pipers reportedly played the tune triumphantly in St. Peter’s Square, Rome, with the intention of ‘gieing Popie a blaw’. The Pope may not have known quite what the tune implied, and he was said to be ‘delighted with it’.

Christopher Marsh


Appollo’s Banquet (1690), no. 45.

Henry Atkinson, Tune-book , Northumberland Record Office, MS MU 207, p. 75.

Robert Carr, The Delightful Companion (1686), page marked ‘F’.

The Chancellor’s Examination & Preparation for a Trial (1689).

A collection of ayres compos’d for the theatre (1697), p. 31.

Thomas D’Urfey, A Choice Collection of New songs and ballads (1699), p. 4.

Henry Fielding, Don Quixote in England (1734), p. 33.

Denis Johnston, Nine rivers from Jordan (1955), p. 294.

John Playford, The Dancing-Master (1653), p. 42 (‘Hockley in the hole’).

                Dancing-Master (1690), p. 156 (‘Lilliburlero’).

The Protestant Garland (1689), A7v-B1v.

A Second collection of the newest and most ingenious poems, satyrs, songs, &c,  1689), pp. 18-20.

The Second Part of Musick’s Hand-maid (1689), E3v-4r.

Thomas Shadwell, The scowrers a comedy (1691), p. 10.

Claude Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and its Music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 449-55.

John Thomas, Alawon John Thomas. A Fiddler’s Tune Book from Eighteenth-Century Wales, ed. Cass Meurig (Aberystwyth, 2004), no. 290.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Akimbo man with raised hand

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 frequently issued during the last four decades of the seventeenth century. Several distinct woodblocks existed, suggesting that printers commissioned their own copies because of high demand for the Akimbo man with raised hand. He must have been thoroughly familiar to ballad-consumers by the time he appeared on A NEW SONG (there were also several white-letter editions of the ballad but these did not include pictures).

With his feet set far apart and his hand on his hip, this individual conveyed self-confident and aggressive masculinity to seventeenth-century viewers. Most of the time, he was associated via the accompanying texts with characters who were broadly admirable (lusty young men, honest good fellows who loved a drink, patriotic Protestants, and so on). Not all ballad-makers admired his conduct, however, and he also appeared on one moralising song that warned young men against worldliness. Sometimes, he seems to have grown too big for his boots, for he also featured on occasional ballads about men who were tricked by prostitutes, outwitted by other men, or who fell into crime (though it is not always easy to decide which of the characters in a ballad he stands for – viewers must make up their own minds). Several of the songs connect with sex, an association that was probably encouraged by the hint of a pelvic thrust conveyed by the image.

As always with such familiar pictures, the interpretations placed upon Akimbo man with raised hand by individual viewers depended heavily on the roles in which they had encountered him before. He could be both admired and mocked, a combination of possibilities that suited him to the brash, misguided, Irish masculinity that was portrayed in A NEW SONG. Clearly, this was a very successful image, and a measure of printer-propriety is suggested by the fact that two of the slightly different versions are apparently marked with the initials of their owners.

Songs and summaries

The Two Constant Lovers: Or, A Pattern of true love exprest in this Dialogue between Samuel and Sarah (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Roxburghe 3.126-27; EBBA 30438.  Gender – courtship, masculinity; Family -  siblings; Violence – interpersonal; Emotions – love, anger, joy.  A courting couple face the disapproval of the woman’s ‘friends’, and the man does battle with her brother in order to win her hand (picture placement: he appears beneath the title with ‘A H’ on his hat and to the left of another of our featured woodcuts, the Welcoming woman).

A Friends advice, In an excellent Ditty, Concerning the variable Changes in this life (imprint missing, 1665-74).  Pepys 2.18; EBBA 20643. Society – friendship; Morality – general; Religion - general. A meditation, delivered by one friend to another, on the mutability of fortune and the transience of life (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, gesturing towards a man who faces outwards).

The Country Miss new come in Fashion; Or, A farewel to the Pockifi'd Town Miss (W. Thackeray, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79).  Roxburghe 3.90-91; EBBA 30588. Gender – courtship, femininity; Society – rural life, urban life, criticism; Bodies – health/sickness, physique/looks, nourishment; Emotions – love, disdain. A man sings the praises of his honest, natural country sweetheart, comparing her very favourably with the pox-ridden, self-seeking women of the town (picture placement: he stands on the right side of the sheet, in between the initials ‘R’ and ‘I’, and next to a woman with a raised hand).

The Married-mans best Portion: Or, A new Song plainly setting forth the Excellency, and incomparable Worth of a good Wife (W. Thackeray, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79). Pepys 4.84; EBBA 21748.  Gender – marriage, femininity; Economy – household; Employment – female. This describes the invaluable comfort and support that a man can receive from a constant, loving wife (picture placement: the woodcut, initialed ‘R I’, appears on the right side of the sheet, alongside a woman whose hand reachers towards his).

The Trappand Taylor: Or, A pretty Discovery, how a Taylor was cheated, and Married to a beggar-wench (W. Thackeray, T. Passinger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79).  Pepys 3.74; EBBA  21074.  Bodies – clothing; Employment – prostitution; Gender – courtship, sex, femininity, masculinity; Humour – deceit/disguise, misunderstanding, mockery; Society – urban life, rural life. A tailor is tricked into marriage by a well-dressed prostitute whom he takes to be a young country gentlewoman (picture placement: he stands over the opening verses, with the initials ‘R I’ arranged around him, and he gestures towards a well-dressed woman).

The Careless Drunkards (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Pepys 4.238; EBBA 21898.  Recreation – alcohol, good fellowship; Gender – masculinity, marriage; Emotions – joy; Bodies – health/sickness. This proclaims the value of manly drinking in the here and now, rather than saving one’s money for the future (picture placement: he appears, with the initial ‘A H’ on his hat, alongside woodcuts of various carousers).

The Good Christians Admonition to all Young-Men, Not to Forget their State of Mortality (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Pepys 2.35; EBBA 20659.  Morality – general; Religion – moral rules, body and soul; Society – old and young, rich and poor; Death – general. A forceful reminder, aimed at young men, that it is irresponsible and short-sighted to love the things of this world (picture placement: he stands, with the initials ‘A H’ on his hat, over the opening verses and next to a sober-looking family).

THE Merry Maid of Shoreditch, Her Resolution and Good Counsel to all her Fellow Maids (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Pepys 4.94; EBBA 21758. Gender – courtship, marriage, masculinity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Places - English.  An unmarried woman estimates that only 10% of men are honest and that a single life is therefore preferable (picture placement: he appears, with the initials ‘A H’ on his hat, next to two young women).

A New SONG of Moggie's Jealousie: OR Jockies Vindication (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Roxburghe 2.358; EBBA 30798.  Gender – courtship, femininity; Places – Scottish; Emotions – anger, love. A lover’s tiff over Jockey’s alleged inconstancy -  but the couple are on good terms by the end (picture placement: he appears on the right side of the sheet, alongside a woman with an upturned palm).

A true sence of Sorrow: OR THE Poor York-shire-Man protected by Providence (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Pepys 2.53; EBBA 20677.   Economy – hardship, household; Emotions – despair, joy; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Gender – marriage; Morality –social/economic; Society – neighbours, rich and poor.  A poor man, whose wife is in child-bed, begs for relief and, after some disappoinments, is generously helped by a slightly mysterious gentleman dressed all in black (picture placement: he stands beneath the title, alongside a Countryman with staff and a mother holding two babies).

The Lovers mad fits and fancies (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80).  Pepys 3.117; EBBA 21124.  Gender – sex, masculinity, femininity; Humour – bawdry; Recreation – alcohol; Emotions – despair, longing. A man, drunk with lust, bewails his inability to resist the physical charms of a particular woman (picture placement: he stands over the opening lines and gestures towards a woman who holds a vase of flowers).

The Lamentation of John Musgrave, Who was Executed at Kendal, for Robbing the King's Receiver (J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1682-84).  Pepys 2.160; EBBA 20779. Crime – robbery; Death – execution, godly end, result of immorality; Religion – moral rules, sin/repentance, Christ; Emotions – sorrow; Morality – general; Recreation – good fellowship; Nature – animals. A young man expresses great sorrow for his crime and prepares himself to face his execution (picture placement: he appears over the opening verses with the initials ‘A H’ on his hat, and his gesture directs us towards a hanging man on the other side of the sheet).

Tom and Will. OR, The Shepars Sheepfold (J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84).  Pepys 3.231; EBBA 21244.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Emotions – longing, love, sorrow; History – romance; Employment – agrarian. Two shepherds love the same woman but both are disappointed when her beauty wins her a place at court (picture placement: on the left he appears  – with ‘A H’ on his hat – next to a Roman scene with naked woman, and on the right he can be seen again – now without the initials – alongside a woman with upturned palm).

The Country MAIDENS Lamentation For the Loss of her TAYLOR (R. Kell, 1684-94). Pepys 3.343; EBBA 21358. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity, sex; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Bodies – clothing; Society – urban life; Crime – robbery; Employment – crafts/trades; Humour – bawdry; Morality – romantic/sexual; Places – English. An innocent country maiden moves to London where she is seduced by a deceiving tailor who impregnates her, steals her clothes and then runs away (picture placement: he appears, with the initials ‘R I’, alongside a Welcoming woman and a Country couple with houses on hills).

Down-right Honesty; OR, A Discourse between two well-meaning Protestants (J. Bissel, 1684-1700).  Pepys 4.333; EBBA 21996. Politics – domestic, controversy; News – political, international; Religion – Catholicism/Protestantism; Society – neighbours, criticism; Emotions – anxiety; Nature – animals. Two neighbours call for Protestant unity and lament the dissemination of pamphlets critical of the government and the church (picture placement: he appears alongside a man with hat in hand and an Alehouse scene with candle at centre).

Voyage to Virginia: OR, The Valiant Souldiers Farewel to his Love (I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1685). Pepys 4.159; EBBA 21821.  Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Emotions – love, sorrow; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Politics – foreign affairs; Places – extra-European. A young man explains to his sweetheart why he must depart for Virginia, and the two lovers say their sad goodbyes (picture placement: he appears, with the initials ‘A H’ on his hat, beneath the title and alongside a woman with a fan).

THE Cheater Cheated: OR, Sauce for the GOOSE is good for the GANDER (P. Brooksby, 1685-88). Pepys 4.279; EBBA 21940.  Recreation – games; Society – rural life, urban life; Humour – deceit/disguise; Gender – masculinity; Morality – social/economic; Places – English. The countryfolk of Staffordshire outwit visiting Londoners over the betting that accompanies a foot-race (picture placement: he appears, with ‘A H’ on his hat, alongside two images of other men).

[D]ICK the Plowman Turn'd Doctor.  OR, The Love-sick Maiden Cured (C. Dennisson, 1685-88).  Pepys 3.170; EBBA 21182.  Gender – courtship, sex; Humour – bawdry, misunderstanding, mockery; Emotions – longing. A maiden is sick with lust, but Dick takes a little time to realise that only he has the cure (picture placement: he stands over the opening verse, with the initials ‘A H’ on his hat, and gestures towards a woman).

The Doting Old DAD, OR, The Unequal Match betwixt a Rich Muckworm of Fourscore and Ten, and a Young Lass scarce Nineteen (P. Brooksby, 1685-88).  Roxburghe 2.122-23; EBBA 30607. Gender – courtship, marriage, adultery/cuckoldry, sex; Humour – bawdry, extreme situations/surprises; Society – old/young; Bodies – health/sickness, adornment; Disability – physical; Emotions –disdain, frustration; Recreation – fashions. A young woman refuses to be courted by a wealthy old man because of his impotency but she is persuaded to change her mind when her mother describes, from personal experience, the pleasures of adultery (picture placement: he appears beneath the title with ‘A H’ on his hat, to the right of two women, each of whom extends a hand in his direction).

A New delightful Ballad, Called, Debauchery Scared; OR, THE Beggar-wnch trund [sic] into a Devil (J. Bissel, 1685-88).  Pepys 4.306; EBBA 21968.   Gender – sex; Humour – bawdry, deceit/disguise, misunderstanding, mockery; Society – rich and poor, rural life, urban life; Recreation – alcohol; Religion – angels/devils; Places – English. A country gent comes to London and is tricked by his own servant into spending the night with a beggar-woman (picture placement: he appears, witht the initials ‘R I’, beneath the title and alongside a man with eyes downcast).

The Sorrowful Wife: OR, LOVE in a TUB (J. Blare, 1685-88). Pepys 4.116; EBBA 21780.  Gender – marriage, adultery; Humour – deceit disguise, bawdry; Morality – romantic/sexual; Employment – crafts/trades. A wife, frustrated with her unfaithful husband, decides to have sex with their apprentice, but the man of the house returns home and finds the young man hiding in a barrel (picture placement: the woodcut, initialed ‘R I’, appears on the right of the sheet, alongside a cellar full of barrels and a woman with a fan).

The wonderful Praise of a Good Husband (no imprint, 1685-88).  Roxburghe 2.532; EBBA 31035. Family – children/parents; Gender – courtship, masculinity; Recreation – good fellowship. A mother advises her daughter on choosing between the two main varieties of man (picture placement: he appears alongside a How-de-do-man).

A NEW SONG: To an Excellent IRISH Tune, much in Request (A. B., 1688). Pepys 4.312; EBBA 21974. Politics – domestic, foreign affairs, controversy, satire, Tories/Whigs; Religion – Catholic/Protestant; Humour – verbal, mockery; News – political; Emotions – excitement, scorn. An anti-Catholic ballad featuring political gossip among Irishmen who believe that James II has turned the tide in their favour (picture placement: he stands beneath the title, in between two other men who adopt similar stances).

The Brewers Answer; Or, Their Vindication, against those Aspersions that hath been put upon them concerning the Double Excise (J. Millet, 1688-92).  Pepys 4.337; EBBA 22000. Employment – crafts/trades; Economy – taxation, hardship, prices/wages; Morality – social/economic; Politics – controversy, foreign affairs; Recreation – alcohol; Emotions - anxiety. The brewers explain why they are not to blame for the price of ale, appealing to people to bear in mind the costs that attend their business (picture placement: he appears, with ‘A H’ on his hat, alongside one man holding a barrel and another smoking a long pipe).

A Pleasant JIGG Betwixt Jack and his Mistress (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, J. Back, 1688-96).  PB III.14; EBBA 21007. Gender – marriage, adultery, sex; Humour – bawdry, domestic/familial; Emotions – longing, anger; Employment – apprenticeship/ sevice. An apprentice is seduced by his mistress, then punished by his master (picture placement: he turns towards a woman with upturned palm).

The Undutiful Daughter of Devonshire (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, and J. Back, 1688-96).  Pepys 3.388; EBBA 21404.  Family – children/parents; Gender – courtship; Emotions – love, sorrow; Recreation – alcohol, games.  An aged father laments the fact that his only daughter is in love with a good-for-nothing and will not take advice (picture placement: he appears, with ‘A H’ on his hat, alongside a woman whose hand reaches out towards him).

ENGLANDS Deliverance, OR, God's Gracious Mercy at the time of Misery (A. B., 1689).  Pepys 2.65; EBBA 20690. Politics – celebration, domestic, foreign affairs; Religion  - divine intervention; Emotions – joy. This offers thanks to God (and others) for saving the nation from the dangers it faced under James II (picture placement: he appears, with ‘A H’ on his hat, beneath the title and alongside a man who turns towards him).

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

As noted in the Song history, Jacobite writers immediately attempted to counter A New Song's anti-Irish xenophobia with anti-Dutch stereotypes in A New Song upon the Hogen Mogen’s [MS Date 17 Nov 1688: EBBA 34814]. How far they succeeded is unknown.

A sequel to A New SongThe Second Part OF Lill---li burlero bullen a-la was published after the Revolution, possibly not until March 1689. Most importantly, this ‘second part’ expressly responded to the meaning of the original chorus by claiming that an old prophesy had indeed ‘come to pass’.

A New Song continued to resonate and inspire political songs long after the Revolution. For example, in 1696, yet another ‘sequel’ emerged: Vox Clero.  Lil-ly bur-le-ro, or, The Second Part of a Merry New Ballad (London, 1696) and many contemporary song books included the tune or verses (See Featured tune history).

One of the potentially pirated editions of A New Song appeared on the verso of An Answer TO The Baffl’d Knight, printed in c. 1690 for the bookseller Charles Bates. An Answer was the second part of a comic three-part series, in which a beautiful woman repeatedly defeats an old knight who tries to compromise her virtue. This juxtaposition could easily have lent itself to a political reading of the comic song, with James II as the ridiculous and lecherous old knight, and the fair lady representing his former Protestant subjects and their lucky escapes.

Angela McShane

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A/ NEW SONG:/ To an Excellent IRISH Tune, much in Request.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


HO, Brother Teague, dost hear de Decree,

Lil-li Burlero Bullen a--la;

Dat we shall have a new Debittie,

Lili-li Burlero Bullen a--la:

Lero, lero, lero, lero, Lilli burlero bullen a--la;

Lero, lero, lero, lero, Lilli burlero bullen a--la.


Ho, by my Shoul, it is a T_____t,

lilli burlero &c.

And he will Cut all de English T____t,

lilli, &c.

lero, lero, &c.

lero, lero, &c.


Though, by my Shoul, de English do Prat,

lilli, &c.

De Law’s on dare side, and Chreist knows what,

lilli, &c.

lero, lero, &c.

lero, lero, &c.


But if Dispence do come from de Pope,

lilli, &c.

Weel hang Magna Carto & demselves in a Rope,

lilli, &c.

lero, lero, &c.

lero, lero, &c.


And the good T____t is made a Lord,

lilli, &c.

And he with brave Lads is coming aboard.

lilli, &c.

lero, lero, &c.

lero, lero, &c.


Who all in France have taken a Swear.

lilli, &c.

Dat day will have no Protestant H___r,

lilli, &c.

lero, lero, &c.

lero, lero, &c.


Oh! but why does he stay behind?

lilli, &c.

Ho, by my Shoul, 'tis a Protestant Wind,

lilli, &c.

lero, lero, &c.

lero, lero, &c.


Now T_______l is come ashore,

lilli, &c.

And we shall have Commissions gillore;

lilli, &c.

lero, lero, &c.

lero, lero, &c.


And he dat will not go to M___ss,

lilli, &c.

Shall turn out and look like an Ass,

lilli, &c.

lero, lero, &c.

lero, lero, &c.


Now, now de Hereticks all go down,

lilli, &c.

By Chreist and St Patrick the Nations our own,

lilli burlero bullen a--la;

Lero, lero, lero, lero, lilli burlero bullen a--la,

lero, lero, lero, lero, lilli burlero bullen a--la.


Printed for A.B.

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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: 7

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 (7).

New tune titles generated: 'Lilli-burlero' (18 ballads).

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: no known pictures but EBBA 31637 includes  musical notation (inaccurate) with the text of the first verse interlined.

Pre-1640 bonus: no.

POINTS: 14 + 13 + 0 + 0 + 42 + 30 + 5 + 0 = 104

[On this ballad, see also Angela McShane, Political Broadside Ballads of Seventeenth-Century England, no. 904X].

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

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