> Martin Carthy > Songs > (Man of) Newlyn Town / The Flash Lad
> The Watersons > Songs > Adieu, Adieu (The Flash Lad)
> Eliza Carthy > Songs > Adieu, Adieu

Newlyn/Newry Town / Adieu, Adieu / The Flash Lad /
The Rambling Blade

[ Roud 490 ; Laws L12 ; G/D 2:260 ; Ballad Index LL12 , CrMa161 ; Bodleian Roud 490 ; Wiltshire Roud 490 ; trad.]

Jack Elliott and Derroll Adams sang Rich and Rambling Boys in 1958 as the title track of their Topic album The Rambling Boys. This track was also reissued in 1964 on their album Roll On Buddy and in 1995 on Elliott's CD Ramblin' Jack.

Bob Scarce of Blaxhall, Suffolk sang Newlyn Town on the anthology Fair Game and Foul (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 7; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1970).

Harry Cox sang Newlyn Town in a recording made by Peter Kennedy on his eponymous 1965 EFDSS album, Harry Cox.

Dave and Toni Arthur recorded A Rich and Rambling Boy in 1965 as The Strollers. This track was included in 2009 a a bonus track of the CD reissue of their album Morning Stands on Tiptoe.

Martin Carthy sang Newlyn Town in 1966 on his Second Album. A live recording with Dave Swarbrick at the Folkus Folk Club in 1966 was released on Both Ears and the Tail and on the anthology The Carthy Chronicles. Martin Carthy commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

The ballad-mongers at public executions in the 18th century used to do a roaring trade in songs purporting to be the “Criminal's Last Goodnight”, often in the form of a confession or apologia. This was a great period for the villain-hero, especially for highwaymen. The Beggar's Opera talks of the “the youth in the car hath the air of a Lord”, and we say “there dies an Adonis”. The whole attitude is summed up in Clever Tom Clinch Going to Be Hanged by Jonathan Swift.

Hedy West sang Rake and Rambling Boy in 1966 on her Topic album Pretty Saro and Other Appalachian Ballads. This album was reissued in 2011 as part of her Fellside CDs Ballads and Songs from the Appalachians.

Roger Nicholson sang Newlyn Town in 1972 on his Trailer album Nonesuch for Dulcimer.

Walter Pardon sang The Rambling Blade in his cottage in Knapton, Norfolk, on May 11, 1974 in a recording made by Bill Leader. It was published in the following year on his Leader album A Proper Sort. An alternate take was included in 2000 on his Topic anthology A World Without Horses. A further recording was included in 2007 on the accompanying CD of The Folk Handbook.

The Watersons sang Adieu, Adieu in 1975 on their album For Pence and Spicy Ale. A.L. Lloyd commented in the liner notes:

The ace and the deuce of robber songs. English, Irish, American versions abound. Some mention “Fielding's gang,” a reference to the semi-official police force organised by the novelist and magistrate Henry Fielding and his blind half-brother John, about the middle of the eighteenth century. Our present set comes from Barrett's English Folk Songs (1891). Its unusual “Welladay” refrain evokes the underworld of Hanoverian England with its shabby finery and grubby lace.

Jumbo Brightwell sang this song as Newry Town in 1975 on his Topic LP Songs from the Eel's Foot: Traditional Songs and Ballads from Suffolk; this recording was later included on the anthology O'er His Grave the Grass Grew Green (The Voice of the People Series Volume 3; Topic 1998).

Roy Bailey learned Adieu, Adieu from Songs of the Midlands, edited by Roy Palmer, and sang it in 1976 on his album New Bell Wake.

Clive Collins sang Adieu, Adieu Hard Was My Fate in 1976 on the Living Folk album Here's a Health to the Man and the Maid.

Fairport Convention recorded Adieu, Adieu several times, e.g. in 1977 on their album The Bonny Bunch of Roses (reissued on Fiddlestix), on Fairport unConventioNal, on The Boot and on It All Comes Round Again.

Gordon Hall sang In Horsham Town in a recording made by John Howson in 1987. It was published in 1987 as the title track of the Veteran cassette In Horsham Town: Songs from a Sussex Singing Family, and it was included in 1993 on the Veteran CD Stepping It Out: Traditional Folk Music, Songs and Dances from England.

John Wright sang Adieu, Adieu in 1993 on his Fellside CD Ride the Rolling Sky.

Eliza Carthy sang Adieu, Adieu on her 1998 album Red and on the Topic anthology And We'll All Have Tea. Eliza also sang this in 1998 live at the Cambridge Folk Festival.

Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick sang The Flash Lad in 1998 on Brass Monkey's third album Sound and Rumour; this track was included a year later on the Topic anthology English Originals. Martin Carthy commented in the original recording's sleeve notes:

The Ned Fielding who shows up in the The Flash Lad is the same man who, as Henry Fielding, was, and is, loved for his novels. But, as much as he was loved by readers, so was he hated by those who came in contact with what became known as his Gang, who were organised by him as an early police force in London - and a brutal bunch they were.

Brian Peters sang The Rambling Blade in 2001 on his CD Lines.

Pete Morton sang a version with modernised lyrics, Damn the Day, in 2001 on Ashley Hutchings' CD Street Cries: A Collection of Dark Traditional Songs Re-set in the Present Day.

Dr Faustus sang Newry Town in 2003 on their Fellside CD The First Cut.

Eliza Carthy sang Newry Town in 2004 on Waterson:Carthy's fifth album, Fishes & Fine Yellow Sand. The album notes commented:

The songs here, with one exception, are about people who, whether or not they were born under a Bad Sign, certainly come—one way or another—under the Bad heading. Therefore it's almost a given that the songs about them are far more interesting if only because I don't believe anybody ever managed to write a song convincing anyone that the Stepford life was the life to live. Well not someone who lived out their life this side of imbecilic. Therefore welcome to the land where baddies rule. And to the story of the tragic Good Time Boy from Newry Town who just robbed a few people who had far too much of everything. Did them a favour really. Less for them to worry their pretty little heads about. And one does what one has to for one's girl friend who so likes shopping. Sooo likes it. The song is featured on the Voice of the People series of CDs coming from the repertoire of the great Suffolk singer Jumbo Brightwell and is to be found under a wealth of titles from Adieu Adieu (or Willow Day), to The Flash Lad, to the title here. These songs of terminal regret were literally two a penny in the 17th to 19th centuries. The ballad writers of the time would sell the songs under the gallows just as the unfortunate crime was getting his or her deserts—just or otherwise—right there and right then. Here in its cradle is the modern music industry. And let us not imagine that this infant would need any lessons in ruthlessness from its modern descendants/offspring, for then, as now, another day was another dollar.

And Ed Pellow noted:

The novelist Henry Fielding (perhaps best known for his book Tom Jones) was appointed Justice of the Peace for Middlesex and Westminster in 1748. In 1749, along with his blind half-brother John, Fielding established the “Bow Street Runners” who also became known as the “gang”. Fielding worked hard on reducing crime and his “gang” were both a forerunner of, and model for Robert Peel's police force of 1829.

The reference to “Cupid's Garden” in the song is a corruption of “Cuper's Garden”. Cuper's Garden was a park on the south side of the Thames opposite Somerset House. It was closed in 1753 “in consequence of the dissoluteness of its visitors.”

For whatever reason the song spread widely, with numerous versions having been reported in England, Ireland and the United States. A.L. Lloyd (1967) comments that “Nearly every surviving traditional singer in England with anything like a decent repertory knows a version of The Flash Lad.” This version was collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset.

Mike Bosworth sang this song as Highway Man in 2005 on his album of songs from the Baring-Gould Collection, By Chance It Was, accompanied by John Kirkpatrick on accordion.

Martin Simpson sang Adieu, Adieu in 2005 on his Topic CD Kind Letters. He commented in his liner notes:

In my final school year I studied Henry Fielding's novel, Tom Jones, a picaresque tale—that is, the story of a picaroon, or rogue. The Flying Cloud is certainly that, as is Adieu, Adieu, which may be the only song to mention by name Henry Fielding's brother, Ned, who was a bad cop of the day. I first heard this from the Watersons and then learned the tune while on tour with Martins 4. It was one of Mr Carthy's favourite warm-up vehicles at the time, greatly interspersed with magnificent throat-clearings. Again, Roy Bailey's […] album became the final lyric source. I have always loved the attitude of the young man in this song, because he is so fill of life at facing death.

Lisa Knapp sang this song as Wild and Undaunted in 2007 as the title track of her CD Wild and Undaunted.

Jack Crawford sang The Rambling Blade in 2008 on his WildGoose CD Pride of the Season. He commented in his liner notes:

Learned from the singing of Walter Pardon as recorded by Bill Leader at Walter's home in Knapton, Norfolk, in May 1974. There are many broadside variants of this song, often referring to Newry or Newlyn Town, or Stephen's Green, and all agree that our hero was a “wild and wicked youth”. Walter once told Peter Bellamy that this was his favourite song, the best folksong ever written. It was probably learned from his uncle Billy Gee who was the source of many of Walter's songs.
In memory of Sid Long (1953-2005), who had his own version but liked to hear me sing Walter's.

Sara Grey sang Rake and Rambling Boy in 2009 on her Fellside CD Sandy Boys.

Nick Wyke & Becki Driscoll found The Robber in the Cecil Sharp Collection and sang it on their 2009 CD Beneath the Black Tree.

Andy Turner learned The Rambling Blade from the singing of Walter Pardon and sang it as the October 13, 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lucy Farrell and Alasdair Roberts of The Furrow Collective sang Wild and Wicked Youth on their 2014 album At Our Next Meeting. She commented in their sleeve notes:

A ‘goodnight’ ballad from the gallows of Tyburn, which were near Mable Arch in London. I first heard Chris Coe perform this song on a singing weekend in Stroud. I remember thinking the tune was brilliant—it stuck in my head for ages. Later I found this version in Vaughan Williams' Bushes and Briars collection, sung by a Robert Hurr.

Hurr's version was also printed in the EFDSS's Singing Histories: London, which explained:

Robert Hurr’s Wild and Wicked Youth is another example of the popular ‘goodnight ballads’. It mentions ‘Fielding’s Gang’, which was London’s first police force (also known as the Bow Street Runners). Set up in 1749 by the author Henry Fielding, who was also a magistrate at Bow Magistrates Court, it was London’s first formalised law enforcement agency. It was financed centrally through the courts, unlike the more common ‘thief-takers’, who solved petty crime on a freelance basis.

Sung to Vaughan Williams on the 24th November 1910 in Southwold, Suffolk, this song can be found in Blyth Voices, Folk Songs Collected in Southwold by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1910, published by EATMT (2003).

Kate Locksley sang Newry Town in 2016 on The Night Watch's eponymous EP The Night Watch. They commented on their website:

Also known as The Newry Highwayman and Newlyn Town (Roud 490), this song is sometimes referred to as a ‘goodnight ballad’, and tells of the capture and demise of an otherwise rather cheerful highway robber. This was one of those songs that just happens out of nowhere. We'd all heard it before, and as were messing about during a rehearsal the chord pattern emerged, then so did the words. After a few verses, Rusty Galley appeared. We liked it all, so we kept it.


Harry Cox sings Newlyn Town Waterson:Carthy sing Newry Town

In Newlyn Town I was bred and born,
At Stephen's Green where I died of scorn.
I served my time as as saddler trade
And I always was a roving blade.

In Newry Town I was bred and born,
In Stevenstown I died for scorn.
I signed myself to a saddler's trade
And they always called me a roving blade.

At seventeen I took a wife
And I loved her dearly as I loved my life.
All for to keep her both fine and gay
A-robbing I went on the king's highway.

At seventeen I took a wife,
I loved her dear as I loved my life.
And to maintain her both fine and gay
A-robbing I went upon the King's highway.

I robbed Lord Golden, I do declare,
And Lady Mansfield on Grosvenor Square.
I robbed them of their gold so bright
And I took it home to my heart's delight.

I robbed Lord Golden, I do declare,
I robbed Lady Mannon; it was in Grosvenor Square.
Putting the shutters up, I wished them good night,
Then I carried the gold home to my heart's delight.

To Covent Garden we went straightway,
Me and my wife, we went to the play.
Ned Fielding's gang there did me pursue,
Taken was I by that curs-ed crew.

To Covenant Garden I then did go,
All for my bride and to see the grand show.
But Fielding's gang they did me pursue,
And taken I was taken by that accursed crew.

My father cried, “I am undone!”
My mother cried for her darling son.
My pretty damsel, she tore her hair,
Saying, “What shall I do, for I am in despair?”

My father cried for his only son,
My wife, she cried, “Oh, I am undone.”
And my mother, she tore her grey locks and she cried,
“Oh, I wish in his cradle that he had died.”

Now when I'm dead and go to my grave,
A decent funeral let me have.
Six highwayman for to carry me,
Give them broadswords and sweet liberty.

Six blooming maidens to carry my pall,
Give them white gloves and it's ribbons all.
And six highway men for to carry me
Give them broadswords and sweet liberty.

Six highwaymen for to bear my pall,
Give them white gloves and sweet ribbons all.
And when I'm gone, they will tell the truth:
“Here lays a wild and wicked youth.”

And when I'm dead and I'm going to my grave
A decent funeral please let me have.
When I'm in my grave they will speak the truth,
“There goes a wild and a wicked youth.”

Martin Carthy sings Newlyn Town The Watersons sing Adieu, Adieu

In Newlyn Town I was bred and born
At Stephan's Green there I die in scorn
I served me time at the saddling trade
𝄆 And I was always 𝄇 a roving blade

Adieu, adieu, hard was my fate,
I was brought up in a tender state.
Bad company did me entice,
I left off work and took bad advice.

At seventeen I took a wife
And I loved her dear as I loved me life
To keep her happy both night and day
𝄆 I went a robbing 𝄇 on the broad highway

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Which makes me now to lament and say,
Pity the fate of young felons all
Well-a-day, Well-a-day

I robbed Lord Golding I do declare
And Lady Mansfield in Grosvenor Square
I shut the shutters and bid them good night
𝄆 And home I took my loot 𝄇 to my heart's delight

I robbed Lord Goldwyn, I do declare,
And Lady Masefield of Grosvenor Square.
I shut the shutters and bid them goodnight
And away I went to my heart's delight.

To Covent Garden we went straightway
To Covent Garden to see a play
Ned Fielding's gang there did me pursue
𝄆 And I was taken 𝄇 by that cursed crew

Before Judge Holden I was took,
Before Judge Holden I was tried.
Then Harry Jones said, “This will not do,
My iron chest you have broken through.”

And when I'm dead and go to my grave
A fine and flashy funeral let me have
With six bold highwaymen to carry me
𝄆 give them broadswords 𝄇 and sweet liberty

And when I'm dead and going to me grave
No costly tombstone will I crave.
Six bonny lasses to carry my pall
Give them broadswords, gloves, and ribbons all.

Oh six pretty doxies to carry my pall
Give them white ribbons and gloves and all
That when I'm gone they will tell me true
𝄆 There goes a wild young man 𝄇 and a wicked youth

Brass Monkey sing The Flash Lad The Furrow Collective sing Wild and Wicked Youth

In London town I was bred and born;
In the Tyburn's Ground there I died of scorn.
I served my time to a saddler's trade
I was always counted but a roving blade.

When I was eighteen I took a wife.
I loved her dearly as I loved my life.
And to maintain her both fine and gay
𝄆 I went a-robbing 𝄇 on the King's highway.

For at seventeen I took a wife,
I loved her dearly as I loved my life.
All for to maintain her both fine and gay
I took up a-robbing on the King’s Highway.

I never robbed any woman yet
And I was never in a tradesman's debt.
But I robbed the lords and the ladies gay
𝄆 To carry home the gold 𝄇 to my love straightway

I robbed Lord Dukes, I do declare,
And lovely Nancy with the golden hair.
We shuttered up the shutters and bid them goodnight
Then we carried the gold to our heart’s delight.

To Cupid's Garden I did away,
To Cupid's Garden to see the play.
Lord Fielding's gang there did me pursue
𝄆 And I was taken 𝄇 by that cursed crew

Through Covent Garden I made my way,
With my pretty blowen to see the play.
Till Fielding’s gang did me pursue
Taken was I by the cursed crew.

My father cried, “Oh my darling son,”
My wife she wept and cried, “I am undone.”
My mother tore her white locks and cried
𝄆 “Oh in his cradle 𝄇 he should have died.”

And when I'm dead and go to my grave
A flashy funeral oh let me have.
Let hundred bold robbers follow me,
𝄆 Give them good broadswords 𝄇 and liberty.

When I am dead and carried to my grave
A pleasant funeral let me have:
Six highwaymen to carry me,
Give them broadswords and sweet liberty.

Let six pretty maidens bear up my pall
And let them have my cloaks and ribbons all.
That they may say when they speak the truth,
“There goes a wild youth,
There goes a wild and a wicked youth.”

Six blooming girls to bear up my pall,
Give them white gloves and pink ribbons all.
And when I’m dead they may tell the truth:
There goes a wild and a wicked youth.


Greer Gilman transcribed Adieu, Adieu, John Chatterton did some corrections. The Flash Lad was transcribed by Garry Gillard.