58  An excellent Ballad, Intituled, the unfortunate love of a Lancashire Gentleman,/ and the hard fortune of a fair young Bride [Euing 80]

Author: Anonymous

Crime - murder Death - execution Death - suicide Death - unlawful killing Emotions - anger Emotions - despair Emotions - love Family - children/parents Gender - courtship Gender - marriage Morality - familial Morality - romantic/sexual Recreation - food Recreation - walking Recreation - weddings Society - rich/poor Violence - interpersonal Violence - self-inflicted

Song History

This ballad appears to have enjoyed notable popularity during the seventeenth century before fading somewhat in the period that followed. Even after 1700, however, it was still published occasionally as a broadside and included in printed song collections (see Harland and Philips).

The song’s popularity in the seventeenth century may have been related to the way it combined subject matter that was highly familiar to ballad-consumers with elements that were more unusual. Well-trodden ground included the emphasis on true love as a better basis for marriage than economics, and the demonstration of the disastrous consequences that could follow attempts at parental dictatorship (see also The Lamentation of Master Pages wife). The tragical trajectory of the piece, signalled from the very start, also placed listeners and readers in terrain that they already knew well. The spoiler-fixation that characterises modern culture seems to have had little place in seventeenth-century thinking, and in this ballad the singer declares ‘Alack for my love I shall dye’ thirty-six times before he actually does. The early-modern taste for tragedy is also suggested by the fact that all four of the ballad’s characters end up dead (the gentleman, his father, and both his wives).

The concentration on bigamy was more distinctive (see also Related texts). The threat that the practice posed to social and religious order, and the difficulties of detection, made bigamy a hot topic in seventeenth-century England. Bernard Capp has helpfully surveyed the scene for us, and it is interesting that the case described in An excellent Ballad diverges significantly from many of the common patterns. Most bigamists were escaping from unhappy unions but our ‘Lancashire Gentleman’ instead marries for the second time because he feels the need to obey his father so that he does not lose his inheritance. Most bigamists moved away from their home regions before marrying again, partly to evade detection, but the individual in the ballad seems to marry twice within the same area. More obviously, he responds to the difficulties of his situation by killing his second wife on the day of their wedding. Capp mentions one comparable case in Worcestershire but the murder of a spouse was an extreme abnormality.

Perhaps, therefore, the ballad-makers took a common concern and pushed its consequences to a compelling new level of intensity. Many of the hit songs on our list suggest the commercial viability of this approach.

Christopher Marsh


Broadside ballads from the Bodleian Libraries: http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/ 

Bernard Capp, ‘Bigamous marriage in early-modern England’, Historical journal 52.3 (September 2009), pp. 537-56.

English Broadside Ballad Archive: https://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/

English Short Title Catalogue.

John Harland, Ballads and songs of Lancashire (1875), pp. 116-25.

Ambrose Philips, A collection of old ballads (1723), pp. 236-43.

Hyder E. Rollins, An analytical index to the ballad-entries (1557-1709) in the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London (1924; Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1967), nos. 1530 and 2786.

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Featured Tune History

To the tune of 'Come follow my love' (lost melody with standard name, Bleeding heart)

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

Versions and variations

The melody has not survived in a version from the seventeenth century, nor have we found a later tune with a strong link to a relevant text. An excellent Ballad was set to 'Come follow my love', the same tune that was nominated on A True Relation of the Life and Death of Sir Andrew Barton in the 1620s. Curiously, however, the two songs have different metres and the tune that we have used to record the Barton ballad does not fit the song under discussion here. It seems likely that the melody must originally have existed in more than one form, though we cannot be sure. Another of our hit songs, A Warning to all lewd Livers, named the tune 'Sir Andrew Barton' and opened with the words 'My bleeding heart', thus providing another new title for the melody.

Echoes (an overview)

The metrical discrepancy between An excellent Ballad and all the other songs on the list below makes it difficult to discuss the tune’s movement between texts and the associations it may have carried. In general terms, the tune known as ‘Come follow my love’ (also known as ‘Sir Andrew Barton’ and ‘Bleeding heart’) was associated with heavy moral tales, many of them about murderers. The text of An excellent Ballad sits comfortably at the start of this tradition, and its rhythmic incompatibility with the other songs is puzzling.

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

Songs and Summaries

An excellent Ballad, Intituled, the unfortunate love of a Lancashire Gentleman, and the hard fortune of a fair young Bride. The tune is, Come follow my Love  (registered 1624; F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63). Euing 80; EBBA 31763. Gender – courtship, marriage; Family – children/parents; Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal, self-inflicted; Emotions – love, anger, despair; Morality – romantic/sexual, familial; Society – rich/poor; Recreation – weddings, food, walking. A wealthy young man marries his poor sweetheart in secret, but is then pressured by his father into wedding a richer woman whom he then murders in desperation (this song has a different metre from all of those listed below and it is difficult to believe that it can actually have been sung to the same tune).

A True Relation of the Life and Death of Sir Andrew Barton, a Pyrate and Rover on the Seas. Tune is, Come follow my Love (registered 1629; J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84). Pepys 1.484-85; EBBA 20227. Crime – piracy; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; History – medieval; Environment – sea; Violence – at sea; Death – warfare; Emotions – excitement, anger, patriotism; Politics – foreign affairs, controversy; Bodies – looks/physique, injury; Places – English, travel/transport; Royalty – authority. The Scottish pirate, Andrew Barton, has been disrupting England’s mercantile sea traffic, so King Henry despatches Lord Howard and more than a hundred brave men to sort him out.

A Warning to all lewd Livers... To the Tune of, Sir Andrew Barton (registered, 1633; Fra. Grove, 1656-62). Roxburghe 3.262-3; EBBA 30976. Family – children and parents; Emotions – sorrow; Gender – sex; Recreation – games; Religion – morality; Crime – robbery;  Death – result of immorality.  The tale of a young man who wastes all his money on gaming and lewd women before dying miserably on a dung-hill.

A Marvellous Murther, Committed upon the Body of one George Drawnefield of Brempton... To the tune of My bleeding heart (Francis Coules, 1633-80). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 2.1; EBBA 36048. Crime – murder, robbery/theft, punishment, prison; Violence – interpersonal; Death – unlawful killing; Morality – general, social/economic; Economy – livings, money; Religion – angels/devils, divine intervention; Society – neighbours; Emotions – horror; Family – siblings, inheritance; Bodies – health/sickness, injury; Gender – singles; Environment – flowers/trees; News – domestic; Places – English.  This describes a brutal and cunning murder, the forensic examinations that eventually established cause of death, and the process by which all the perpretrators are now facing justice.

The Sinners Redemption, Wherein is described the blessed Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, together with his life on earth, and his precious death on the Cross for Mankind. To the tune of, The bleeding heart, or, In Creet, &c. (no imprint, mid-seventeenth century).  Roxburghe 1.374-75; EBBA 30252.  Religion – Christ/God, Bible, Judaism, heroism; Death – execution, godly end; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Violence – punitive. This tells the story of the nativity and connects it with other passages in Christ’s life, particularly his miracles and his death.

The wicked Midwife, the cruell Mother, and the harmelesse Daughter... To the tune of, The bleeding Heart (imprint missing,  mid seventeenth-century). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 1.41; EBBA 36032. Family – children/parents, pregnancy/childbirth; Crime – infanticide, punishment, false witness; Death – unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal; Employment – professions, female; Economy – prices/wages; Emotions – despair, shame; Gender – femininity, courtship; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Places – English; News – convicts/crimes, domestic, sensational. A young woman becomes pregnant out of wedlock and turns to her mother for aid, but the older woman has the baby killed by the midwife and then blames her own daughter for the crime.

The Great Turks terrible Challenge, this yeare 1640... To the tune of My bleeding heart, or Lets to the wars againe (Richard Harper, 1640?). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 1.2; EBBA 36010. Politics – foreign affairs, war; Religion –Muslims, heathens/infidels, prayer; Violence – between states; Death – warfare; Emotions – fear; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; News – international; Places – European, extra-European. The Holy Roman Empire and the kingdom of Poland are in grave danger from the huge and aggressive forces of the Turkish sultan, and this song raises the alarm and prays for the deliverance of all Christians.

Colonell Rainsborowes Ghost: OR, A true Relation of the manner of his Death... To the tune of, My bleeding heart with griefe and care (‘Printed at LONDON 1648’). British Library 669.f.13. EBBA 36658.. Crime – murder; Death – warfare; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Politics – domestic, war; Violence – civil war, interpersonal, punitive; Morality – political; Emotions – sorrow, guilt; Places – English; News – convicts/crimes. The ghost of a troubled parliamentary soldier regrets his role in the death of two worthy men in Colchester and describes his own murder at the hands of those seeking revenge.

A Dreadful Relation, of the Cruel, Bloudy, and most Inhumane Massacre and Butchery, committed on the poor Protestans, in the Dominions of the Duke of Savoy... To the Tune of, The Bleeding Heart (John Andrews, 1655?). British Library C.20.f.14.(20.); EBBA 36810. Violence – interpersonal, political; Religion – Catholic/Protestant; Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing, warfare; Bodies – injury; Disability – physical; Emotions – horror, anger; Politics – foreign affairs, war; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Family – children/parents; Morality – general; Environment – landscape; News – international, political, sensational; Places – European; Society – old/young.  A graphic description of the massacre of many Protestants in the realms of the Duke of Savoy, all of them refusing to renounce their faith.

THE QUAKERS FEAR. OR, Wonderful strange and true News from the famous Town of Colchester... The tune is, Summertime. Or bleeding Heart (F. Coles, J. Wright, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1656-58). Wood 401(165). Religion – prophecy, Protestant nonconformity, saints, blasphemy; angels/devils, Bible, Christ/God; Bodies – nourishment, health/sickness; Crime – heresy, prison; Death – suicide; Emotions – hope, suspicion, wonder; News – domestic, convicts/crimes; Places – English. This describes the death in Colchester gaol of the Quaker leader, James Parnell, who perished after a twelve-day hunger strike and failed to fulfil the prophecies with which he had allegedly duped his followers.

The Examination, Confession, and Execution of Ursula Corbet... To the Tune of, The bleeding Heart (John Andrews, 1660?). Crawford 462(1); EBBA 32887. Crime – murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution, godly end; Gender – marriage; Morality – familial, general; Emotions – guilt; Employment – crafts/trades, professions; Family – children/parents; Places – English; Religion – sin/repentance, prayer; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; News – convicts/crimes. The story of a woman, born of ‘honest’ parents, who was excecuted by fire for poisoning her husband because she did not love him.

The Bloody Butcher, And the two wicked and cruel Bawds... The tune, The bleeding heart (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1667?). Euing 20; EBBA 31663. Crime – murder, rape, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal, sexual, domestic; Emotions – horror, anxiety, anger, longing; Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity, sexual violence; Employment – crafts/trades, prostitution, alehouses/inns; Morality – general, familial, romantic/sexual; News – convicts/crimes; Religion – angels/devils; Society – neighbours, urban life; Recreation – alcohol; Places – English. Two London murder cases are here described: first, an account of a butcher who stabbed his pregnant wife in the back during a dispute over money; and second, the tale of a brothel-keeper who offered an innocent ten-year-old girl to a client and suffocated her while trying to stifle her cries.

The Old Gentlewoman last Legacy... Tune of My bleeding Heart (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Crawford 849; EBBA 33488. Death – godly end; Family – children/parents; Religion – moral rules, Bible, Christ/God, charity, heaven/hell, church, blasphemy; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol. A dying woman delivers moral and religious advice to her children, urging them to ‘Think on my words when I am dead’.

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.

Death’s Uncontrollable Summons; OR, The Mortality of MANKIND... To the Tune of, My Bleeding Heart (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Roxburghe 2.103; EBBA 30571. Death – general; Religion – body/soul; Society –old/young; Emotions – fear; Bodies – looks/physique. A young man is approached by Death, and his pleas for additional time on earth are rejected out of hand.

The Chamberlain’s Tragedy: OR, The Cook-Maid’s Cruelty... Tune, Bleeding Heart (J. Deacon, 1671-99). Pepys 2.178; EBBA 20795. Crime – murder, prison; Death – unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal; Emotions – anger, guilt, sorrow; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Gender – femininity, masculinity; Morality – general; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God; News – convicts/crimes, domestic; Places – English. This first describes the angry murder of a male servant (chamberlain) by a female servant (cook-maid) in a household in Andover, and then outlines the repentant spirit in which the murderer is facing death.

The wonder of wonders, or, the strange Birth in Hampshire... Tune of, My bleeding heart (J. Hose and E. Oliver, 1672-90). Wood E 25(104). Death – childbirth; Emotions – wonder, horror, anxiety; Bodies – looks/physique, health/sickness; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Environment – animals; Morality – general; Employment – female; Religion – divine intervention, Christ/God; Society – neighbours; News – domestic, sensational; Places – English. A woman in Hampshire has reportedly died in childbed while giving birth to a toad, a winged serpent and a dead child.

[Title missing]. Being a sad and true Relation of the Apprehension, Tryal, Confession, Condemnation, and Execution of the two barbarous and bloody Murtherers... Tune is, Bleeding Heart (John Hose, 1675?). Pepys 2.144; EBBA 20762. Crime – murder, prison, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal; Employment – alehouses/inns; Gender – marriage; Morality – general; News – convicts/crimes; Religion – angels/devils, sin/repentance, moral rules; Society – friends, urban life; Places – English, travel/transport; Recreation – alcohol. A northern gentleman, on a visit to London, is cruelly murdered by two men following a dispute in a tavern, but fortunately the perpretrators have been been brought to justice and duly executed.

Inhumane, & Cruel Bloody News from Leeds in York-shire... The Tune is, The Bleeding Heart, &c. (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Wood E 25(102). Crime – murder, prison; Death – unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal, domestic; Gender – adultery/cuckoldry; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Emotions – horror; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Religion – prayer, Christ/God, angels/devils; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English, travel/transport. In this song, a wicked man seduces the wife of a Londoner and persuades her to travel to Leeds with him, but when she becomes pregnant he kills and mutilates her.

Strange News from Stafford-shire; OR, A Dreadful Example of Divine Justice... Tune of, My Bleeding heart (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clark, 1675-80). Wood E 25(125). Religion – divine intervention,angels/devils, prayer, Christ/God, clergy, sin/repentance; Crime – robbery/theft, punishment, false witness; Bodies – health/sickness; Disability – physical; Emotions – guilt; Morality – social/economic, general; News – domestic, sensational; Places – English. A young man steals a Bible, then denies the crime, asking God to cause his flesh to rot if he is lying – so God does exactly this, thereby stimulating a burst of late repentance.

The Worlds Wonder. Giving an Account of Two Old Men... Tune of, My Bleeding Heart (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1680-81).  Roxburghe 2.526-7; EBBA 31031.  News – international, sensational; Places – European; Religion – sin and repentance, prophecy, general; Morality – general; Society – criticism.  A report on two aged prophets who have appeared in Tolouse, urging repentance and prognosticating strange events.

The Suffolk Miracle... To the Tune of, My bleeding heart, &c. (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray and T. Passenger, 1680-81). Douce 2(207b). Death – heartbreak, grief; Emotions – love, despair; Religion – ghosts/spirits; Family – children/parents, courtship, kin; Morality – romantic/sexual, familial; Society - old/young; Environment – animals; Bodies – clothing; Places – English, travel/transport. A young man dies of grief after being separated from his sweetheart by her angry father, but he visits her as a ghost and temporarily reclaims her before she too dies.

A Looking-Glass for all Impenitent Sinners... To the Tune of, My bleeding heart (R. Kell, 1684-94). Pepys 2.71; EBBA 20695. Religion – sin/repentance, heaven/hell, blasphemy, charity, prayer, Christ/God, clergy, angels/devils; Morality – general; Crime – general; Recreation – alcohol; Emotions – anxiety. An urgent call to repentance, motivated by the sinful state in which England currently exists.


The tune was also used occasionally on white-letter ballads. See, for example: Britains sorrowful Lamentation, For the Loss of their Gracious QUEEN MARY (1695) and Great NEWS from SOUTHWARK (1695). The second of these was the first humorous song known to have been written to the melody, telling the story of a miserable old woman who reputedly left all her wealth to her cat. This might be understood as evidence of white-letter composers and consumers choosing to mock the supposedly unsophisticated but deeply serious content of the black-letter ballads listed above.

Christopher Marsh


Bertrand Harris Bronson, The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, vol. 1 (1959), pp. 138-42.

Thomas Deloney, The pleasant Historie of John Whinchcomb, In his younguer yeares called Jack of Newbery (composed 1590s; 1626), F3r-G1v.

Hyder E. Rollins, An Analytical Index to the Ballad-Entries (1557-1709) in the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London (1924; Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1967).

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Woman with fan

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

Reflections (an overview)

This image was used very regularly on ballads of the second half of the seventeenth century. A number of different woodblocks existed, suggesting that printers saw the value in holding their own copies in stock. Many publishers issued songs that were illustrated by the woodcut.

The popularity of the image is also suggested by the fact that it continued to appear after the woodblock had seen such heavy use that the resultant images were heavily smudged and only identifiable if the viewer already knew what s/he was looking at. Sometimes, the picture appeared twice on a single sheet, indicating the use of two different woodblocks. The slightly sideways body-position of the Woman with fan also opens up the possibility of interaction with other well-known woodcut characters (eighteen of the ballads listed below combine her with the Declaiming man, for example).

The Woman with fan appears frequently on courtship ballads with optimistic narratives, and when she illustrates more tragic narratives – such as An excellent Ballad, Intituled, the unfortunate love of a Lancashire Gentleman  – the effect may have been to conjur up feelings about what might have been. On several of the courtship ballads, she also seems to have conveyed a certain mood of romantic prudence. Sometimes, this was merely caution about a man’s intentions but at other times it was closer to outright resistance (see The Lovers Battle, for example). The fan she held out before her was, it seems, both a lure and an obstacle for would-be wooers.

Perhaps her body language –simultaneously feminine and forthright - also suited her to more occasional ballads in which women complained about men in general. One even urged women to abandon the opposite sex and love one another instead (The Maidens Complaint). This woodcut featured on most editions of An excellent Ballad, Intituled, the unfortunate love of a Lancashire Gentleman, where the woman might represent either the gentleman’s true love or the unfortunate woman whom he is forced to marry instead.

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

Songs and summaries

A Caveat for Cut-purses (W. Gilbertson, 1647-65).  Roxburghe 2.46-7; ESTC R228083; EBBA 30274. Crime – robbery; Death – execution; Recreation -  general; Morality – social.  A warning about the danger posed by cutpurses, particularly in London’s most crowded areas (picture placement: she stands on the right of the sheet, next to a Declaiming Man).

A Courtly new ballad of the Princely wooing of the fair Maid of London by King Edward (F. Coles, T. Vere, and William Gilbertson, 1661-63). Euing 51;ESTC R224106; EBBA 31712. Emotions – longing; Gender – sex, masculinity, femininity; History – medieval, romance; Morality – romantic/sexual; Politics – court; Royalty – authority, criticism; Family – children/parents. The king attempts to persuade a beautiful London maiden to become his concubine, promising her all measure of pleasure and treasure, but she utterly refuses to compromise her virtue (picture placement: she appears on the right, holding up her fan towards a gesticulating gallant).

An excellent Ballad Intituled, the unfortunate love of a Lancashire Gentleman (F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63). Euing 80; ESTC R231234; EBBA 31763. Gender – courtship; Crime – murder; Death – murder, suicide; Emotions – love; Family – children and parents. A tragic story of love, clandestine marriage, bigamy, murder and suicide (picture placement: she stands on the right of the sheet, looking over towards a Declaiming Man on the left).

A pleasant Song made by a Souldier + A pleasant new Song of two Valentines and their Lovers (F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63). Roxburghe 3.190-91; ESTC R216135; EBBA 31640. Gender – courtship; Recreation – fairs/festivals; Emotions – love; Employment – agrarian. The image appears with the second song, in which a man declares his wholesome love for a woman on Valentine’s Day (picture placement: she appears beneath the title of the second song, next to a Declaiming Man).

The Springs Glory: OR, A precious Posie for Pretty Maidens (W. Gilbertson, 1647-65 or 60-65). Roxburghe 2.442-43; ESTC R227385; EBBA 30907. Environment – seasons, flowers/trees, birds, animals; Bodies – adornment; Emotions – joy, love; Gender – courtship, sex, Cupid; Recreation – dance, walking, music. A song that celebrates the spring, calling on maidens to make the most of the flowers, the birdsong and the atmosphere of romance (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, to the right of a Declaiming Man).

CUPIDS CURTESIE: in the wooing of fair Sabina (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74).  Roxburghe 2.93; ESTC R228172; EBBA 31603. Gender – courtship, Cupid; Bodies – physique/looks; Emotions – longing. A man approaches Sabina while she sleeps and, aided by Cupid, eventually wins her heart (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, next to a Declaiming Man).

The down Right Wooing, OF, Country William and his pritty Peggy (W. Thackeray, 1664-92). Roxburghe 3.136-37; ESTC R216106; EBBA 30443.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Emotions – love, anxiety, contentment; Employment – agrarian, female/male; Family – children/parents; Bodies – bodily functions; Environment – animals; Humour – extreme situations/surprises. William tries to persuade Peggy to marry him, and Peggy – after seeking reassurance that he is reliable and does not dirty his bed at night – agrees to be his wife (picture placement: she appears on the right side of the sheet, next to a man with a sword).

The Valiant Virgin; Or, Phillip and Mary (Thomas Passenger, 1664-88).  Roxburghe 2.546-47; ESTC R228728; EBBA 31147.  Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Bodies – clothing, health/sickness; Emotions – love, anxiety, joy; Employment – sailors/soldiers, crafts/trades, female/male; Violence – at sea; Family – children/parents; Morality – familial; Environment – sea, seasons; Places – English; Society – old/young. A gentleman tries to separate his daughter from the poor farmer’s son whom she loves by having the man pressed into the navy, but she dresses as a man and boards the ship as a surgeon’s mate in order to remain close to him (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, next to a man with a sword).

The diseased maiden Lover  (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Pepys 3.124; ESTC R217282; EBBA 21133. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Death – tragedy; Emotions – sorrow. Nature – flowers and trees.  A woman pines to death because of her disloyal sweetheart, and he shows himself utterly unrepentant (picture placement: she appears alongside a Declaiming Man).

The Maidens Nay, Or, I loue not you (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Roxburghe 2.336-37; ESTC S104415; EBBA 30783. Gender – courtship; Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – love. A man courts a woman, who turns him down initially before reversing her position in the second half of the song (picture placement: she stands beneath the title, alongside a Declaiming Man, and the same two individuals are presented as a single image – Couple with fan and grassy tufts – on the right side of the sheet).

A Posie of Rare Flowers (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74).  Pepys 4.39; ESTC R227334; EBBA 21705. Gender – courtship; Emotions – love; Nature – flowers and trees.  A wholsome romantic ballad in which a man lists the flowers he has gathered for his sweetheart (picture placement: on the left, she appears as one partner in the Couple with grassy tufts and, on the right, she and the Declaining man are presented separately).

The New Courtier (P.L for F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Wood E25 (89); ESTC R180904. Politics – domestic, court, satire; Gender – masculinity, sex, adultery/cuckoldry; Bodies – clothes, adornment; Recreation – fashions; Places – English; Humour – satire; Employment – crafts/trades, sailors/soldiers; Violence – interpersonal; Religion – atheism. A deliberately cryptic song in which a man, claiming to come from ‘the Utopian Court’, describes his principals and lascivious lifestyle in terms that are not intended to endear him to us (picture placement: she stands on the left, alongside a small man with a sword).

The Bashful Virgin: OR, The Secret Lover (W. Thackeray, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79).  Roxburghe 2.24; ESTC R226991; EBBA 30144.  Gender – courtship, femininity, Cupid; Emotions – love, anxiety, fear, hope.   A shy, young woman, suffering the pains of a love that she fears may be unrequited, summons up the courage to tell her sweetheart how she feels about him (picture placement: she appears beneath the title).

A Caveat for Young Men. OR, The Bad Husband turn'd Thrifty (W. Thackeray, T. Passinger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79).  Pepys 2.22; ESTC R227008; EBBA 20646. Recreation – alcohol, hospitality; Gender – marriage; Family – children/parents; Morality – familial; Economy – household, hardship; Emotions – guilt, sorrow; Employment – female/male, crafts/trades. A husband resolves to mend his ways after spending all of his money on ale to the detriment of his wife and children (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, to the right of a man who appears to gesture towards her).

Corydon and Cloris OR, The Wanton Sheepherdess (W. Thackeray, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79).  Roxburghe 3.138-39; ESTC R216107; EBBA 30444. Gender – courtship, sex, femininity, masculinity;  Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – longing, love, contentment; Employment – agrarian; Environmnet – animals, girds, flowers/trees; Society – rural life; Bodies – physique/looks. Cloris finds the advances of Corydon irresistible, and because sex leads to a happy marriage she refuses to see her action as wrong (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, next to a Declaiming Man).

The fair Lady of the West: AND The fortunate Farmers Son (W. Thackery, T. Passenger, and W. Whitwood, 1666-79). Pepys 4.3; ESTC R234871; EBBA 21670. Gender – courtship, femininity, Cupid; Society – rich and poor; Emotions – love. A wealthy young woman, whose parents are dead, rejects several suitors and chooses instead a farmer’s son of relatively humble means (picture placement: she appears on the far right, alongside a man who appears to gesture towards her).

A dainty new Dialogue between HENRY and ELIZABETH.  Being the good Wives Vindication, and the bad Husbands Reformation (no imprint, 1670-77?).  Roxburghe 2.100; ESTC R227083; EBBA 30566. Gender – marriage, masculinity, femininity; Recreation – good fellowship, alcohol, games/sports; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Economy – hardship/prosperity, household, money; Emotions – anxiety, contentment; Employment – alehouses/inns, prostitution; Crime – prison; Family – children/parents; Bodies – clothing, adornment. Bess warns Harry that his revelling ways are hurting the household, and Harry, after initial attempts at self-justification, assures Bess that he will mend his ways (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, next to a Declaiming Man).

The Womens just Complaint: OR, Mans Deceitfulness in Love (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.536-37; ESTC R234135; EBBA 31039. Gender – courtship, masculinity, sex; Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – anger, sorrow; Recreation – music, dance. A complaint, on behalf of women, about the sex-driven deceitfulness that men show so regularly in romance (picture placement: she appears on the right side of the sheet, next to a Declaiming Man).

The Constant Maidens Resolution, Or The Damsels loyal love to a Seaman With the Seamans kind answer thereunto (J. L. forJ. C., 1673-75).Roxburghe 3.112-13; ESTC R216090; EBBA 30431. Gender – courtship; Family – children/parents; Emotions – love; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Morality – familial; Economy – money; Recreation – weddings; Bodies – clothing. A woman declares her love for a seaman, and together they plan to overcome the anticipated objections of her father (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, alongside another woman who adopts a similar stance and a man who holds out a hand).

Love and Constancy OR The true Lovers welcome home from France (John Hose, 1672-90). Roxburghe 4.19; ESTC R229024; EBBA 30920. Gender – courtship; Emotions – love, joy; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Bodies – clothing; Recreation – weddings, alcohol, music, dance. A woman is overjoyed that her sweetheart is home from the wars in France, and together they resolve to be married (picture placement: she appears on the right side of the sheet, alongside a Declaiming Man, another woman with a fan and a man who extends a hand towards her).

Jenny, Jenny; Or, The false-hearted Knight, and Kind-hearted Lass (no imprint, 1675-80).  Roxburghe 2.221; ESTC R228246 ; EBBA 30682.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity, sex; Places – Scottish; Morality – sexual.  A woman surrenders her maidenhead to a deceiving knight who immediately refuses to support her (picture placement: she stands on the right side of the sheet, next to a Declaiming Man).

The Virgins ABC, OR, An Alphabet of Vertuous Admonitions, for a Chast, Modest and well governed Maid (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clark, 1675-80). Euing 370; ESTC R186044; EBBA 31981. Gender – femininity, courtship; Morality – general, romantic/sexual. A set of instructions on moral living, aimed at young women (picture placement: she appears beneath the title and there are no other woodcuts – some other editions of this ballad display a heavily smudged reproduction of the picture).

The Mothers Kindness, Conquer'd by her Daughters Vindication of Valiant and Renowned Seamen (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, and J. Back, 1688-96).  Pepys 4.212; ESTC R188597; EBBA 21874. Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – courtship, masculinity; Bodies – physique. A mother warns her daughter that sailors are not to be trusted in love but is eventually persuaded by the counter-arguments (picture placement: she appears on the far right, alongside a Walking Woman).

The Lovers Battle, Being a sore Combat fought between Mars and Venus, at a place called Cunney Castle, under Belly-hill (T. R, 1676?).  Roxburghe 2.302; ESTC R228350; EBBA 30754. History – ancient/mythological, romance; Gender – sex, sexual violence, masculinity, femininity; Humour – bawdry; Emotions – longing, anger; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Environment – buildings; Recreation – games/sports; Religion – ancient gods; Violence – interpersonal. Venus challenges boastful Mars to lay siege to her castle (which can be found along ‘thigh alley’), and he makes initial inroads before eventually being forced to withdraw in humiliation (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, next to a man with a sword who turns towards her).

The Distressed VIRGIN; Or, The false young-man, and the constant maid (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1680-81).  Pepys 3.313; ESTC R31068; EBBA 21327. Gender – courtship, Cupid, masculinity, femininity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Death – heartbreak; Emotions – sorrow. A young woman, abandoned by the man to whom she was engaged, expresses her extreme sadness and declares her readiness to die (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, to the right of a Declaiming Man).

The Dying Lovers Reprieve (F. Coles, T. Vere, I. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1680-81). Pepys 3.99; ESTC R176436; EBBA 21102. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Emotions – love, sorrow. A man begs a previously disdainful woman to love him, and she agrees (picture placement: she appears on the far right, next to a man in a plumed hat).

The Valiant Commander, with his Resolute Lady (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray and T. Passinger, 1680-81). Pepys 2.208; ESTC R227453; EBBA 20819. Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity; Politics – controversy; Violence – civil war; Emotions – love; Bodies – clothing; Places - English. A besieged Royalist commander and his beloved wife, disguised as a man, fight fiercely against their foes (picture placement: she appears over the opening verses in a box with a Declaiming Man).

A New Ballad of the Souldier and Peggy (J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1682-84). Pepys 4.151; ESTC R188627; EBBA 21815. Gender – marriage, courtship, femininity, masculinity; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Family – children/parents; Emotions – longing, sorrow, contentment; Employment – sailors/soldiers, crafts/trades; Nature – sea; Places – travel. Peggy, a married women, runs off with a soldier, but returns home within three months and seeks forgiveness of her husband (picture placement: in a heavily smudged version, she stands alongside a Declaiming Man, just beneath the title).

The Woman to the Plow AND The Man to the Hen-Roost (J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84). Pepys 4.100; ESTC R26474; EBBA 21764. Employment – agrarian; Gender – marriage; Humour – domestic/familial, mockery; Society – rural life. A rural couple swap their duties with disastrous consequences (picture placement: she stands next to a Declaiming Man beneath the title and, on the right side of the sheet, another woman is depicted, next to a How-de-do-man, in a very similar stance).

An excellent Ballad of the Mercers Son of Midhurst , issued on sheet with A Ballad Intituled, The Old Man's Complaint against his Wretched Son (J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684-86). Pepys 1.541; ESTC R234225; EBBA 32615. Family – children and parents, pregnancy/childbirth; Gender – marriage; Society – old and young; Emotions – sorrow, anger; Death – suicide. A father passes on his inheritance to his son so that he can marry but is subsequently maltreated by the cruel couple, until they get their comeuppance (picture placement: she appears beneath the title of the second song, alongside a Declaiming Man).

The Maidens Complaint against Young-Mens Unkindness (J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684-86).  Pepys 3.220; ESTC R188526; EBBA 21233. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – anger. A maiden complains about the inconstancy of her sweetheart and advises women to love one another rather than men (picture placement: she appears alongside Cupid, who aims his arrow at her).

A New Ballad, shewing how a Prince of England, loved the Kings Daughter of France (I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684-86).  Pepys 1.514-15; ESTC R234210; EBBA 20244. Gender – courtship, marriage, femininity; Family – children/parents; Crime – murder, robbery; Death – unlawful killing, grief; Emotions – love, sorrow; Morality – familial; Politics – foreign affairs; Royalty – authority, incognito; Violence – interpersonal. The French king’s daughter runs away to meet her sweetheart but tragedy befalls him and she re-builds her life as the wife of a humble forester (picture placement: she stands facing the King of France on the left side of the sheet).

The Skilfull Doctor of Glocester-shire; OR, A New way to take Physick (J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1684-86). Pepys 1.531; ESTC R234220; EBBA 20253. Gender – marriage, adultery; Humour – deceit/disguise, extreme situations, misunderstanding, bawdry; Employment – professions; Family - Pregnancy/ childbirth; Bodies – health/sickness. A man impregnates his maid-servant and then hires a doctor to help deceive his wife and escape blame (picture placement: she appears on the right side of the sheet, next to a Declaiming Man and alongside three other small generic pictures of men and women).

David and Bersheba (W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1687-88). Pepys 2.31; ESTC R234249; EBBA 20654. Religion – Bible, divine intervention, sin/repentance; Gender – adultery; Royalty – authority, criticism; Morality – romantic/sexual; Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing; Emotions – longing; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Politics – power; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Violence - interpersonal. David impregnates the wife of one of his own military captains and is duly punished by God for his sin (picture placement: she stands next to a seated king, just below the title). See below for another edition.

The Love-Sick Maid: Or, Cordelias lamentation for the absence of her Gerhard (A. M., 1682-1708). Pepys 3.324; ESTC R227258; EBBA 21339. Gender – courtship, Cupid; Bodies – health/sickness; Death – illness; Emotions – sorrow; Religion – heaven/hell. Cordelia dies in anguish and Gerard declares his readiness to follow her to the grave after arriving on the scene too late to save her with a lover’s kiss (picture placement: she appears beneath the title, to the right of a man who holds out his hand towards her).

A NOBLE RIDDLE Wisely Expounded (W. Thackeray, E. M. and A. M., 1690-92). Pepys 3.19, ESTC R188690; EBBA 21012. Gender – courtship, sex; Places – Scotland. A young knight has sex with a young lady but only agrees to marry her if she can solve a set of riddles (picture placement: in a smudged version, she appears beneath the title, next to a Declaiming Man).

David and Bersheba (no imprint, 1695?).  Roxburghe 2.98; ESTC R228177; EBBA 30564. Religion – Bible, divine intervention, sin/repentance; Gender – adultery; Royalty – authority, criticism; Morality – romantic/sexual; Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing; Emotions – longing; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Politics – power; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Violence - interpersonal. David impregnates the wife of one of his own military captains and is duly punished by God for his sin (picture placement: she stands in between a seated king and a townscape featuring the hand of God, just below the title). See above for another edition.


Another very common image of a woman who holds out her fan in a similar manner can be seen on A Warning to all lewd Livers, An Excellent Ditty of the Shepherds wooing Dulcina and on other ballads in most of the relevant collections.

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

Literary scholars have noted the points of contact between this ballad and The witch of Edmonton, a play of 1621 by Thomas Dekker, John Ford and William Rowley (it was not printed until 1658). The main sub-plot in the play does indeed share numerous features with the ballad’s narrative: a young gentleman marries a maid-servant in secret, knowing that his father will disapprove; he then marries again, this time to a woman chosen for him by his father for economic reasons; he subsequently stabs his second wife outdoors after she asks him what is troubling him; next, he wounds himself and tries to blame the murder on an attack by thieves; his crime is discovered and the story ends with his execution. Both texts also include an explicit warning about the dangers of ‘forc’d marriage’. There is probably enough here to suggest that the connections between the play and the ballad were more than coincidental.

There are also differences, of course. The play is set in Edmonton (Middlesex) and the ballad in Lancashire. The playwrights do not kill off the gentleman’s first wife, nor his father. In the play, the first wife is pregnant but the ballad makes no mention of a baby. The ballad’s ‘Lancashire gentleman’ tells his father that he has chosen the maid-servant as his wife but the equivalent character in the play keeps this information to himself (the father in the ballad is therefore particularly reprehensible because he deliberately forces his son to abandon his first vow). And the crimes and deceptions of the play’s bigamist are encouraged by a devil in the form of a dog who makes no appearance in the ballad.

It seems likely that the play preceded the song, though we cannot be sure of this. An excellent Ballad was first registered with the Stationers’ Company in 1624 – three years after the composition of the play - but it may already have been around for some time (the publishers who block-registered a list of ballads in 1624 were asserting their rights over lucrative titles, suggesting perhaps that the song about the Lancashire gentleman had already proved itself in the marketplace). The edition of c. 1624 is lost, and it would not be a surprise if earlier versions had also gone missing. It is therefore almost equally possible that the playwrights picked up their subplot from the ballad.

Christopher Marsh


Glenn H. Blayney, ‘Enforcement of marriage in English drama (1600-1650)’, Philological quarterly 38 (1959), pp. 459-72.

Thomas Dekker, John Ford and William Rowley, The witch of Edmonton, ed. Lucy Munro (2016), introduction.

David Nicol, ‘”I knew not how to call her now”: The bigamist’s second wife in The witch of Edmonton and All’s lost by lust’, Comparative drama 50.4 (Winter, 2016), pp. 317-39.

Hyder E. Rollins, An analytical index to the ballad-entries (1557-1709) in the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London (1924; Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1967), nos. 1530 and 2786.

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An excellent Ballad, Intituled, the unfortunate love of a Lancashire Gentleman,/ and the hard fortune of a fair young Bride. The tune is, Come follow my Love

[We have not recorded this song because the tune is unknown]


LOo[k] you faithful Lovers

on my unhappy state,

See my tears di[  ]tlling [‘distilling’ in other editions],

but powered out too late.

And buy not foolish fancy

at too dear a rate,

Alack for my love I shall dye.


My father is a Gentleman

well known of high Degree,

Tender of my welfare

evermore was h[e]:

He sought for reputation

but ah the worse for me,

a lack &c.


There was a proper Maiden,

of favour sweet and fair,

To whom in deep affection

I closely did repair,

In heart I dearly lov’d her

lo thus began my care,

a lack &c,


For Nature had adornd her

with qualities Divine,

Prudent in her actions

and in behaviour fine

Upon a sweeter Creature

the Sun did never shin e

alack &c.


Nothing wanted in her

but this the grief of all,

Of birth she was but lowly

of substance very small

Assimle [‘A simple’ in other editions] hired servant

and subject to each call.

al[a]ck, &c.


Yet she was my pleasure

my joy and hearts delight

More r[i]ch then any treasure,

more precs[io]us in my sight,

At length to one another

our promise we did plight,

alack. &c,


And thus unto my Fath[e]r

the thing I did re[v]eal

Desiring of his favor

nothing I did conceal,

But he my dear affection

regarded never a deal

alack &c.


Qd. he thou graceless fellow

thou art my onely Heir

And for thy own preferment

hast thou no better care,

To marry with a begger

that is both poor and bear.

alack, &c.


I charge thee on my blessing

thou do her sight refrein,

And that into her commany

you never come again.

That you should be so married

I take it in disdain.

alack, &c,


Is there so many Gentlemen

of worshipfull Degree

That have most honest daughters

of bearte ['beauty' in other editions] fair and free,

& can none but a beggers brat

content and pleasure thee,

alack, &c.


By God yt [ie that] made all creatures

this vow to thee I make

If thou do not this Begger

refuse and quite forsake

From thee thy du inheritance

I wholly mean to take,

alack, &c.


These his bitter speeches

did sore torment my mind

Knowing well how greatly

he was to wrath inclin’d

My heart was slain with sorrow

no comfort I could finde.

alack &c


Then did I write a Letter

and send it to my Dear

Wherein my first affection

a[l]l changed did app[e]ar,

which from her fair eyes forced

they pearled water clear

alack &c.


For grief unto the Messenger,

one word she could not speak

Those doleful heavy tydings

her gentle heart did break.

yet sought not by her speeches

on me her heart to wreak

alack &c.


This dred within my conscience

tormented me full sore

To th[i]nk upon the promise

I made her long before.

And for the true performance

how I most deeply swore.

alack &c.


I could not be in quiet

till I to here did go

Who for my sake remained

in deadly care and woe

And unto her in secret

my full intent to show,

alack &c.


My sight rejoyced greatly

her sad perplexed heart

From both her eys on suddain

the trickled tears did start.

And in each others bosome

we breathed out our smart,

alack &c.


Unknown unto my Father

or any friends besides.

Our selves we closely married

she was my onely Bride

Yet still within her service

I caused her to abide,

alack &c.


But never had two Lovers

more sorrow care and grief

No means in our extremity

we found for our relief

And now what farther hapned

here followeth in brief,

alack c&,


NOw you Loyal Lovers

attend unto the rest,

See by secret marriage

how sore I am opprest,

For why my full misfortune

herein shall be exprest,

alack for my love shall I die.


My father came unto me

upon a certain day.

And with a merry countenance

these words to me did say

My son quoth he come hither,

and mark what I shall say

alack &c,


Seeing you are disposed

to lead a wedded life

I have unto thy credi[t],

provided thee a wife

where thou maist liv delightful

without all care and strife

alack &c.


Master Senecks Daughter

most beautifull & wise

Three hundred pound her portion

may well thy mind suffice,

And by her friends & kindred

thou maist to credit rise

alack, &c.


This is my son undoubted

a match for thee most meet,

She is a proper Maiden

most delicate and sweet

Go wo her then and wed her

I shal rejoyce to see’t,

alack, &c.


Her friends and I have talked

and thereon have agreed,

Then be not thou abashed

but speedily proceed.

Thou shalt be en[t]ert[a]ined

and have no doubt to speed.

alack &c.


O pardon me dear Father,

with bashful look he said,

To enter into marriage,

I sorely am affraid,

A single life is lovely

therein my mind is staid,

alack &c.


When he heard my speeches

his anger did arise

He drove me from his presence

my sight he did despise,

And straight to di[s]inherit me

all means he did devise.

alack &c.


When I my self perceived

in that ill case to stand,

Most lewdly I consented

unto his fond demand

And married with the other

and all to save my Land:

alack &c.


And at this haplesse marriage

great cost my friends did keep

They spared not their Poultry

their oxen nor their sheep

Whilst joyfully they danced

I did in corner weep.

alack &c.


My conscience was tormented

which did my joyes deprive

Yet for to hide ym sorrow

my thoughts did alwaies strive

Quoth I what shame will it be

to have two wives alive,

alack &c.


O my sweet Margaret

I did in sorrow say

Thou knowst not in thy service

of this my marriage day,

Though here my body resteth

with thee my heart doth stay

alack &c.


And in my meditation

came in my lovly Bride

With chains and jewels trim’d

and silken Robes beside,

Saying why doth my true love

so sadly here abide

alack &c.


Yea twenty lovely kisses

she did on me bestow

And forth abroad awalking

this lovely M[a]id did go

Yea arm in arm most friendly

with him that was her Fo

alack &c.


But when that I had brought her

where no body was near

I imbrace her most faisly [‘falsely’ in other editions],

with a most feighned che[e]r

Unto the heart I stabbed

this Maiden fair and clear

alack &c.


My self in wofull manner

I wounded with a knife,

And laid my self down by her

by this my married wife

And said that Thieves to rob us

had wrought this deadly strife

alack &c.


Great wailing & great sorrow

was then upon each side

In woful sort they buried

this fair and comely bride

And my dissimulation,

in this was quickly try’d,

alack &c.


And for this cruel murder

to death that I am brought

For this my aged Father

did end his days in tuought [‘nought’ in other editions],

My Mergaret at these tidings,

her own destrucion wrought,

alack &c.


Lo here the doleful peril

blind fancy brought me in

And mark what care & sorrow

forc’d marriage doth bring

All men by me be warned

and Lord forgive my sin.

alack &c.   FINIS.


Printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson.

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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: not included.

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Pavier and partners, 1624 (as 'looke you faithfull lovers' from first line; Coles, Vere, Wright and Clarke, 1675; and Thackeray, 1689 ('Alack for my Love' from refrain).

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 9

No. of extant copies: 9

New tune-titles generated: 'Alack for my love' (3 ballads).

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases: 11 references, with no evidence of later collection as a folk-song (Roud no. V8325).

POINTS: 0 + 30 + 0 + 18 + 9 + 6 + 0 + 1 = 64

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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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