44  The Lamentation of Master Pages wife of Plimmouth, who being enforced by her Parents to wed him against/ her will, did most wickedly consent to his murther [Pepys 1.126-27]

Author: Deloney, Thomas (d. in or before 1600)

Recording: The Lamentation of Master Pages wife of Plimmouth

Bodies - looks/physique Crime - murder Crime - punishment Death - execution Death - godly end Death - unlawful killing Emotions - anger Emotions - longing Emotions - sorrow Family - children/parents Gender - courtship Gender - femininity Gender - marriage Gender - masculinity Morality - familial Morality - romantic/sexual News - convicts/crimes Places - English Religion - Christ/God Religion - sin/repentance Society - old/young Violence - interpersonal

Song History

This ballad, usually attributed to Thomas Deloney, was sparked by a celebrated murder case in Elizabethan Plymouth (Devon). In the late 1580s, Eulalia Glanvill (‘Granfield’ in the song) was pressured by her parents into marrying an older man, Master Page, despite the fact that she was already betrothed to George Strangwidge. By 1591, the lovers could see no solution to their problem other than murdering the unwanted husband, which they did with the assistance of hired killers named Thomas Stone and Robert Priddis or Preidyox (these are perhaps versions of ‘Prideaux’). Priddis was one of Page’s own household servants.

All four individuals were apprehended shortly after the murder and interrogated by Sir Francis Drake and other Devon dignitaries.They were subsequently tried and convicted at the Assizes held in Barnstaple in March 1591. Within days, the conspirators were hanged on Castle Green and their burials on 20th March were noted in the parish registers. The three men were buried in Barnstaple but Eulalia Page was laid to rest at Bishop’s Tawton (her committal, a little oddly, is recorded in both registers).

A pamphlet, published later in 1591, discussed the case in detail, and our ballad probably appeared around the same time. Surviving copies of the song are all from the next century, however, and it is impossible to know which text was created first (see Related texts).

Ballads about wives who killed their husbands have been studied more intensively by recent scholars than any other category of early-modern popular song (see Chess, Dolan, Kane, Randall, Stavreva and Wiltenburg). It is notable, therefore, that The Lamentation of Master Pages wife (along with the other closely related songs on the sheet) is the only broadside about a murdering wife that has made it onto our list of hits. It appeared in multiple editions, and collectors were keen to preserve copies several decades after the events described in the song. On our featured edition, perhaps we can even see the inky fingerprints Samuel Pepys himself, imparted to the page as he glued the ballad into his volume. Or were the smudges created by John Selden, whose ballad collection passed in substantial part to Pepys? Either way, the collector appears to have made a mark on each side of the severed ballad, then subsequently created mirror images by closing the book before his fingerprints were dry.

The reasons for the ballad's success invite discussion, for the ballad was in several important aspects rather different from other songs about ‘wives with knives’ (as Stuart Kane has termed them). For one thing, Eulalia Page never wields a weapon, nor are the gory details of the killing by strangulation discussed at any point. Strikingly, Deloney also allows Eulalia the time and space to explain her conduct and perhaps even to earn a measure of audience sympathy. Eulalia, speaking for herself (through the ventriloquism of the author), combines the requisite remorse with a powerful argument against the forcing of marriage by greedy and insensitive parents.

It would, of course, have been possible to hear the song critically – Eulalia could be understood as seeking to defend the indefensible – but other killer-wives are typically represented by ballad-makers in far more hostile terms and it is hard to resist the conclusion that Deloney is encouraging us at least to imagine the feelings of the doomed dame of Plymouth. The ballad is marked by a compelling exploration of Eulalia’s interior self, and terms such as ‘fancy’, ‘will’, ‘mind’, ‘heart’, ‘conscience’ and ‘soul’ are conspicuous.  The author’s commitment to the fabrication of emotional authenticity is also suggested by the subtitle’s dubious claim that the Eulalia’s first song was ‘Written with her owne hand a little before her death’. In short, she is not just another husband-killer. 

This broadside actually presents three distinct but similar songs, all set to the same tune. George Strangwidge sings the middle one but it is Eulalia who steals the show. She sings two songs to George’s one and develops her thoughts far more fully than he does. It is a curious fact that Eulalia’s two songs essentially cover the same ground, and one wonders whether there were originally two competing broadsheets. In the manuscript collection of songs now known as the Shirburn ballads, it is notable that only the second and third songs that appear on our featured sheet are transcribed, perhaps indicating that the first song was issued separately until the early seventeenth century. The decision to combine all three songs on one sheet might also help to explain why no publisher ever found space for a woodcut picture. 

Intriguingly, the Devon murder case also provides other clues suggestive of the possibility that Deloney was not alone in feeling a certain sympathy for Eulalia Page. She was evidently hanged along with the men, rather than being burned – a penalty that could have been imposed on her as a ‘petty traitor’. The men were cut down and buried in Barnstaple – not their place of residence - but Eulalia’s body was taken home to Bishop’s Tawton.

Many years later, Thomas Taylor wrote briefly about the case, noting that Eulalia and her sweetheart George were, ‘as the common voice went..., privately contracted together before her inforc’d Marriage’. He added, ‘But howsoever as they were convicted of the murder, so for the same they were condemn’d, and publikely executed’. The implication seems to be that Eulalia and George, despite their guilt, were perhaps a little unlucky to have lost their lives. And it might even be worth noting that the number of baby girls named ‘Eulalia’ certainly did not fall in Devon and Cornwall as a result of the case: a search on the Ancestry website brings up only two Eulalias for the period 1571-91 but twenty for 1591-1601. What should we make of this?

Modern minds may find it hard to comprehend the early-modern popularity of a broadside that, with its lugubrious melody, takes over twenty minutes to sing. There were numerous editions throughout the seventeenth century and on into the eighteenth. In the early years, London’s publishers even changed the date of the case – to 1601, then 1609 (as on our featured edition) – in order to imply the freshness of the events. Perhaps the surprisingly rich psychology of Deloney’s composition can help us to explain the success of these songs. We should also note that the writing is colourful, though Deloney’s taste for alliteration sometimes borders on the obsessive (‘A wife I was that wilfull went awry’).

The ballad clearly contributed to the fame of the case. It is mentioned regularly in seventeenth-century texts, and Taylor’s comment – quoted above – was not alone in implying the possible influence of the relatively sympathetic ballad. In 1635, for example, Henry Goodcole remarked that Eulalia had ‘suffered with her sweet-heart George Strangwich’, also noting that the two were already betrothed when she was made to marry Master Page: ‘her husband being old, she young, by which may be apprehended the misery of inforced marriage’. This is a lesson rather more likely to have been learned from the ballad than from the pamphlet of 1591 (see Related texts).

The case retained its power over the people of Plymouth into the nineteenth century. In a book first published in 1836, ‘Mrs Bray’ reported that, some years previously, grave-diggers had come across the coffin of Master Page while breaking the ground for another burial, near the communion table in the church of St. Andrew’s. When the coffin was opened, ‘the remains were found in a remarkably perfect state, but crumbled to dust on being exposed to the air. So great was the curiosity of the populace, that during several days hundreds pressed in to gratify it, and every relic that could be stolen, if but a nail from the coffin, was carried off’.

Christopher Marsh



Anon, Sundrye strange and inhumaine Murthers, lately committed (1591), B2r-B4v.

Mrs. Bray, The borders of the Tamar and the Tavy (1836; new edition in 2 vols., 1879), vol. 2, p. 154.

Thomas Deloney, The works of Thomas Deloney, ed. Francis Oscar Mann (Oxford, 1912), pp.  482-85 and 599.

Simone Chess, ‘ “And I my vowe did keepe”: oath making, subjectivity and husband murder in “murderous wife” ballads’ in Patricia Fumerton and Anita Guerrini (eds.), Ballads and broadsides in Britain, 1500-1800 (Farnham, 2010), pp. 131-48.

Andrew Clark (ed.), The Shirburn ballads (Oxford, 1907), pp. 109-13.

Frances E. Dolan, ‘Tracking the petty traitor across genres’ in Patricia Fumerton and Anita Guerrini (eds.), Ballads and broadsides in Britain, 1500-1800 (Farnham, 2010), pp. 149-72.

Find my past: www.findmypast.co.uk/

Henry Goodcole, The adultresses funeral day in flaming, scorching, and consuming fire (1635), B1r.

Stuart A. Kane, ‘Wives with knives: early modern murder ballads and the transgressive community’, Criticism 38 (1996), pp. 219-37.

Christopher Marsh, ‘Best-selling ballads and the female voices of Thomas Deloney’, Huntington Library quarterly 82.1 (Spring, 2019), pp. 127-54.

Christopher Marsh, ‘The woman to the plow; and the man to the hen-roost: wives, husbands and best-selling ballads in seventeenth century England’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6th series, 28 (2018), pp. 65-88.

Parish registers of Barnstaple (1590/1): https://talesfromthearchives.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/the-tale-of-ulalia-page/

Martin Randall (ed.), Women and murder in early modern news pamphlets and broadside ballads (Aldershot, 2005).

Kirilka Stavreva, ‘Scaffolds into prints: executing the insubordinate wife in the ballad trade of early modern England’, Journal of popular culture 31 (1997), pp. 177-88.

Thomas Taylor, The second part of the theatre of Gods judgments (1642), pp. 94-95.

Joy Wiltenburg, ‘Ballads and the emotional life of crime’ in Patricia Fumerton and Anita Guerrini (eds.), Ballads and broadsides in Britain, 1500-1800 (Farnham, 2010), pp. 173-86.

Philip Wyot, diary, in John Roberts Changer, Sketches of the literary history of Barnstaple (Barnstaple, 1866), p. 97.

Back to contents

Featured Tune History

To the tune of ‘Fortune’ (standard name: Fortune my foe)

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

‘Fortune my foe’ was so well known that notation appears in dozens of sources, both printed and manuscript. There are instrumental settings for lute, virginals, cittern and lyra viol, and several of the period’s most celebrated composers – John Dowland and William Byrd, for example – applied their talents to the tune. This was a remarkably solid melody, and renditions are striking in their consistency over time and space.

Examples can be found in the following sources (and in many more besides): William Ballet’s lute book (c. 1600); the Fitzwilliam virginal book (late sixteenth and early seventeenth century); Clement Matchett’s virginal book (c.1612); Robert Creighton’s virginal book (probably compiled in the 1630s); and William Corkine’s Ayres, to Sing and Play (1610). The melody was also well known on the continent, where its English origins were recognised. An unusual variant in a major key appears in Oliver Pygge’s Meditations (1589), where the melody is nominated for a song about England’s deliverance from the Spanish Armada. The version used on our recording can be found in William Barley’s New Booke of Tabliture (1596).

Other titles for this melody included ‘Aim not too high’, ‘Doctor Faustus’, ‘A lesson for all true Christians’, ‘The Virgins ABC’, ‘The Young Mans ABC’, ‘The godly mans instruction’, ‘A letter for a Christian family’ and ‘Kings Tryal’.

Echoes (an overview)

‘Fortune my foe’ was almost certainly the best-known melody in seventeenth-century England, with the possible exception of a few of the most common psalm tunes. Almost eighty different songs are listed below, all of them designed for singing to this extraordinarily successful four-line composition. These include seven from our list of best-sellers.

Equally remarkable is the thematic consistency of the texts for which the tune was chosen. They fall into two main categories. The ballad that generated the original tune-title was a romantic song entitled A sweet Sonnet, in which a forlorn male lover is reassured by his no-nonsense sweetheart. This song remained popular for over a century, and a small number of other ballads also adopted the romantic theme (see, for example, The Young-Mans A. B. C.).

In numerical terms, however, the melody’s original mood of romance was overwhelmed by dozens of ballads that focused on sin and repentance. The predominance of this theme explains why authors sometimes referred to ‘Fortune my foe’ as ‘that solemne Tune’ (The penitant traytor) or ‘that preaching tune’ (Brome, Rump). The tune feels intrinsically sober and serious, and it seems likely that this must have helped to drive the development of sternly moral associations alongside those already established.

The dangers of sin and the pressing need for repentance were emphasised in several different and often overlapping ways: by describing the providential judgements that were visited upon individual sinners; by introducing us to dying Christians who demonstrated how to make a good exit or, in some cases, how not to; by stressing the immorality of society in general terms and advising everyone to reform their conduct immediately; by describing meteorological ‘wonders’ and interpreting them as warnings from God; and, most notably, by portraying named convicts as they awaited execution and, more often than not, putting words in their mouths that highlighted the errors of their ways and urged others to take heed. These songs amplified one another to a remarkable extent.

The Lamentation of Master Pages wife of Plimmouth appears to have played a crucial role in blending the themes of love and sin, thus opening the way for a transition – never quite complete but striking nonetheless  – from one to the other (indeed, the ongoing success of the song may have owed something to its capacity to resonate in both areas).

As time passed, and as the songs piled up on top of one another, the reputation of ‘Fortune my foe’ as a ‘hanging tune’ must have ensured that it conveyed a mood of doom even when applied to other sorts of song. When, for example, The Godly Mans Instructions are sung to the tune, the text’s many moral injunctions are arguably backed by a melodic reminder concerning the consequences of disobedience. And on the rare occasions when the ballad was named for more optimistic ballads about the deeds of exemplary individuals, it is as if we are simultaneously being encouraged to imitate a positive role model and warned about the dangers of failing to do so. There is also the interesting possibility that a performance of the romantic Sweet Sonnet in c. 1670 would have felt rather different from a rendition of the song in c. 1570 because of the steady accumulation of doom-laden associations in the intervening decades.

There are also some direct intertextual echoes that connect the songs together, though they are perhaps not as precise and numerous as those that marked the careers of some of our other tunes (‘Flying Fame’, for example). The influence of the original Sweet Sonnet over subsequent songs can be seen in the occasional habit of referring to ‘Fortune’ in the opening line. The Araignement of John Flodder and his wife, for example, kicks off with the words, ‘Brave Windham late, whom Fortune did adorn’, an opening gambit that recalls the start of The Lamentation of Master Pages wife: ‘Unhappy she whom Fortune hath forlorn’. This line was also echoed in A Looking-Glasse for Maids, which begins, ‘Unhappy I, who in this prime of youth’.

Several songs also follow A sweet Sonnet in including a verse, usually somewhere in the middle, in which the same words are used repetitively to begin several successive lines (see, for example, The Judgment of God shewed upon on Jhon Faustus and Save a Theefe from the Gallowes). An excellent song shares with The Young-Mans A. B. C. and The Virgins A. B. C. not only a tune and an alphabetic structure but an approach to the letter Q: the relevant lines are ‘Quench fond desires and pleasures of the flesh’,‘Quench thou the flames of this my burning breast’ and ‘Quench in thy self all lusts inflaming fires’. Beyond these examples, there is a general feeling of intertextual connection in the placement of words such as ‘lament’ and ‘amend’ at the ends of lines, often rhymed with recurring and equally sober terms like ‘repent’ and ‘end’.

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

Songs and Summaries

A sweet Sonnet, wherein the Lover exclaimeth against Fortune for the loss of his Ladies favour... To the Tune of Fortune my Foe (Registered 1565-66; J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84). Pepys 1.512-13; EBBA 20243. Emotions – despair, joy, love; Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity. A man sings in sorrow because he thinks his sweetheart has abandoned him, but she responds with a message of reassurance.

A mournfull Dittie on the death of certaine Judges and Justices of the Peace... To the tune of Fortune (William Wright, 1590). British Library, Huth 50.(62.). Death – illness, burial/funeral; Emotions – anxiety; Employment – professions; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance; Morality – general, social/economic; News – sensational; Politics – Royalist; Royalty – praise; Places – English. This describes the mysterious deaths of several eminent judges and gentlemen, and warns us of all of the need to administer justice fairly to all.

The Lamentable and Tragicall History of Titus Andronicus... To the tune of Fortune my Foe (registered 1594; F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63). Folger Library L252a. History – ancient/mythological, heroism; Politics – domestic, power, plots; Family – children/parents, siblings; Gender – adultery/cuckoldry, sexual violence, femininity, masculinity; Crime – murder, rape, false witness; Violence – interpersonal, sexual, punitive, between states; Bodies – injury; Death – warfare, unlawful killing, suicide; Disability – physical; Emotions – anger, hatred, love, despair; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Environment – landscape; Places – European, travel/transport, nationalities. This tells the bloody story of Titus Andronicus, the war-hero who returned to Rome only to become locked in a deadly feud with the nasty new Empress and her malevolent minions.

A Godly Song, entituled, A farewell to the Worlds... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe (Henry Gossen, 1601-40). Roxburghe 1.136-37; EBBA 30084. Religion – Bible, body/soul, Christ/God, faith, heaven/hell, sin/repentance, church; Death – godly end; Bodies – health/sickness; Recreation – music; Family – children/parents; Gender – marriage; Places - English. A parish clerk prepares to meet his maker, demonstrating the composure, repentance and faith that define a good death.

Saint Bernards Vision.  OR,  A briefe Discourse (Dialogue-wise) betweene the Soule and the Body of a damned man newly deceased... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe (J. Wright, 1602-46). Roxburghe 1.376-77; EBBA 30253. Religion – body/soul, angels/devils, Christ/God, heaven/hell, sin/repentance; Death – result of immorality, burial/funeral; Bodies – health/sickness; Emotions – anger, despair, hope; History – ancient/mythological; Recreation – music; Morality – general. The narrator, recalling a dream, describes an acrimonious encounter between a corpse and the immortal soul that previously inhabited it, each blaming the other for the death and damnation that they have suffered.

The Judgment of God shewed upon on Jhon Faustus... TO THE TUNE OF Fortune my Foe (surviving printed copies are later in date but the song was transcribed by hand in 1603-1616). Shirburn ballads, XV. Religion – conjuration, angels/Devils, body/soul, sin/repentance, Christ/God, heaven/hell; History – recent; Emotions – greed, despair; Violence – diabolical; Death –diabolical; Environment – wonders, buildings; Places – European, travel/transport; Employment – professions; Society – education. A German doctor of divinity turns away from Christ and pledges his soul to the Devil, with horrific consequence.

A Joyfull new Ballad of the late victorye obtained by my Lord Mount Joy... TO THE TUNE OF Fortune my Foe (printed copies have not survived but the ballad was transcribed by hand in the early seventeenth century, 1603-16). Shirburn ballads, XXXI.  This celebrates Mountjoy’s recent victories against the Earl of Tyrone and his Spanish allies in Ireland, and thanks God for fighting on the English side.

The Lamentation of Master Pages wife of Plimmouth... to the tune of Fortune (composed 1590s; H. Gosson, 1609-40). Pepys 1.126-27; EBBA 20054. See also Shirburn ballads, XXVI and XXVII. Crime – murder, punishment; Death – execution, unlawful killing, godly end; Emotions – sorrow, anger, love, longing; Family – children/parents; Gender – courtship, marriage, femininity, masculinity; Society – old/young; Morality – romantic/sexual, familial; Bodies – looks/physique; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English; Violence – interpersonal. Three songs on one sheet in which Eulalia Page and her lover, George Strangwidge, explain why they murdered Eulalia’s husband and prepare themselves for execution.

[The] complaint and lamentation of Mistresse Arden of [Fev]ersham in Kent... To the tune of, Fortune my Foe (C. W., 1610-38). Roxburghe 3.156-57; EBBA 30458. Crime – murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Gender – marriage, adultery/cuckoldry; Bodies – looks/physique, injury; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Family – siblings; Places – English, travel/transport; Recreation – food, hospitality; Society – neighbours; Violence – interpersonal, domestic. Mistress Arden describes how she killed her husband for the love of another man, aided by two rather incompetent assassins called ‘Shakebag’ and ‘Black Will’.

Save a Theefe from the Gallowes and hee'l hang thee if he can: / Or, The mercifull Father, and the mercilesse Sonne... To the tune of, Fortune my Foe (Edw[ard Wright], 1611-56). Manchester Central Library Blackletter Ballads 1.56; EBBA 36258. Family – children/parents, kin, inheritance; Violence- interpersonal, punitive; Crime – murder, general; Death – unlawful killing, execution, result of immorality; Religion – Bible, sin/repentance, faith, Christ/God; Morality – familial; Emotions – greed, despair; Society – old/young; Places – English. Two repentant songs by a young gentleman who murdered his uncle and framed his own loving and kind father for the crime.

The Araignement of John Flodder and his wife, at Norwidge... To the tune of Fortune my foe (John Trundle, c.1615). Pepys 1.130-31; EBBA 20056. Environment – buildings; Places – English; Crime – arson, punishment; Death – execution; Emotions – sorrow, anger, horror; Society – rich/poor; Employment – begging; Religion – church, charity. The town of Windham in Norfolk speaks out against the wandering beggars who set fire to it, causing catastrophic damage.

Anne Wallens Lamentation, For the Murthering of her husband... To the tune of Fortune my foe (Henry Gosson, c. 1616). Pepys 1.124-25; EBBA 20053.  Crime – murder, prison, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – domestic, punitive; Gender – marriage; Society – neighbours, urban life; Emotions – anger, sorrow, guilt; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, prayer; Employment – crafts/trades; Morality – familial; Places – English; Recreation - alcohol. A woman, awaiting execution, expresses her remorse for the murder of her husband and urges other women to learn the lessons and control their tempers.

The lamentable burning of the Citty of Cork (in the Province of Munster in Ireland) by Lightning... To the tune of Fortune my foe (E. A, c.1622). Pepys 1.68-69r; EBBA 20267. Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance, Christ/God, church; Places – Irish; Emotions – fear, horror, confusion; Morality – general; Environment – buildings, weather; Family – children/parents,siblings; Gender – marriage; Society – urban life. This describes a lightning strike and subsequent fire in Cork, interpreting it as a warning from God of the need for us all to repent and turn to Him.

An excellent song, wherein you shall find, Great consolation for a troubled mind... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe  (registered 1656, but the tune title that derived from the ballad, ‘Aim not too high’, was in existence from c. 1625, so the song must have been in circulation by this date; F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Pepys 2.63; EBBA 20688. Religion – moral rules, sin/repentance, charity, prayer, Christ/God, heaven/hell, angels/Devils, Bible, body/soul, general; Morality – general, social/economic; Society – rich/poor. An ABC ballad that offers extensive instruction on living a godly and moral life.

An example for all those that make no conscience of swearing and forswearing, Shewing Gods heavy Judgement upon a Maid-servant in London… To the tune of, Aime not too high (J. W, c.1625). Folger Shakespeare Library. Religion – sin/repentancy, Bible, body/soul, Christ/God, divine intervention, faith; Bodies – health/sickness; Crime – robbery/theft; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Society – criticism; Morality – general; Death – result of immorality; Emotions – wonder; Environment – buildings; News – sensational; Places – English; Recreation – sight-seeing. A warning against swearing and forswearing, centring on the example of a thieving servant who is now rotting in prison as a result of her sins.

A discourse of Mans life. Comparing him to things that quickly passe... To the tune of Ayme not too high (H. G., c. 1625-29). Roxburghe 1.70-71; EBBA 30049. Death – general; Environment – animals, birds, flowers/treesk crops, weather, seasons; Religion – prayer, pilgrimage, Bible; Employment – crafts/trades; Royalty – praise. A meditation on the transitory nature of life, concentrating on imagery drawn from the natural world.

By the directions of the Scriptures, and the examples of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ... To the Tune of Ayme not too high (Francis Grove, 1625-62). Manchester Central Library - Blackletter Ballads 1.5; EBBA 36014. Morality – social/economic; Religion – Bible, charity, Christ/God; Society – criticism, rich/poor; Bodies – clothing, nourishment, health/sickness; Crime – prison; Economy – hardship/prosperity; Family – children/parents; Emotions – sympathy. This complains that the rich are failing in their charitable duties to the poor, and urges everyone to follow Jesus’ example in looking after those who are suffering.

The Despairing Lover, Whose minde was much tormented, Because of his True-Love Hee thought hee was prevented... To the tune of, Aime not too high (F. Coules, 1625-80).  Roxburghe 1.82-83; EBBA 30057. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Death – suicide, heartbreak; Environment – animals, sea, weather; Places – European, extra-European, travel/transport; Emotions – despair, joy, love. A man feels rejected by his sweetheart and prepares to kill himself, but she intervenes in the nick of time and a loving outcome is assured.

The godly end, and wofull lamentation of one John Stevens... To the tune of Fortune my foe (H. Gosson, c. 1632). Roxburghe 1.490-91; EBBA 30327.  Crime – treason, prison, punishment; Death – execution; Violence – punitive; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Politics – treason; Family – children/parents; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance, faith, Bible; Emotions – sorrow; Bodies – injury; Places – English, travel/transport; Royalty – praise. A young man, awaiting execution for high treason, expresses deep remorse and warns others to avoid wickedness.

The lamentation of Edward Bruton, and James Riley... To the tune of, Fortune my Foe + Another Bloody murther committed neere Ware... To the same Tune (H. G., c. 1633). Roxburghe 1.486-87; EBBA 30324. Crime – murder, robbery/theft, punishment; Death – execution, unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, Catholic/Protestant, heaven/hell; Emotions – guilt, sorrow; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English. The first song presents the repentant words of two murderers as they await execution, and the second tells the story of a gang of robbers/murderers who meet the same fate.

[Title missing]... pitty, to all people that shall heare of it… To the tune of, Aime not too high (imprint missing, c. 1633).  Manchester Central Library, Blackletter ballads, 1.50; EBBA 36041. Environment – buildings; Emotions – fear, horror; Family – children/parents; Gender – marriage; History – recent; News – general; Places – English; Religion – prayer. The text is damaged but its clear purpose is to describe a recent fire that caused panic and destroyed numerous properties on London Bridge.

The Young-Mans A. B. C.... The Tune is, Aim not too high (registered 1634; J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684-86). Pepys 1.508-09; EBBA 20241. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Emotions – despair, hope, confusion, hatred, disdain; Bodies – health/sickness. A male youth is in terrible romantic torment and begs his insensitive sweetheart to ‘Resolve me off or on/ and there’s an end’.

Death’s loud Allarum: OR, A perfect description of the frailty of Mans life with some admonitions to warne all men and women to repentance... To the tune of, Aime not too high (John Wright the Young[er], 1634-45). Roxburghe 1.78-79;  EBBA 30054. Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, divine intervention, heaven/hell; Death – general; Emotion – anxiety; Family – children/parents, siblings; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol, food; Society – rich/poor; Violence - divine. A reminder that death can strike at any minute and that it is therefore vital that all people prepare themselves and amend their sinful lives before it is too late.

A wonderfull wonder, Being a most strange and true relation of the resolute life, and miserable death of Thomas Miles... To the tune of, Aime not too high (John Wright junior, c. 1635). Roxburghe 1.482-83; EBBA 30320. Death – result of immorality; Recreation – food; Religion – prayer, Christ/Jesus, sin/repentance, divine intervention; Morality – general; Bodies – nourishment, health/illness; Environment – wonders, weather; Places – English. This warns us against swearing and forswearing, using the example of a man who expressed an opinion, hoping never to eat again if it wasn’t true, and then choked to death at his next meal.

A cruel murther committed lately upon the body of Abraham Gearsy... To the tune of Fortune my Foe (John Wright Junior, c.1635). Roxburghe 1.488-89; EBBA 30326. Crime- murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Economy – money; Emotions – horror; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; Religion – angels/devils, Christ/God, sin/repentance, prayer; Family – children/parents; Morality – general; News – convicts/crimes; Society – friendship, neighbours; Places – English. The tale of two brothers, executed for the murder of a man to whom one of them owed money.

Youths Warning-peice. In a true Relation of the woefull Death of William Rogers of Cranbrooke in Kent an Apothecary... To the Tune of Doctor Faustus (A. K, 1636). Roxburghe 1.434-35; EBBA 30294.  Religion – Christ/God, faith, clergy, church, heaven/hell; Bodies – health/sickness; Employment – apprenticeship/service, crafts/trades; Death – result of immorality; Economy – money, livings; Emotions – sorrow, horror; Family – children/parents; Morality – general, social/economic; Society – education; Places – English; Recreation – alcohol; Royalty – praise. A cautionary tale about a promising and godly young apothecary who fell into bad company, turned away from religion, and died in a state of panic regarding the future of his immortal soul.

A Lamentable List, of certaine Hidious, Frightful, and Prodigious Signes… To the tune of Aime not to high (Thomas Lambert, 1638).  Wood 402(67, 68). Environment – wonders, animals, birds, weather; Religion – divine intervention, Christ/God, sin/repentance, Bible; Places – European; Bodies – health/sickness; Emotions – fear, wonder; Violence – divine; History – recent; Morality – general; News – international, sensational; Recreation – music. A musical list of all the strange happenings in Germany during the last twenty years, and a warning to all Christians of the need to repent.

A Description of this age… The Tune is, Aim not to high (Richard Burton,1640-79). Douce Ballads 1(60b). Society – criticism, friendship, neighbours, rich/poor; Morality – general, familial, romantic/sexual, social/economic; Religion – body/soul, Christ/God, sin/repentance, church, charity; Bodies – clothing, health/sickness, adornment; Death – general, godly end; Economy – money, hardship/prosperity; Emotions – anxiety, frustration; Recreation – alcohol, fashions; Employment – professions, prostitution; Family – children/parents, siblings; Gender – marriage. The author expresses alarm at the sinfulness of the age and urges repentance, while reminding all people that they are destined to die.

A Looking-Glasse for Maids. OR, The Downfall of two desperate Lovers... The tune is, Aim not too high (Tho. Vere, 1644-82) Euing 163; EBBA 32063. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Death – duelling/jousting, tragedy; Violence – interpersonal; Recreation – food, music; Environment – birds; flowers/trees; Bodies – clothing, nourishment, injury; Emotions – jealousy, anger, horror, despair, shame; Family – children/parents; Religion – Christ/God, prayer; Places – English.  A warning against wantonness and pride in a tale of two men who died fighting over a woman on Isle of Wight.

Three horrible Murthers... To the Tune of, Aime not too high: or Fortune my Foe (John Hammond, 1646). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 2.12; EBBA 36111. Crime - murder, theft; Death - unlawful killing, tragedy, execution; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; Justice - execution, imprisonment; Employment - sailors/soldiers, Emotions – fear, horror sorrow; Family – children/parents;  News – general; Places – English. A violent house-robbery near Winchester is thwarted by some passing soldiers, but not before several members of the family have been murdered. 

The penitant traytor or the humble Confession of a Devonshire gentleman, who was condemned for high treason, and executed at Tyborne for the same, in the Raigne of King Henry the third… You may sing this if you please. To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe (no imprint, 1647).  BL Thomason, 669.f.11[35]. Politics – controversy, dometic, Royalist, treason, plots, elections, parliament; Crime – treason; Death – execution; History – medieval, villainy; Humour – satire, deceit/disguise; Places – English. This is a black-letter ballad written in the satirical style that is more commonly associated with white-letter songs, and its tale about the treason of a medieval gentleman is really an attack upon current parliamentary politics.

The manner of the Kings Tryal at Westminster-Hall... The Tune is, Aim not too high (c. 1648; W. Thackeray and T. Passinger, 1687-88).  Pepys 2.204-05; EBBA 20816.  Crime – treason, punishment; Death – execution, godly end; Politics – controversy, domestic, treason; Royalty – authority, criticism; Violence – punitive; Emotions – sorrow; Family – children/parents. An account of the trial and execution of Charles I, setting out the charges laid, the king’s response, and his speech on the scaffold.

A True Relation, Of The great Floods that happened in many parts of England in December and January last... The Tune is, aim not to high (J. Clark, 1651-86?).  Roxburghe 3.236; EBBA 30875. Religion – Bible, Christ/God, divine intervention, sin/repentance, charity, church, prayer; Morality – general;  Society – criticism, rich/poor; Death – result of immorality; Environment – wonders, weather, buildings; Economy – hardship, prices/wages; Violence – divine/diabolical; Emotions – fear, guilt; Families – pregnancy/childbirth; Recreation – alcohol; Bodies – adornment, nourishment; Places – extra-European. The recent floods are described in graphic detail and interpreted as a warning from God that England must repent its sinful ways if it is to avoid even worse suffering.

The Virgins ABC, OR, An Alphabet of Vertuous Admonitions, for a Chast, Modest and well governed Maid... The Tune is, The young Mans A. B. C. (registered 1656; F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clark, 1675-80).  Euing 370; EBBA 31981.  Gender – femininity, courtship; Morality – general, romantic/sexual. A set of instructions on moral living, aimed at young women.

A Looking-Glass for all true Christians... The Tune is, Aim not too high (registered 1656; J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84).  Pepys 2.47; EBBA 20671.  Religion – sin/repentance, Bible, Christ/God, heaven and hell, moral rules; Morality – general;  Society – criticism, rich/poor; Emotions - sorrow. A comprehensive and urgent call to repentance for sinners of all sorts.

Dying Tears, OR Englands Joy turned to mourning for the loss of that Vertuous Prince, Henry Duke of Glocester... To the Tune of, Aim not too high (Charles Tyns, c.1660). Euing 65; EBBA 31748. Death – illness, burial/funeral; Royalty – praise; Emotions – sorrow; Politics – domestic, foreign affairs, Royalist; Religion – mortality,Family – siblings, children/parents; News – political; Bodies – physique/looks. This laments the death of Charles I’s third son, heaps praises upon him and reminds all listeners that they, like the dead duke, will pass away and must prepare urgently for eternity.

A most wonderful and sad judgement of God upon one Dorothy Mattley late of Ashover... The tune is, Fortune my Foe (W. Gilbertson, 1660-62). Wood 401(177). Death – providential; Economy – money; Emotions – horror, wonder; Religion – divine intervention; Violence – divine; Environment – landscape; News – sensational; Employment – female; Crime – robbery/theft; Places – English. A woman forswears herself, hoping that she will be swallowed into the earth if she stole money from a boy, and, because she is lying, the ground duly opens up and consumes her.

Newes from Hereford.  OR, A wonderful and terrible Earthquake... The Tune is, Aim not too high (F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661). Wood 401 (179). Environment – weather, buildings, crops, animals; Places – English; Emotions – horror, wonder, fear; Religion – divine intervention, Christ/God, sin/repentance, church; Violence – divine; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Morality – general; News – sensational, domestic; Death – providential. A call for national repentance, inspired by the extreme weather, unprecedented apparitions and peculiar births that have recently been afflicting Hereford.

The poor man put to a pinch... To the Tune of, The Description of this Age, or, Aim not to high (J. Conyers, 1661-92). Pepys 4.299; EBBA 21961. Economy – hardship/prosperity, money, livings, trade; Employment –crafts/trades, unemployment; Religion – Christ/God, prayer; Society – rich/poor; Family –children/parents;  Emotions – anxiety, sorrow, hope; Bodies – nourishment. A plea on behalf of the suffering poor, asserting that the difficult economic conditions are caused by our sins and that only God can make things better.

A Sad and True Relation of a great fire or two... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe, or Aim not too High (E. Andrews, 1662). Wood 401(189). Death – accident; Emotions – horror, sorrow; Environment – buildings; News – domestic; Places – English; Recreation – general; Religion - mortality; Employment – professions, crafts/trades; Family – children/parents. This tells the sad story of a devastating house-fire that killed a rich merchant, his family and their guests as they slept in their beds on a December night.

Truth brought to light. OR, Wonderful strange and true news from Gloucester... To the Tune of, Aim not too high (Charles Tyns, 1662). Wood 401(191). Crime – witchcraft, murder, robbery/theft; Death – execution; Violence – interpersonal; Family – children/parents, siblings; Gender –femininity; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Economy – money; Emotions – horror, wonder; Religion – conjuration/witchcraft, Christ/God; Society – friendship; Environment – sea, landscape; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English, extra-European, travel/transport. This presents the strange-but-true story of a Gloucestershire man who was presumed dead at the hands of a widow and her two sons, but who then reappeared, having instead been bewitched by the widow and transported by supernatural means to a rocky island off the Turkish shore.

A Warning for Swearers... Tune, Aim not too High (W. Thackeray, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79). Roxburghe 3.38-39; EBBA 30391. Religion – divine intervention, angels/devils, Bible, Christ/God, sin/repentance; Bodies – health/sickness; Crime – robbery/theft; Death – result of immorality, providential; Disability – physical; Emotions – horror, wonder; Employment – female; Morality – general; News – sensational; Places – English. Two cautionary tales about a man and a woman who, in separate parts of the country, forswore themselves and were instantly afflicted with terrible punishments by God.

A Lesson for all true Christians... Tune of, The Letter for a Christian Family (this song generated a new name for the tune - ‘A lesson for all true Christians’ - and must therefore have been in circulation before this additional title was used by others in 1670-79; J. C., W. T., and T. P., 1684-86).  Pepys 2.48; EBBA 20672. Religion  - Christ/God, Bible, prayer, sin/repentance, heaven/hell, moral rules, church; Death – illness; Bodies – health/sickness; Family – children/parents; Crime – robbery/theft, prison; Gender – marriage, sex; Economy – trade; Society – old/young; Recreation – alcohol. A ballad in ABC format that offers wide-ranging advice on religious, moral and social duties.

The Kentish WONDER: BEING A true Relation how a poor distressed Widow, in the Wild of Kent, was by the Providence of the Almighty, miraculously preserved in her Necessity... To the Tune of, Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Crawford 1392; EBBA 33918. Religion – prayer, divine intervention, Bible, Christ/God, faith; Family – children/parents, kin, siblings; Gender – femininity; Bodies – nourishment; Society – criticism; Economy – hardship/prosperity, household; Morality – social/economic; Crime – robbery/theft; Places – English. A poor widow prays to God and is miraculously enabled to keep her seven children alive for seven weeks on a single loaf of (burnt) bread.

The Godly Mans Instructions: OR, The Dying Mans last Words to his Children... To the Tune of, Aim not too High (Philip Brooksby, 1670-98). Beinecke – Michell-Jolliffe, 2000 Folio 6 272; EBBA 35932. Religion – moral rules, Christ/God, body/soul, heaven/hell, sin/repentance; Society – old/young; Death – illness; Family – children/parents; siblings; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol. A dying man warns his children and everyone else of the need to avoid the sins that abound in society if they are to hope for a place in heaven.

The Disturbed Ghost: OR, The Wonderful Appearance of the Ghost, or Spirit of Edward Avon... Tune Aim not two High, or Kings Tryal (Philip Brooksby, 1670-98). Douce 1(56b). Crime – murder, robbery/theft; Death – accident; Family – children/parents, siblings, kin; Religion – ghosts/spirits, sin/repentance; Violence – interpersonal; Economy – money; Emotions – anxiety, guilt, shame; Morality – general; Environment – flowers/trees; News – sensational; Places – English, travel/transport; Recreation – tobacco. The troubled ghost of a recently deceased man returns to Marlborough, where he asks his relatives to settle a monetary debt and also confesses to a murder that he committed several decades earlier.

A Godly Guide of Directions for true penitent Sinners in these troubled times… Tune is, Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.189; EBBA 30660. Religion – Bible, Christ/God, heaven/hell, sin/repentance, charity, church, mortality; Death – general, godly end; Emotions – frustration, anxiety, hope; Morality – general, social/economic. A song that expresses extreme concern about the sinfulness of society and urges everyone to mend their ways, leave their sins and turn to God.

The Great Assize; Or, Christ’s certain and sudden appearance to Judgment... To the Tune of, Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Roxburghe 1.132-33; EBBA 30082. Religion – Christ/God, heaven/hell, sin/repentance, angels/devils; Death – general; Family – children/parents, kin; Bodies – health/sickness; Environment – animals, flowers/trees; Recreation – general. A song that urges us not to love the things of this world, but instead to prepare for death, repent our sins and turn to God in the hope that we will end up in heaven rather than hell.

Great Brittains Arlarm to Drowsie Sinners in Destress... The Tune is, Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Roxburghe 2.203-03; EBBA 30669. Religion – Christ/God, mortality, prayer, divine intervention; Death – general; Morality – general, social/economic, romantic/sexual, familial; Society – criticism, old/young, rich/poor, neighbours; Emotions – frustration, sorrow, hope; Family – children/parents; Environment – flowers/trees, animals; Recreation – alcohol; Economy – money. This presents a stern warning about sinfulness, and argues that we can only avoid further heavy judgements from God if we repent and reform.

The Troubles of these Times, OR, The Calamities of our English Nation... To the Tune of, A Lesson for all true Christians (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.456; EBBA 30930. Religion – Christ/God, divine intervenetion, sin/repentance, prayer; Economy – hardship; Emotions – anxiety, guilt; Morality – general; Politics – foreign affairs; Society – criticism. A song that laments England’s current troubles – particularly warfare and economic hardship – and urges everyone to turn to God in true repentance.

The YOUTHS Guide... Tune of, A Lesson for all true Christians; Or, My bleeding heart (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Crawford 1014; EBBA 33629. Death – illness, godly end, providential; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, Catholic/Protestant, heaven/hell, Bible; Society – old/young; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents; Gender – sex; Morality – general; Places – English; Politics – plots; Recreation – alcohol. A young man on his deathbed exhorts us all, particularly those who are youthful, to heed the signs that God has recently sent, fly from sin and prepare for Judgement Day.

A Recollection of the Times.  OR Englands Looking-Glass... The Tune of, Aim not too high (E. Oliver, c. 1672-85). Bodleian 4o Rawl. 566(69). Religion – Christ/God, divine intervention, heaven/hell, sin/repentance, church; Violence – divine; Environment – buildings; Bodies – health/sickness; Death – illness; Economy – trade, extortion; Emotions – frustration, sorrow; Family – children/parents; Morality – social/economic; Places – English. This points out that God has sent England numerous warnings in the form of fire and pestilence but there is little evidence that people are endeavouring to repent their sins and lead more moral lives.

A Letter for a Christian Family. Directed to all true Christians to Read... To the Tune of, The Godly Mans Instruction  (registered 1675; J. C., W. T., and T. P., 1684-86).  Pepys, 2.33v; EBBA 20657.  Religion – moral rules, sin/repentance, Bible, Christ/God, church; Family – children/parents; Morality – general; Society – criticism, old and young, rich/poor; Recreation - fashions.  Comprehensive moral and religious guidance for all sorts.

The Hartford-shires Murder.  OR Bloody news from St. Albans… Tune of, Aim not too high; Or, Fortune my Foe (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80) . Bod Wood E 25 (103).  Crime – murder, robbery/theft; Death – unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal; Bodies – injury; Employment – agrarian; Environment – landscape, animals; Economy – money, trade; Emotions – fear, horror; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English, travel/transport; Religion – Christ/God. A gang of robbers attack two honest farmers, one of whom dies, and the criminals remain at large, despite the fact that the surviving farmer managed to raise the alarm.

A Discription of Plain-dealing, Time, and Death, Which all Men ought to mind whilst they do live on earth... To the Tune of, A Letter for a Christian Family (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Crawford 564; EBBA 32998.  Death – general; Emotions – sorrow; Employment – professions; Society – criticism; History – nostalgia, medieval; Morality – general; Gender – sex; Recreation – alcohol. This presents speeches by Plain-Dealing, Conscience and Time, each of whom complains that people nowadays pay them no attention, and it concludes with a stern address from Death who warns that all of us ‘to the Grave must go’.

A godly song for all penitent sinners In these Sinful Times... To the Tune of, A Lesson for all True Chrisians (F. Coles, T. Vere. J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80).  Pepys 2.50; EBBA 20674. Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, mortality, church, Catholic/Protestant, prayer, charity, faith, heaven/hell; Society – criticism; Death – general, accident; Emotions – frustration; Family – children/parents; Morality – social/economic, general. This argues that England has never been better served by preachers, yet the sins of society continue unabated and repentance is urgently required.

God’s great and wonderful work in Somerset-shire, the charitable Farmer miraculously Rewarded... The tune is aim not too High (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and John Clarke, 1676). Wood  276b(101). Environment – crops, wonders; Religion – charity, divine intervention, Bible, heroism, Christ/God; News – sensational; Economy – prices/wages, hardship/prosperity, rural/urban; Society – rich/poor, rural life;Employment – agrarian; Emotions – wonder; Places – English; Bodies – nourishment; Family – children/parents; Morality – general. A song about a generous farmer who sells his wheat below market price in order to help the suffering poor, despite the scorn of other wealthy men, and God rewards him with a bumper crop.

The Young Mans Counsellor... Tune of, Aim not to high (Richard Hardy, 1676-85). Roxburgh 4.47; EBBA 31330. Society – friendship, neighbours; Gender – courtship, marriage; Econony – prices/wages, extortion, money, trade; Employment – agrarian, apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents; Recreation – alcohol, games/sports; Religion – Christ/God; Morality – general. This offers extensive advice on moral living to young men who are just setting out in the world.

A Looking-Glass for Traytors, OR, High Treason Rewarded… Tune of, Aim not too high, Or, Fortune my Foe (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1678-80). Bodleian Library, Wood E25 (33). Crime – treason; Politics – plots, Royalist, domestic, treason; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, Christ/God, sin/repentance; Death – execution; Violence – punitive, political; Royalty – praise; Places – English; Emotions – anger, relief. A ballad about the trial and execution of Edward Coleman, convicted of high treason following his alleged involvement in the Popish Plot.

A Looking-glass for all true Protestants... To the Tune of, Papists aim not too High (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1679). Pepys 2.68; EBBA 20692.  Politics – plots, controversy, domestic, Royalist, treason; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, Bible; Royalty – general; Emotions – anger, fear, patriotism; Crime – treason. This offers thanks to God for deliverance from the Popish Plot and calls on all Protestants to be vigilant and repentant.

A Ballad of the Strange and Wonderful Storm of Hail, Which fell in LONDON on the 18th. of May 1680... To the Tune of, Aim not too High (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, c. 1680). Pepys 2.137; EBBA 20757. Environment – weather, wonders, birds, flowers/trees; Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance, Christ/God, Bodies – injury; Violence – divine; Emotions – horror, wonder; Family – children/parents; News – domestic, sensational; Places – English. This interprets an incredibly violent hail storm as a warning from God of the need to repent urgently and prepare for death.

A Caveat for Young-men... Tune, Aim not too high (M. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackery, and T. Passenger, 1680-81). Pepys 2.36; EBBA 20660. Death – general; Gender – masculinity; Religion – mortality, Christ/God, sin/repentance; Society – old/young, rich/poor. A warning to everyone – young men in particular – that death can strike without warning at any stage of life, and it is therefore essential to make spiritual preparation through repentance.

THE Dying Christians friendly Advice... To the Tune of , Aim not too high (C. Dennisson, 1680-95). Pepys 2.43; EBBA 20667. Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance, heaven/hell; Death – general; Crime – murder, immorality; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol; Gender – sex; Society - friendship. A ballad that urges us to turn from sin and place our whole trust in Jesus, knowing that he will prove a friend to those whose prayers are sincere.

ENGLANDS Miseries Crown’d with Mercy... To the Tune of Aim not too High (J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, c.1681). Pepys 2.225; EBBA 20837. Crime – treason, punishment; Politics – plots, treason, domestic, Royalist; Royalty – prasie; Violence – political; Emotions – horror, relief, patriotism; Religion – Christ/God, divine intervention; Family – siblings; Places – English, travel/transport; Death – execution. This expresses relief that God has intervened by preventing ‘the late horrid Plot’ against Charles II and his brother from achieving its terrible objective.

Witchcraft discovered and punished... To the Tune of, Doctor Faustus: or, Fortune my Foe (no imprint, 1682). Roxburghe 2.531; EBBA 31034. Religion – conjuration/witchcrafts; angels/devils, Christ/God, divine intervention; Crime – witchcraft; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – diabolical, punitive; Gender – femininity; Emotions – horror, relief; Bodies – physique/looks; Family – children/parents; Environment – animals; News – convicts/crimes; Places - English  An account of three condemned witches who have, for many years, been causing death and destruction in Devon.

THE Bloody-minded Husband; OR, The Cruelty of John Chambers... Tune is, Aim not too high (J. Deacon, 1684). Pepys 2.169; EBBA 20786. Crime – murder, punishment, prison; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal, domestic; Gender – masculinity, adultery/cuckoldry; Morality – familial; Religion – sin/repentanceEmployment – apprenticeship/service; Bodies – injury; Places – English. This tells the story of a vicious and lascivious husband who commissioned the murder of his wife because he preferred his harlot.

CRIMINALS CRUELTY... Tune is Aim not too high (J. Deacon, 1684). Pepys 2.153; EBBA 20771. Crime – murder, prsion, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Bodies – injury; Violence – interpersonal; Emotions – horror; Gender – masculinity, femininity; Morality – general; Environment – buildings; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English; Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance. This describes the crimes of John Wise who robbed and murdered a widow who lived alone in a cellar but is now brought to justice following the dying confession of one of his accomplices.

The Bloody VINTNER: OR, Cruelty Rewarded with Justice...To the Tune of, Aim not too high (no imprint, 1684). Bodleian Library, Douce Ballads 1(23bv). Crime – murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal; Gender – marriage, masculinity; Emotions – horror; Employment – apprenticeship/service, crafts/trades; Bodies – injury; Morality – romantic/sexual, general; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English. We are all warned to fear God by the example of a vintner who brutally murdered his young wife and who now faces execution.

Sad news from Salisbury... To the Tune of, Aim not too High (P. Brooksby, c.1685) . Euing 159; EBBA 31877. Environment – weather, landscape; Death – tragedy, accident; Religion – divine intervention, sin/repentance; Employment – crafts/trades, apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents; Bodies – injury; Disability – physical; Emotions – horror; Morality – general; News – domestic; Places – English. Freezing conditions have killed numerous people in the west country, and this ballad interprets the extreme weather as a warning to us all of the need to reform our sinful lives.

DISNY’S Last Farewell... To the Tune of, Fortune my Foe (J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1685). Pepys 2.154; EBBA 20772. Crime – treason, punishment; Death – execution; Politics – plots, treason, Royalism, obedience, domestic; Family – children/parents. William Disney expresses his remorse for having supported the Monmouth rebellion and prepares to face execution.

THE Young-Mans Repentance, OR, The sorrowful Sinners Lamentation... Tune is, Aim not too high (J. Back, 1685-88). Pepys 2.37; EBBA 20661.  Religion - sin/repentance, church, Christ/God, saints, faith, heaven/hell, prayer; Death – illness; Gender – sex; Society - old/young; Emotions – sorrow; Morality – general. A man who has lived an immoral life now faces death in a mood of profound regret, and he is keen to warn others about the folly of his ways.

The Downfal of Pride... To the Tune of Aim not too High (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, and J. Back,  1688-96). Pepys 2.59; EBBA 20683. Family – children/parents, siblings, kin, inheritance; Gender – femininity; Morality – familial; Economy – hardship/prosperity, money; Emotions – disdain, love; Bodies – adornment; Crime – prison; Employment – professions; Society - education. A wealthy couple dote on their oldest daughter while treating the younger one like a servant, but in the end she rescues her mother and sister with exemplary kindness when her father dies and the family falls on hard times.

GUN-POWDER Plot... To the Tune of Aim not too high (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, J. Back, 1688-96). Pepys 2.370; EBBA 20990. Politics – plots, parliament, treason; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, divine intervention; Crime – treason; Violence – political; Emotions – horror, relief, patriotism; History – recent, villainy; Royalty – praise. This recounts the story of Catesby and his fellow ‘Roman’ plotters, who attempted to blow up king and parliament during the reign of James I.

The Bedfordshire Prophesie... To the Tune of Bernard’s Vision, or, Aim not too high (no publisher named, 1690) . Pepys 2.69; EBBA 20693. Death – godly end, illness, providential; Politics – domestic, foreign affairs, Royalist; Religion – Christ/God, prophecy, sin/repentance, divine intervention; Royalty – praise; Family – general; News – sensational; Bodies – health/sickness; Places – English. A godly man dies for twelve hours but is then restored to life for seven days so that he can urge repentance and reassure the English that King William will prove victorious in Ireland.

Englands Tribute of Tears, On the Death of his Grace the DUKE of GRAFTON... Tune is, The Watch for a Wise Man’s Observation: Or, Aim not too high (J. Millet, c.1690). Pepys 2.365; EBBA 20984. Politics – foreign affairs, Royalist, obedience, celebration; Death – warfare; Violence – between states; Emotions – sorrow, pride, patriotism; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; Royalty – praise;  Bodies – injury; Religion – Catholic/Protestant, heaven/hell, heroism; News – international, political; Places – Irish. This brings the sad news of the death in battle of the Duke of Grafton, and it recounts his great deeds in the war in Ireland.

The Bloody Murtherer: OR, The Sorrowful Lamentation of James Selbee... To the Tune of, Aim not to High (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, and J. Back, 1691). Pepys 2.200; EBBA 20814. Crime – murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Emotions – sorrow; Gender – adultery/cuckoldry, sex, marriage; Employment – alehouses/inns, prostitution; Recreation – alcohol, hospitality; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance, prayer; Morality – romantic/sexual, general; Places – English. The repentant last words of a debauched man who murdered the landlady-prostitute with whom he had just had drunken sex.

The Distressed gentlewoman; Or, Satan’s Implacable Malice... The Tune is, Aim not too High (Imprint damaged: P. Brooksby, J. D and [?], c.1691). Pepys 2.74; EBBA 20698. Religion – church, Bible, angels/devils, clergy, Christ/God, prayer; Bodies – health/sickness; Employment – professions; Emotions – anxiety, hope; Gender – femininity; News – domestic; Places – English. This describes the on-going ordeal of a godly young woman who is currently possessed by a devil and prone to blasphemous outbursts that upset all witnesses.

A Looking-Glass for a Christian Family... The Tune is, Aim not too High (no imprint, later seventeenth century).  Roxburghe 2.283; EBBA 30740.  Religion – moral rules, sin/repentance, heaven/hell, divine intervention; Morality – general; Family – children/parents; Society – criticism. A call to repentance, emphasising the sinful state of the English nation.


An intriguing additional ballad that may well have been sung to the tune is Martin Parker’s The honest plaine dealing Porter: Who once was a rich man, but now tis his lot, To proue that need will make the old wife trot (c. 1630). The melody is here named ‘the Maids A.B.C.’ and our best guess is that this derives from an early and now lost edition of The Virgins ABC (listed above). If so, then it seems likely that Parker took the unusual step of deploying the melody for satirical effect. The mood of misery that was carried by ‘Fortune’ adds dark humour to a text in which a lowly London porter explains that, despite having fallen from wealth into poverty, he is entirely happy with his lot. Parker, a prolific ballad-writer, hardly ever wrote songs to the tune of ‘Fortune my foe’, and this therefore looks like a bubble-pricking comic intervention.

The melody was also nominated occasionally for the singing of white-letter ballads such as A Miraculous Cure for Witchcraft Or Strange News from the Blew-Boar in Holdborn (1670) and A New Scotch Ballad: Call’d Bothwel-Bridge (1679). It also provided the music for several songs that appeared in printed books. See, for example: ‘The most cruell murther of Edward the fifth’ in Richard Johnsons Golden Garland (1620);  ‘On the death of King JOHN who was poisoned by a Monk’ in the 1674 edition of Thomas Deloney’s Royal Garland of Love and Delight; and ‘A song against Fortune and those that have or doe defend the same’ in John Rhodes’ The Countrie Mans Comfort. Or Religious Recreations fitte for all well disposed persons (edition of 1637).

The last of these is the most interesting in that it confronts directly the reliance on fortune that is expressed in the original, romantic song. Rhodes, a clergyman, urges singers and listeners to trust in God instead. The trajectory of the melody during the seventeenth century, from romance towards religion and morality, would therefore have pleased him. Another churchman, William Slatyer, set two metrical psalms to ‘Fortune’, noting that it was one of ‘the most noted and common, but solemne tunes, every where in this Land familiarly used and knowne’.

And Richard Corbet, yet another man of the cloth, recommended that one of his poems was ‘to be sung or whistled, to the tune of the Medow Brow by the learned, by the unlearned to the tune of Fortune’, though his humorous intent is suggested by the fact that the lyrics do not fit our tune at all comfortably (Certain elegant poems, 1647). Ross Duffin has also shown that playwrights of the period sometimes composed songs for the stage that were probably intended for the melody.

Not surprisingly, references to this tune are also found in many other forms of literature. In Richard Brome’s The Antipodes (1638), a character called Joyless demonstrates his joylessness by merely whistling the melody. In 1682, a character quoted by Alexander Oldys noted the shame experienced by miscreants when they were  ‘sung about the Streets in a Ballad to the tune of Fortune my Foe’ (The Fair Extravagant). And Aphra Behn’s play, The Roundheads (1682), includes a scene in which a group of Royalists humiliate two former parliamentarians to the tune of Fortune, forcing one of them to dance (this is surely a black joke, for ‘Fortune’ was never a dance melody).

And the tune’s romantic associations seem to be in play when a character in D’Avenant’s Love and honour (1649) commends the woman he loves for her skill on the virginals, adding ‘I’d wish no more of heven/ Than once to hear her play Fortune my foe/ Or John come kisse me now’. Interestingly, the same pair of tunes was mentioned more disparagingly by the composer Matthew Locke, who scorned another musician’s new-fangled scheme for tuning the viol because it restricted players to ‘such lean stuff as Fortune my Foe, or John come kiss me now’. To Locke’s refined ears, this exceptionally successful melody clearly had its limitations.

Christopher Marsh


William Ballet’s lute book, Trinity College Dublin, MS 408, pp. 14 and 111.

William Barley, A New Booke of Tabliture (1596), F3r-v.

Aphra Behn, The Roundheads (1682), p. 56.

Alexander Brome, Rump, or, An exact collection of the choicest poems and songs (1662), p. 56.

Richard Brome, The Antipodes (1638), G1r.

Richard Corbet, Certain elegant poems (1647), p. 47.

William Corkine, Ayres, to Sing and Play (1610), F2v.

Robert Creighton, virginal book, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS Conservatoire Rés. 1186, fo. 24.

William D’Avenant, Love and honour (1649), p. 7.

Thomas Deloney, The Royal Garland of Love and Delight (1674), A5r-6r.

Ross W. Duffin, Some other note. The lost songs of English Renaissance comedy (Oxford, 2018), pp. 200-01, 395 and 536.

The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, ed. J. A. Fuller Maitland and W. Barclay Squire, 2 vols (Leipzig, 1894-99), vol. 1, p. 254 [CHECK]

Richard Johnson, The Golden Garland (1620), E3r-5r.

Matthew Locke, Observations upon a late book, entituled, An essay to the advancement of musick &c, written by Thomas Salmon (1672), p. 33.

Clement Matchett’s virginal book, ed. Thurston Dart (1957), p. 11.

Christopher Marsh, Music and Society in Early Modern England (2010), p. 238.

Alexander Oldys, The Fair Extravagant, or, the Humorous Bride (1682), p. 82.

Oliver Pygge, Meditations Concerning Praiers to Almighty God (1589), E2r.

John Rhodes, The Countrie Mans Comfort. Or Religious Recreations fitte for all well disposed persons (edition of 1637), B8v-C1r.

Claude M. Simpson, The British Broadside Ballads and its Music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 225-31.

William Slatyer, Psalmes, or songs of Sion turned into the language, and set to the tunes of a strange land (1631), table at back.

Back to contents

Related Texts

Writing in 1642, Thomas Taylor remarked that the Page murder case required only a brief mention in his book because, like other comparable episodes, it had already been ‘Staged, Book’d and Balleted, and disperst abroad through the Kingdome’. The short list of texts set out below demonstrates that he was absolutely right.

In 1591, a detailed account of the Page murder case appeared in an anonymous pamphlet entitled Sundrye strange and inhumaine Murthers, lately committed. Our ballad probably first appeared around the same time, but it is in no sense a condensed version of the longer account. In fact, there are significant differences of tone and detail between the two publications. Eulalia Page, as represented in the pamphlet, is a far more despicable individual than the one who gives such a persuasive account of herself in Deloney’s ballad. She first tries, unsuccessfully, to poison her husband (a ‘wicked & inhumain act’). Plan B involves the hired killers, and she corrupts her own household servant, Robert Priddis, by offering to pay him £140 for the dismal deed. Eulalia then sticks resolutely to the revised scheme, though George Strangwidge, her lover, gets cold feet and tries to call off the murder. The pamphlet also describes both the failed poisoning and the successful strangulation in considerable detail.

Furthermore, Eulalia thinks coldly and clearly in the immediate aftermath of the murder. She sends word to her dead husband’s sister, warning her that Page is mortally ill with ‘the Pull’ (palsy?) and urging her to make haste to the house if she wishes to see him before he dies. This ruse is part of Eulalia’s attempt to present Page’s death as a natural one. These acts are all tokens of ‘a most ungodlye mind’ and none of them is mentioned in the ballad. Moreover, Eulalia’s parents, though criticised in the pamphlet for forcing her into an unwanted marriage, are not blamed for subsequent events with anything like the force that characterises the hit song.

Indeed, comparison of the two sources enhances the ballad’s reputation as an account that went beyond the expected stereotype by presenting Eulalia Page as a complex character with the right and the ability to explain, if not justify, her actions. It is also interesting that the ballad was re-issued regularly for two hundred years but there seems to be no record of even a second edition of the pamphlet.

Both sources probably played a role in encouraging Ben Jonson and Thomas Dekker to write a play about ‘Page of Plymouth’ in 1599. This was staged by the Admiral’s Men at the Rose in the autumn and the high sum paid for female costumes suggests that a major success was anticipated (see ‘Lost plays’, below). The work is no longer extant but this inconvenient fact did not prevent Philip Collington from arguing that Shakespeare parodied it in The merry wives of Windsor (the claim is based primarily on the name ‘George Page’, perhaps a deliberate conflation of George Strangwidge and his victim, Master Page).

Christopher Marsh

Texts (in chronological order)

Anon, Sundrye strange and inhumaine Murthers, lately committed (1591), B2r-B4v.

The Lamentation of Master Pages wife of Plimmouth... To the tune of Fortune (probably composed c. 1591).

Ben Jonson and Thomas Dekker, ‘Page of Plymouth’ (lost play, 1599).


Philip D. Collington, ‘ “I would thy husband were dead”: The merry wives of Windsor as mock domestic tragedy’, English literary Renaissance 30.2 (2000), pp. 184-212.

English short title catalogue.

Lost plays database: https://lostplays.folger.edu/  

Thomas Taylor, The second part of the theatre of Gods judgments (1642), pp. 94-95

Back to contents

The Lamentation of Master Pages wife of Plimmouth, who being enforced by her Parents to wed him against/ her will, did most wickedly consent to his murther, for the love of George Strangwidge: for which fact/ she suffered death at Barstable in Devonshire. Written with her owne hand a little before/ her death.  To the tune of Fortune.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text. Verses that appear in square brackets have not been included in the recording].


UNhappy she whom fortune hath forlorne,

Despis’d of grace, that proffered grace did scorne,

My lawlesse love that lucklesse wrought my woe,

My discontent content did overthrow.


My loathed life too late I doe lament,

My hatefull deed with heart I doe repent:

A wife I was that wilful went awry,

And for that fault am here prepar’d to die.


In blooming yeares my fathers greedy minde,

Against my will a match for me did finde:

Great wealth there was, yea gold and money store,

But yet my heart had chosen long before.


My eye mislik’t my Fathers liking quite:

My heart did loath my Parents fond delight:

My grieved minde and fancy told to me,

That with his age my youth could not agree.


On knees I crav’d they would me not constraine,

With teares I cryde their purpose to refraine:

With sighes and sobs I did them often move,

I might not wed whereas I could not love.


But all in vaine my speeches still I spent,

My Fathers will my wishes did prevent:

Though wealthy Page possest my outward part,

George Strangwidge still was lodged in my heart.


I wedded was but wrapped all in woe,

Great discontents within my heart did grow,

I loath’d to live, yet liv’d in deadly strife,

Because perforce I was made Pages wife.


My chosen eyes could not his sight abide,

My tender youth did scorne his aged side,

Scant could I taste the meat whereon he fed,

My legs did loathe to lodge within his bed.


[Cause knew I none I should dispise him so,

That such disdaine within my minde did grow,

Save onely this that fancy did me move,

And told me still George Strangwidge was my love.]


But here began my downefall and decay,

In mind, I mus’d to make him straight away,

I that became his discontented wife:

Contented was he should be rid of life.


Me thinkes that heaven cries vengeance for my fact,

Me thinkes the world condemnes my monstrous act,

Me thinkes within, my conscience tells me true,

That for that deede hell fire is my due.


[My pensive life doth sorrow for my sinne,

For this offence my soule doth bleed within,

Yet mercy Lord, for mercy still I cry,

Save thou my soule and let my body dye.]


Well could I wish that Page enjoyed his life,

So that he had some other to his wife:

But never would I wish of low or hie,

A longer life and see sweet Strangwidge dye.


Ah woe is me that had no better grace,

To stay till he had run out Natures race:

My deed I rue, but more I doe lament,

That to the same my Strangwidge gave consent.


You Parents fond that greedy minded be,

And seeke to graft upon a golden tree:

Consider well, and rightfull Judges be,

And give your doome twixt Parents love and me.


I was their child and borne for to obey,

Yet not to wed where I no love could lay,

I maried was to mucke and endlesse strife,

But faith before had made me Strangwidge wife.


[Ah wretched world which cankred rust doth blind,

And cursed men that beare a greedy mind,

And haplesse I whom Parents did force so,

To end my dayes in sorrow, shame and woe.]


You Devonshire dames, & courteous Cornwal knights

That here are come to visit woefull wights:

Regard my griefe and marke my woefull end,

And to your Children be a better friend.


And thou my deare which for my fault must die,

Be not afraid the force of death to trie,

Like as we liv’d and lov’d together true,

So both at once let’s bid the world adue.


Ulalia thy friend doth take her last farewell,

Whose soule with thine, in heaven shall ever dwell,

Sweet Saviour Christ doe thou my soule receive,

The world I doe with all my heart forgive.


And Parents now, whose mournfull minds doe show,

Your hearts disease and inward heavie woe,

Mourne you no more, for hope my heart doth tell,

Ere day be done, that I shall be full well.


And Plimmouth proud I bid thee eke farewell,

Take heed you wives let not your hands rebell:

And farewell life wherein such sorrow flowes,

And welcome grave which must my corpes inclose.


And now sweet Lord forgive me my misdeeds,

Repentance cries for soule that inward bleeds:

My soule and body I commend to thee,

That with thy blood for death redeem’d it free.


Lord blesse our King with long and happy life,

And send true love betwixt each Man and Wife:

And give all Parents wisedome to foresee,

The match is marr’d where minds doe not agree.



The Lamentation of George Strangwidge, who for/ consenting to the death of Master Page of Plim-/mouth, suffered death at Barstable.  1609.


THe man that sighes and sorrowes for his sinne,

The corpes which care and woe hath wrapped in

In dolefull sort records his Swan=like Song,

That waits for death and loaths to live so long.


O Granfield cause of my committed crime,

Snared in wealth as birds in bush of lime:

What cause hadst thou to beare such wicked spight,

Against my good and eke my loves delight.


I would to God thy wisedome had beene more,

Or that I had not entred in thy doore:

Or that thou hadst a kinder Father beene

Unto thy child, whose yeares are yet but greene.


The match unmeet which thou for muck didst make:

When aged Page thy Daughter home did take:

Well maist thou rue with teares that cannot dry,

Which was the cause that foure of us must die.


Ulalia faire, more bright then summers Sunne,

Whose beauty had my heart for ever won:

My soule more sobs to thinke of thy disgrace,

Then to behold mine owne untimely race.


The deed late done in heart I doe lament

But that I lov’d I cannot it repent:

Thy seemely sight was ever sweet to me,

Would God my death might thy excuser be.


It was for me alas thou didst the same,

On me of right they ought to lay the blame:

My worthlesse love hath brought my life in scorne,

Now woe is me that ever I was borne.


Farewell my Love whose loyall heart was seene,

Would God thou hadst not halfe so constant beene:

Farewell my Love, the pride of Plimmouth Towne,

Farewell the Flower whose beauty is cut downe.


[For twenty yeares, great was the cost, I know

Thy unkind Father did on thee bestow:

Yet afterward so sore did fortune lowre,

He lost his joy and child within an houre.]


[My wrong and woe to God I doe commit,

This was the fault by matching them unfit,

And yet my guilt I cannot so excuse,

I gave consent his life for to abuse.]


Wretch that I am, that I consent did give,

Had I denied, Ulalia still should live:

Blind fancy said, her sute doe not deny,

Live thou in blisse, or else in sorrow die.


O Lord forgive this cruell deed of mine,

Upon my soule let beames of mercy shine:

In justice Lord doe thou no vengeance take,

Forgive us both for Jesus Christ his sake.


The sorrowful complaint of Mistris Page, for causing her/ Husband to be murthered, for the love of George/ Strangwidge, who were executed together.


IF ever woe did touch a Womans heart,

Or griefe did gaule for sin the inward part

My conscience then and heavy heart within,

Can witnesse well my sorrow for my sin.


[When yeares were young my Father forst me wed,

Against my will, where fancy was not led,

I was content his pleasure to obey,

Although my heart was linkt another way.]


[Great were the gifts they proffered to my sight,

With wealth they thought to win me to delight:

But gold nor gift my heart could not remove,

For I was linkt whereas I could not love.]


[Me thought his sight was loathsome in mine eye,

My heart did grudge against him inwardly

This discontent did cause my deadly strife,

And with his wealth I liv’d a loathsome life.]


[My constant love was on young Strangwidge set,

And woe to them that did our welfare let:

His love in me so deepe a roote did take,

I could have gone a begging for his sake.]


[Wronged he was even through my Parents plaine,

Wronged he was through fond desire of gaine,

If faith and troth a perfect pledge might be,

I had been wife unto no man but he.]


Eternall God forgive my Fathers deed,

And grant all maidens to take better heed,

If I had constant beene unto my friend,

I had not matcht to make so bad an end.


[But wanting grace, I sought my owne decay,

And was the cause to cast my friend away:

And he in whom my earthly joyes did lie,

Through my amisse, a shamefull death must die.]


Farewell sweet George, my loving faithfull friend,

Needs must I laude and love thee to the end

And albeit that Page possest thy due,

In sight of God thou wast my husband true.


My watry eyes unto the heavens I bend,

Craving of Christ his mercy to extend,

My bloody deed, O Lord doe me forgive,

And let my soule within thy Kingdome live.


Farewell false world and friends that fickle bee,

All wives farewell, example take by me:

Let not the Devill to murther you intice,

Seeke to escape each foule and filthy vice.


And now, O Christ, to thee I yeeld my breath,

Strengthen my faith in bitter pangs of death:

Forgive my faults and follies I thee pray,

And with thy blood wash thou my sinnes away.

London Printed for H. Gosson.  FINIS.

Back to contents
Back to contents

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

Shirburn ballads: nos. XXVI/XXVII.

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Pavier and partners, 1624 (as 'Page of Plimouth'); Coles, Vere, Wright and Clarke, 1675; and Thackeray, 1689 ('Page's Wife of Plymouth).

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 12

No. of extant copies: 10

New tune-titles generated: none.

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases: 23 references, with no evidence of later collection as a folk-song (Roud nos. V22285 and V21408).

POINTS: 2 + 30 + 0 + 24 + 10 + 0 + 0 + 2 = 68

Back to contents

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

Back to contents