16  The Lamenting Ladies last farewel to the/ WORLD [Euing 183]

Author: Anonymous

Recording: The Lamenting Ladies last farewel

Bodies - clothing Death - godly end Emotions - sorrow Family - children/parents Gender - femininity Politics - Civil War/Interregnum Politics - Royalist Politics - domestic Religion - Christ/God Religion - heaven/hell Religion - prayer

Song History

The Lamenting Ladies last farewel to the WORLD was probably first published by Thomas Vere in 1650, soon after the event it described. The author is unknown. 

Historical Context

Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Charles I, was placed under house arrest throughout the period of the civil wars and became a figurehead for the royalist cause. She famously produced an account of Charles I’s last meeting with his children, which movingly described the gifts he had distributed among them: she received a bible. Throughout the period of her imprisonment, Elizabeth proved a thorn in the side of the Parliament, vigorously complaining about the treatment and housing she and her younger brother, Prince Henry, endured. In a bid to break her spirit, she was continually moved around, while both she and her youngest brother were subjected to two sermons a day. She was a scholarly young woman, refelcted in royalist poems that celebrated her pious learning and her knowledge of languages, including Greek and Hebrew. At the time of the king's execution in 1649, she was just fourteen.

In 1650, Elizabeth became unwell, but she was nevertheless moved once again to the Isle of Wight: a last move that proved fatal. Just two newspapers included a short notice telling of her death, which implied that she had brought he demise upon herself by insisting on going out to play bowls. One stated that ‘care was being taken for her funeral’: her tomb was unmarked except for the initials ‘E. S.’. Tragically, her death coincided with Parliament’s decision to allow her and her brother to join their mother abroad.

Publication History and Popularity

While the newspapers had little to say about the princesses death, a royalist balladeer was determined not to allow Elizabeth to go unlamented. The author's name is unknown. Wood's edition was uniquely signed with the initials  'E. S.' but these related to the princess. 

With the help of a leading stationer – Thomas Vere – Elizabeth's death was turned into a huge public event. The Lamenting Ladies last farewel to the World was published for the retail market almost immediately in 1650. Set to ‘O hone O hone’, a standard tune for laments (see Featured tune history), this uncompromisingly royalist and deeply moving song, a perfect matching of words and music, ventriloquised the voice of Princess Elizabeth, who piously lamented the cruel loss to herself and to the three kingdoms of her father and family.

At least eleven seventeenth-century editions were published and distributed across the country. For example, Anthony Wood, who was only a few years older than the Princess and living in Oxford, acquired an early edition in 1650. The slowly deteriorating condition of the woodcuts on the many editions (which have been helpful in putting editions in order), indicate that thousands of copies of the ballad were in circulation from the interregnum until at least the eighteenth century (see also Featured woodcut history).

In response to an order from the Protectorate government (see The Ballad Business essay) Thomas Vere registered his rights to the The Lamenting Ladies last farewel in 1656, along with a number of other titles he had published since the end of the civil wars. In 1655, Vere had become one of a new group of Ballad Partners, under the leadership of Francis Coles, but he was obviously loathe to share the rights to his best-selling song with them. The great fire of 1666 forced Vere to move from his shop for a period and he gave Francis Coles the right to sell (though not to print) the song, for a time. It was not until after Vere's death in 1682 that his rights were transferred to the Ballad Partnership, which by then consisted of Wright, Clarke, Thackeray and Passenger. The song was still in print in 1689, when William Thackeray drew up a trade list and contract for a new Ballad Partnership with the printers, Alexander Milbourn and John Millet.

Princess Elizabeth’s song and story were reprinted in about 1711 for Thomas Norris and John Walter with a new woodcut image that portrayed the captive scholar-princess with her father’s Bible. This representation continued to be influential in portraits, until, in the nineteenth century, Queen Victoria – a great lover of the Isle of Wight - decided that her young ancestor should be given a proper tomb in keeping with her status. Perhaps influenced by our ballad in some way, she commissioned an effigy that depicted the young princess asleep in death, with her head on the bible her father gave her.

The song may also have been reprinted for a Jacobite audience after 1689. A large, beautifully printed and decorated (but not illustrated) edition appeared, as did a couple of less ornate white-letter editions. It is impossible to ascertain the precise date of publication for these ballads, but the use of black letter for emphasis in the most ornate one is reminiscent of a late-seventeenth century ballad aesthetic and it has therefore been included in our list.

Angela McShane


Goodwin, Gordon, and Sean Kelsey. 'Elizabeth, Princess (1635–1650).' Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)

Angela McShane,The Ballad Trade and its Politics in Seventeenth Century Britain (Woodbridge, forthcoming), chs. 4 & 6.


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Featured Tune History

To the tune of ‘O hone, O hone’ (standard name: Franklin is fled away)

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

This tune, popular in the second half of the seventeenth century, was known variously as ‘Franklin [is fled away]’, ‘O hone, O hone’, ‘Frankling is dead and gone’, ‘You pritty maidens all’, ‘The ruined virgin’ and ‘You gallant ladies all’. For our recording, we have used the version that appears in Apollo’s Banquet (1670). Notation can also be found in a number of other sources, including Musicks Recreation on the Viol, Lyra-way (1669), A Choice Collection of 180 Loyal Songs (1685), Wit and Mirth (1719-20) and the ballad-opera entitled The Jovial Crew (1731). These are all very clearly versions of the same tune, but there are numerous small melodic differences between them and no two of these renditions are the same. Clearly this was a tune that allowed and encouraged a good deal of individual variation on the part of song-writers and instrumentalists.

Echoes (an overview)

The melody was named on a number of songs between 1650 and 1680. It was associated strongly and consistently with death and grief, as befitted a tune that took one of its titles from a Gaelic expression of lament, anglicised as ‘O hone O hone’. A feeling of sorrow is perhaps intrinsic to the tune, but it was also enhanced by ballads such as A mournful carol and THE Queens Lamentation, both of which expressed the agony of grief.

This then opened up space for other ballad-makers to vary the approach somewhat, and The Lamenting Ladies last farewel to the WORLD is ear-catching for the manner in which the note of grief is struck by a still-living woman, clearly modelled on Charles I’s daughter Elizabeth who died in exile in 1650 (perhaps the song also expresses wordless grief for the king himself, executed in the previous year). The immense success of the song may have had something to do with the subtlety of this design. The two Faithful Lovers and The two Unfortunate Lovers both present more conventional love-narratives, but the tune surely warns us continually that neither tale is likely to end well. Nobody actually dies in The distressed Damsels downfall by a deceitful Youngman, though the tune once again contributes dark and dismal resonances to this story of an abandoned, pregnant girl.

There are also some direct intertextual echoes that connect the songs listed below. As far as we can tell, the lament ‘O hone o hone’ was first connected with this tune in A mournful carol. Here, remarkably, it sounds forty-five times in a full rendition of the song. The expression was then used more sparingly in The two Faithful Lovers, where it features only at the end of the final verse. It also appears, however, as a tune title, and it is arguable that, for those who had heard A mournful carol, the expression must almost have come to haunt all subsequent songs. The Lamenting Ladies last farewel and THE Queens Lamentation both include verses that end ‘O pitty me’. The former uses ‘heaven succour me’ at the conclusion of other verses, while the latter chooses the closely-related expression, ‘Lord succour me’ (it is worth noting that these two songs expressed grief for members of the same family).

We might also note an interesting point of contact between THE Queens Lamentation and the earlier but still popular Lamentable dittie about the execution of the Earl of Essex in 1601. This was set to different music, but the melody was another lament, as suggested by its title, ‘Welladay’. Of the Earl of Essex’s attitude to Elizabeth I, we are told, ‘He did her fame advance,/ In Ireland Spaine and France’. In the later song, Charles II’s grieving queen sings of her dead son: ‘When late he was in France,/ his comely Grace/ My spirits did advance/ to see his face’. This was probably not a deliberate cross-reference on the ballad-maker’s part but it nevertheless suggests the manner in which old songs might flit uninvited through the mind of a composer -  or, for that matter, a consumer - while a new song was receiving attention.

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

Songs and Summaries

[A mournful carol: or an Elegy lamentating the Tr]agick ends of two unfortunate Lovers... To a new Tune, called, Franklin is fled away (registered in 1656, but the tune title used in The Lamenting Ladies last farewel suggests that A mournful carol actually came first; William Gilbertson, 1647-50?). Douce 2(221b). Death – warfare, heartbreak, suicide; Emotions – despair, love; Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Bodies – looks/physique; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Politics – domestic, Royalist; Religion – heaven/hell. Cordelia laments the death in battle of her sweetheart, Franklin, and, after describing his many qualities, she commits suicide in order to join him in the afterlife.

The Lamenting Ladies last farewel to the WORLD... To an excellent new Tune, O hone, O hone (Tho. Vere, 1650-66). Euing 183; EBBA 31938. Death – godly end; Emotions – sorrow; Religion – Christ/God, heaven/hell, prayer; Politics – domestic, Royalist; Gender – femininity; Family – children/parents. An aristocratic English woman in exile makes her will, lamenting the sad course her life has taken and putting her affairs in order as she prepares to meet her maker.

THE Queens Lamentation, OR, The most sad and mournfull Complaint of her Sacred Majesty, the Queen of England, upon the death of her most dear and well Esteemed Son... To the Tune of, Franklin (Charles Tyus, 1660). Euing 290; EBBA 31904. Death – illness, tragedy; Emotions –despair; Family – children/parents; Royalty – praise; Gender – masculinity, femininity;Bodies – looks/physique; Politics – foreign affairs, domestic; Religion – heaven/hell, ghosts/spirits, angels/devils; Environment – skies, wonders, birds; Places – European. The Queen of England expresses profound grief at the death of her son, Henry, on 13 September 1660.

The two Faithful Lovers. To the Tune of, Francklin is fled  (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright,  1665-74). Douce 2(213b). Gender – courtship, cross-dressing; Death – tragedy, grief; Emotions – love, sorrow; Places – European; Politics – domestic.  A woman travels in disguise to Venice with her sweetheart because she cannot bear to be parted from him but, on this occasion, there is no happy ending.

The two Unfortunate Lovers: OR, THE Flintshire 'SQUIRE and Shropshire MAID's Misfortunes... Tune of  The Ruined Virgin: or, Franklin is fled away (J. Deacon, 1671-99).  Pepys 3.363; EBBA 21379.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Society – rich and poor; Death – heartbreak, tragedy; Emotions – sorrow; Family – children/parents; Places – English, Welsh.  An esquire seduces a young woman with a promise of matrimony but then abandons her, with tragic consequences.

The distressed Damsels downfall by a deceitful Youngman... To the Tune of Frankling is dead and gone, O hone, o hone (Francis Coles, T. Vere, Jo. Wright, and Jo. Clarke, 1675-80). Douce 1(59b). Gender – courtship, sex, masculinity, femininity; Family – children/parents, pregnancy/childbirth; Emotions – sorrow; Morality – romantic/sexual; Bodies – clothing; Places – travel/transport; Environment – roads; Society – education, friendship. A teenaged girl agrees to have sex with an ardent man when he promises marriage, but he abandons her when she becomes pregnant and she has no option but to run away from home.


The melody was also called for on several white-letter ballads and in songbooks of the period.  See, for example: The Childrens Cryes Against Their Barbarous & Cruel Father... To the Tune of, You Pritty Maidens all (1690-1700); and Nathaniel Thompson, A Choice Collection of 120 Loyal Songs (London, 1684). In Thompson’s songs, the tune is used in biting mockery of an Irishman and a Whig respectively, both of whom lament the failure of their subversive political enterprises. In the world of the political songbook, it seems that satirical uses of the tune were very definitely in vogue, though the effect of this tactic of course depended heavily upon the associations already carried by the tune. An eighteenth-century parody, included in the 1719-20 edition of Wit and Mirth, deployed the tune in imagining a wealthy lady cast into profound grief when her dog was accidentally suffocated by a sleeping maidservant. The melody was also referenced occasionally in other forms of literature. In Luke Milbourne’s Notes on Dryden’s Virgil, for example, there is a scornful remark about ‘a meer Ballad Singer, Toning out, o Hone, o Hone, with sad Lines, and a dismal voice’.

Christopher Marsh


Anon, Musicks Recreation on the Viol, Lyra-way (1669), p. 13.

Apollo’s Banquet (1670), no. 67 (transcribed in Simpson, p. 233)

The Jovial Crew (1731), p. 59.

Luke Milbourne, Notes on Dryden’s Virgil In a Letter to a Friend (1698), p. 58.

Claude Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and its Music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 232-35.

Nathaniel Thompson, A Choice Collection of 120 Loyal Songs (1684), pp. 106-09 and 113-15.

                A Choice Collection of 180 Loyal Songs (1685), p. 120.

Wit and Mirth (1719-20), V, p. 129.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Woman with hand of God

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 deployed on most seventeenth-century editions of The Lamenting Ladies last farewel. The same wood-block appears to have been used for all surviving versions, and it remained in use even as wood-worm burrowed into it (see also Song history). Its specific association with this ballad probably explains why it was not used commonly on other sheets; a search of the two largest collections has revealed no further examples (the only song listed below is therefore our featured edition, from the Euing collection). The image, as it appears on this hit political ballad, seems to convey a stimulating ambivalence. The lady begins her lament by appealing to Melpomene, the ancient muse of tragedy, for assistance in making her will, yet she concludes with the words ‘Christ cals for me’. Whose hand, then, is reaching towards her from the clouds?

Songs and summaries

The Lamenting Ladies last farewel to the WORLD (Tho. Vere, 1650-66). Euing 183; EBBA 31938. Death – godly end; Emotions – sorrow; Religion – Christ/God, heaven/hell, prayer; Politics – domestic, Royalist; Gender – femininity; Family – children/parents. An aristocratic English woman in exile makes her will, lamenting the sad course her life has taken and putting her affairs in order as she prepares to meet her maker (picture placement: she stands directly beneath the title).

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

Princess Elizabeth's death was briefly mentioned in just two newspapers: 

The Moderne Intelligencer, No. 1. Sept 10 - Sept 18 1650, p. 5

Perfect Passages of Every Daies Intelligence, No. 10. 9 Sept. - 13 Sept, 1650, p. 78.

Angela McShane

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The Lamenting Ladies last farewel to the/ WOR.LD./ Who being in a strange Exile bewales her/ own misery, complains upon Fortune and Destiny, describeth/ the manner of her breeding, deplores the loss of her parents/ wishing peace and happinesse to England, which was her native/ Country, and withall resolved for death, chearfully commen-/deth her soul to heaven, and her body to the earth, and quiet-/ly departed this life: Anno 1650.

To an excelent new Tune, O hone, O hone.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


MOurnful Melpomeny

assist my quill,

That I may pensivly,

now make my will,

Guide thou my hand, to write

And sences to indite,

A Ladies last good night,

O pitty me.


I that was nobly born.

hither am sent:

Like to a wretch forlorn;

here to lament;

In this most strange exile

Here to remain awhile:

Till heaven be pleas’d to smile:

and send for me.


My friends cannot come nigh

me in this place:

Nor bear me company

such is my case,

Poor I am left alone,

But few regard my mone:

All my delights are gone

heaven succour me,


Each day with cares and feares,

I am perplext,

My drink is brinish tears

with sorrow mixt.

When others soundly sleep,

I sadly sob and weep:

Opprest with dangers deep

Lord comfort me.


When England flourished,

my Parents deer

Tenderly nourished

me many a year,

I was advanc’d on high,

In place of dignity,

In golden bravery

they decked me.


MY garments deckt with pearl

richly approv’d,

Never was English girle

better belovd,

Old and young, great and smal

Waited upon my cal,

I had the love of all,

that did know me.


But from my former state

I am cal’d back,

Through destiny and fate,

all goes to wrack,

Fortune did lately frown,

And caught me by the Crowne,

So puld me head=long down,

oh woe is me


My dear friends are decay’d,

which lov’d me best,

Never was harmelesse maid,

so much distrest:

My Father he is dead.

My Mother banished,

All joyes are from me fled,

Heaven comfort me.


How well are they at ease

and sweetly blest,

That may goe when they please

and where they list

To see their Parents kind,

As nature doth them bind,

Such joyes I cannot finde,

Ah woe is me.


All earthly helps are gone,

I will and must

Onely in God alone

Put my whole trust.

O blessed Trinity,

One God and persons three,

Release my misery,

and comfort me.


No creature on the earth,

can ease my griefe,

Until such time as death

yeeld me reliefe,

A coffin and a grave,

Is that which I would have,

Sweet Christ my soule receive

and sucour me.


My Enemyes that bee,

both great and smal,

Good Lord I pray to thee

forgive them all.

May England flourish brave

When I am laid in grave

So thus I take my leave

Christ calls for me.


I have in heaven above

a place prepar’d

Never shall I depart

from thence afterwards

Goe tole my passing bell

Whilst Angels ring my knell,

So vain world now farewel

Christ sends for me.


When she these words had spoke,

with chearfull heart

The noble minded maid

then did depart

No doubt her souls at rest

with them whom God hath blest

The last words she exprest

was, Christ cals for me

London, Printed for Tho. Vere/ at the sign of the Angell/ without Newgate.

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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: 12

No. of extant copies: 15

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Thackeray, 1689 (as ?'Melpomine' from first line).

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: 1656.

3-year periods that produced multiple editions: none firmly established. 10-year periods that produced multiple editions: 1656-65 (6); 1700-09 (2).

New tune titles generated: none.

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none firmly established.

Pre-1640 bonus: no.

POINTS: 24 + 15 + 10 + 5 + 32 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 86

[On this ballad, see also Angela McShane, Political Broadside Ballads of Seventeenth-Century England, no. 218].

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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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