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Ladies Don't Go A-Thieving

[ Roud V28087 ; trad.]

This song is from the Halliard's album The Halliard : Jon Raven; originally published in 1968 and reissued on CD in 1997. Later, this recording was also included in the Halliard's CD Broadside Songs.

Bandoggs, with Nic Jones and Tony Rose, recorded Ladies, Don't Go Thieving! with slightly different verses in 1978 for their eponymous album, Bandoggs.

Lyrics

Oh don't we live all in curious times,
You scarce would be believing,
When Frenchmen fight, aye, and emperors die,
And ladies go a-thieving.

A beauty from the West End went,
Around the shops then she lingers.
And there upon some handkerchiefs
She wraps her pretty fingers.

For thieving is a wicked trade
As I to you will state now;
If a poor man stole a penny loaf
They'd send him off to Newgate.

He'd get six months all in Newgate Gaol,
In roguery he was dealing,
But here's a lady all in a veil
Who rambles out a-thieving.

The draper peered all beneath the shawl,
He said, “What d'you mean now by this then?”
And very quickly she was in the hands
Of one of them new policemen.

Her husband when he heard the news
Began to shout and to curse her;
He said he'd take his whip to her
And make her fingers blister.

For thieving is a wicked trade
As I to you will state now;
If a poor man stole a penny loaf
They'd sent him off to Newgate.

(repeat first verse)

The Bandoggs' version is similar. They sing the chorus after each verse. They have “lights” instead of “wraps”, “veil” for “shawl”, “soon” for “quickly”, and the husband “swore” for “said”.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Garry Gillard for transcribing the lyrics. He based it on Ladies Go A-Thieving at the Mudcat Café.