> Steeleye Span > Songs > Jack Hall

Jack Hall / Sam Hall

[ Roud 369 ; Laws L5 ; Ballad Index LL05 ; trad.]

Jack Hall is an old broadside ballad printed by Birt, London, c. 1833-1851 about the gallows confessions of a chimney sweep turned robber and murderer. It is catalogued at Bodleian Ballads as Harding B 15(145a). The song is also known as Sam Hall.

Steve Benbow sang Jack Hall in 1960 in a recording made by Peter Kennedy at Cecil Sharp House, London on the HMV album A Jug of Punch: Broadside Ballads Old and New.

Jack Endacott of Chagford, Devon sang Jack Hall on the anthology Fair Game and Foul (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 7; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1970).

Walter Pardon sang Jack Hall in a recording made at home in Knapton, Norfolk, by Mike Yates on August 2, 1976. This was released in 1982 on his Topic album A Country Life and in 1988 on the Topic anthology It Fell on a Day, a Bonny Summer Day (The Voice of the People Volume 17).

Steeleye Span recorded Jack Hall with a tune composed by their singer and guitar player, Bob Johnson, for their 1989 album Tempted and Tried. It was also released as B-side of the single The Fox. The album's sleeve notes commented:

Jack Hall, who had been sold to a chimney sweep fur a guinea, was executed for burglary at Tyburn (Marble Arch) in 1701 … the passage of time and the oral tradition made a hero out of a loser.

At least three live recordings of Jack Hall with several Steeleye Span line-ups are or were available:

David Gibb and Elly Lucas recorded Sam Hall in 2012 for their debut CD Old Chairs to Mend. Elly Lucas commented in their liner notes:

Another one of those delightful folk songs where the lead character dies and yet somehow manages to continue singing in first person… Distinctly suspicious.

Lyrics

Walter Pardon sings Jack Hall

My name it is Jack Hall, chimney sweep, chimney sweep,
My name it is Jack Hall, chimney sweep.
My name it is Jack Hall and I've robbed both great and small,
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die, when I die.
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die.

All on the King's highway night and day, night and day,
All on the King's highway night and day,
All on the King's highway I've robbed lords and ladies gay,
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die, when I die.
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die.

I've one hundred pounds in store, that's no joke, that's no joke,
I've one hundred pounds in store, that's no joke,
I've one hundred pounds in store and I'll rob for hundreds more
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die, when I die.
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die.

At the trial they told me, “You shall die. You shall die.”
At the trial they told me, “You shall die.”
And they flung me into gaol where I'll drink no more strong ale,
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die, when I die.
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die.

They drove me up Tyburn hill in a cart, in a cart,
They drove me up Tyburn hill in a cart,
They drove me up Tyburn hill, that's where I made my will.
The best of friends must part; fare you well, fare you well,
The best of friends must part; fare you well.

Up the ladder I did grope, that's no joke, that's no joke,
Up the ladder I did grope, that's no joke.
Up the ladder I did grope and the hangman fixed the rope.
But never a word said I coming down, coming down,
But never a word said I coming down.

Steeleye Span sing Jack Hall

Oh, my name it is Jack Hall, Jack Hall.
Oh, my name it is Jack Hall, Jack Hall.
My name it is Jack Hall and I've robbed both great and small.
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die, when I die.
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die.

Oh, I've twenty pounds in store and that's not all.
Oh, I've twenty pounds in store and that's not all.
Oh, I've twenty pounds in store and I'd kill for twenty more.
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die, when I die.
And my neck shall pay for all, when I die.

Oh, I rode up Tyburn Hill in a cart.
Oh, I rode up Tyburn Hill in a cart.
Oh, I rode up Tyburn Hill and 'twas there I made my will,
Saying, “The best of friends must part, so farewell, so farewell.”
Saying, “The best of friends must part, so farewell.”

Up the ladder I did grope, that's no joke.
Up the ladder I did grope, that's no joke.
Up the ladder I did grope and the hangman spread his rope.
But never a word I spoke, coming down, coming down.
But never a word I spoke, coming down.

Acknowledgements and Links

Thanks to Patrick Montague for correcting the Steeleye Span lyrics.

See also the thread Origins: Sam Hall at the Mudcat Café.