Here's adieu to all judges and juries!
Here's adieu to you baliffs also!
Seven years you've parted me from my true love,
Seven years I'm transported you know.
"Oh! Polly, I'm going for to leave you,
For seven long years, love, or more;
But the time it won't seem but one moment,
When I think on the girl I adore.
Going to a strange country don't grieve me,
Nor leaving old England behind;
But it's all for the sake of my Polly love,
And a-leaving my comrades behind.
And if ever I return from the ocean,
Stores of riches I will bring you, my dear;
It's all for the sake of my Polly love,
I'll cross the salt seas without fear."
How hard is the place of confinement,
Which keeps me from my heart's delight;
Cold chains and cold irons all around me,
And a plank for my pillow at night.
Oftentimes I have wished that some eagle,
Would lend me her wings for to to fly,
I would fly to the arms of my Polly love,
Once more in her bosom to lie.
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Source: Purslow, F, (1972), The Constant Lovers, EDFS, London
Frank Purslow's notes are as follows:
Gardiner Hp. 308.George Blake, St Denys, Southampton, May 1906.
Once extremely popular, but now almost forgotten, it probably had its origins in the early music halls. Some collected versions do seem to be of an earlier date, but a stage origin still seems likely. The tune is sometimes sung in the Mixolydian mode. The composer of Wrap me up in my old Tarpaulin Jacket - Whyte Melwille - appears to have been unconsciously aware of the tune when he composed his. I have slightly rearranged the order of Blake's verses to agree with the usual order.
Found only a few times in tradition, and not outside England; but for a broadside text without tune included by James N. Healy in his Old Irish Street Ballads (1967), localised as The Newry Transport.
The song appeared on broadsides in (mainly) the first half of the 19th century, under a number of titles, largely variations on Farewell to your judges and juries and Justices and Old Bailey. Several can be seen at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:
Here's adieu to your judges and juries
A set noted by W. Percy Merrick from Henry Hills of Lodsworth, Sussex, in 1900, appeared in The Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol.I issue 3, 1901 p.135. Martin Carthy recorded an arrangement of this on his album Landfall (1971), with some material added.
It appears that the American Prisoner's Song may be in part based on this; as may be Botany Bay, a burlesque written by H.P. Stephens and W. Yardley for the comedy Little Jack Shepherd (1885) which subsequently became popular in the Music Halls and, of course, in Australia where the play was also staged not long after.
Roud: 300 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Related Songs: Adieu to Old England (thematic)