Andrew Moar       [The constant Lovers, aka Jimmy and Nancy of Yarmouth]    SA1971.218.13

This ballad of 54 verses must have proved extremely popular at one time – dealing as it does with the themes of constancy of love, parental opposition, a rich temptress, the murder of a seaman at sea, his returning ghost and the eventual death of his love, Nancy, by suicidal drowning.  In this respect it was rather like a soap opera and it was printed in a huge number of broadsheets and chapbooks and in song collections both in Britain and the Americas.

Andrew  performed just just five verses on this occasion, but we’ve inserted verse four, which he omitted, and appended a continuation of the tale, both printed in the version Jemmy and Nancy from an American source – The Forget-Me-Not Songster (Philadelphia, 1840 pp. 86–92 ). Andrew Poleson remembered and sang just one verse of this ballad which he called Jimmy and Nancy.
(The Roud Index no.187  lists 172 sources).

Lovers, I pray lend an ear to my story
Take an example by this constant pair
How love a young maiden who’s bright in her glory,
Beautiful Nancy of Yarmouth we hear.

She was a rich merchant’s only daughter, 
Heir unto fifteen hundred a year. 
A young man who courted her called her his jewel. 
Son of a gentleman who lived near. 

Many long years this young maid he admired; 
When they were infants in love they agreed, 
But when of age this young couple arrived 
Cupid an arrow between them displayed.

[They made a promise for to be married, 
But when their parents the same came to know 
They took their beautiful charming daughter 
Separated apart that base and severe. ]

Her father said, “Give o’er your proceedings ; 
For if against our way you do wed, 
Really for ever we mean to disown you 
 If you marry  one who is so mean bred.” 

Her mother said, “You have a rich fortune;  
Besides, you are beautiful, charming and young. 
You are a match, my darling and jewel
For any lord that is in Christendom.” 

“I need……Now that’s about all I know…..”


Then did reply this beautiful virgin, 
‘Riches and honor I both do defy ; 
If that I am denied of my dearest love 
Then farewell this world, which is all vanity. 

‘Jimmy is the man that I do admire, 
He is the man that I do adore ; 
For to be greater I never desire ; 
My heart is fixed to love no more.’ 

Then said her father,  ‘Tis my resolution, 
Altho I have no more daughters but you, 
If that with him you are resolved to marry. 
Banished from me you forever shall be.’ 

‘Well, cruel father, but still I desire. 
Grant me that Jimmy once more I may see. 
Tho you do part us, I still will be loyal, 
For none in the world I’ll admire but he.’ 

He sent for the young man in a passion. 
Saying, ‘Forever, now, sir, take your leave. 
I have a match more fit for my daughter. 
Therefore ’tis but a folly to grieve.’ 

‘Honored father,’ then said the young lady, 
‘Promised we are by the powers above. 
Why of all comforts would you bereave? 
Our love is fixed, never to remove.’ 

Then said the father, ‘A trip on the ocean 
Jimmy shall go in a ship of my own. 
I’ll consent that he shall have my daughter 
When to fair Yarmouth again he returns.’ 

‘Honored father,’ then said the two lovers, 
‘Since it is your will we are bound to obey; 
Our constant hearts can never be parted 
But our eager desire no longer must stay.’ 

Then beautiful Nancy said. ‘Dearest Jimmy, 
Here, take this ring, the pledge of my vows; 
With it my heart — keep it safe in your bosom, 
Carry it with you wherever you go.’ 

Then in his arms he did closely infold her. 
Whilst crystal tears like fountains did flow, 
Crying, ‘My heart in return I do give you, 
And you shall be present wherever I go. 

‘When on the ocean, my dear, I am sailing. 
Thoughts of my jewel thy compass shall stay, 
Those tedious times shall discover 
And bring me safe to the arms of my dear. 

‘Therefore be content, my lovely jewel; 
For, by the Virgin, if you are untrue 
My troubled ghost shall forever torment you ; 
Dead or alive, I’ll have none but you.’ 

Her arms around his neck did twine, 
Saying, ‘My dear, when you’re out on the sea. 
If that fate should prove cruel, 
That we should each other no more see, 

‘No man alive shall ever enjoy me; 
Soon as the tidings of death sings my ears 
Then like a poor and unfortunate lover 
Down to the grave will go to my dear.’ 

Then with a sorrowful sight they parted. 
The wind next morning blew a pleasant gale ; 
All things being ready, the same Mary galley, 
And for Barbodions he straight did sail. 

Jimmy was floating upon the wide ocean. 
Her cruel parents was plotting the same while 
How the heart of their beautiful daughter 
With cursed gold strive to beguile. 

Many a lord of fame, birth, and breeding 
Came for to court this young beautiful maiden, 
But all of their presents and favors she slighted. 
‘Constant I’ll be to my jewel,’ she said. 

Now for a while we will leave this fair maiden 
And tell how the things with her lover did go. 
In the Island of Barbodoins the ship safe arrived, 
But now observe this fatal overthrow. 

Young Jimmy was comely in every feature. 
A Barbodious lady whose riches was great 
On him fixed her eyes; then she cried, ‘If I get not 
This English sailor, I’ll die for his sake.’ 

She then dresses herself in gallant attire. 
With costly diamonds she plaited her hair ; 
A hundred slaves dressed in white to attend her ; 
Sent for this young man to come to them there. 

‘Come, noble sailor,’ she cried, ‘can you fancy 
A lady whose fortunes and riches are great? 
A hundred slaves you shall have to attend you, 
Music to charm you to your solemn sleep. 

‘In robes of gold I will deck you. my dear. 
Pearls and rich jewels I’ll lay at your feet; 
In chariots of gold you shall ride at your pleasure ; 
If you can love me, then answer me straight.’ 

Amazed with wonder while gazing she stood, 
‘Forbear, young lady,’ at length he replied ; 
‘In fair England I have vowed to a lady 
At my return to make her my bride

‘She is a charming young beautiful creature.
She has my heart, and I never can love ;
I bear in my eyes her sweet lovely features :
No other charmer on earth I adore.’

Hearing of this she did rave in distraction.
Crying, ‘Unfortunate maid ! thus to love
One that does basely slight all my glory
And of my possessions will not approve.

‘Lords of renown their favors I have slighted;
Now must I die for a sailor so bold.
I must not blame him because he is constant.
True love, I find, is much better than gold.’

A costly jewel she instantly gave him,
Then in trembling hands she took a knife.
One fatal blow before they could prevent her
Quickly put an end to her life.

Great lamentation was made for this maiden.
Jimmy onward the ship he did steer.
Then for fair England homeward was sailing
With a longing desire to meet his dear.

But when her father found he was coming
A letter did write to the boatswain his dear
Saying, ‘A handsome reward will I give thee
If you will the life of young Jimmy end.’

Void of all promises and for the sake of money
The cruel boatswain the same did comply ;
As they on the deck was lonely a-walking
He suddenly plunged him into the deep.

In the dead of the night while all was a-sleeping
His troubled ghost to his love did appear
Crying, ‘Arise, young beautiful Nancy,
Perform the vows you made to your dear.

‘You are my own, so tarry no longer.
Seven long years for your sake I did stay.
How many does wait to crown us with pleasure !
The bride-guests are ready ; therefore come away.’

She cried, ‘Who is there under my window?
Surely it is the voice of my dear!’
Lifting her head from her soft downy pillow,
Strait to the casement she did repair.

By the light of the moon that brightly was shining
She spied her true love ; then he to her did say,
‘Your parents are sleeping; before they awaken,
Stir up, my dear creature, you must come away.’

‘Oh Jimmy,’ she cried, ‘If my father shall hear you
We should be ruined ; therefore quickly repair
To the sea side and I will quickly meet you ;
With my own maid I’ll come to you there.’

Her nightgown embroidered with silver and gold
Carelessly around her body she throws.
With her two maids indeed to attend her
To meet her true lover she instantly goes.

Close in his arms the spirit did enfold her.
‘Jimmy,’ she said, ‘you are colder than clay.
Surely you cannot be the man that I admire ;
Paler than death you appear unto me.’

‘Yes, fairest creature, I am your true lover,
Dead or alive you are to be my own.
I come for your vows, my dear; you must follow
My body to my watery tomb.

‘I for your sake did refuse gold and treasure,
Beauty and riches for you I despise.
A charming young lady for me did expire ;
Thinking of you, I was deaf to her cries.

‘Your cruel parents have been my undoing.
And now I sleep in a watery grave.
And for your promise, my dear, I am sailing.
Dead or alive, you I must have.’

The trembling body was so affrighted,
Amazed she stood near the brink of the sea.
With eyes lift to heaven she cried, ‘Cruel parents.
Heaven regret you for your cruelty !

‘Indeed I promise, my dearest creature.
Dead or alive I would be your own ;
And now to perform my vows I am ready
To follow you down to your watery tomb.’

Her maidens heard her sad lamentations
But the apparition it could not see.
Thinking the lady had fell in distraction,
He strove to persuade her contented to be.

But still she cried, ‘I am a-coming.
Now on thy bosom I’ll fall asleep.’
When this she had spoken, this unfortunate lady
Suddenly plunged herself into the deep.

When to her father the maid told the story
He wrung his hands and cried, ‘What have I done!
O dearest child, it was thy cruel father
That did provide thee a watery doom !’

Two or three days being then expired.
Those two unfortunate lovers were seen
In each other’s arms on the water was floating
By the side of the ship on the watery main.

The cruel boatswain was struck with horror ;
Straight did confess the deed he had done.
Showing the letter that came from her father
That was the cause of these lovers’ doom.

On board the ship he was tried for murder
And at the yardarm he was hanged for the same.
Her father broke his heart for his daughter
Before the ship to harbour came.

Thus cursed gold has caused destruction.
Why should the rich strive after gain?
I hope this story will be a caution
That cruel parents may never do the same.

True love is better than jewels or treasure
Riches can never buy true love you know, ,
But this young couple lov’d out of measure,
Which was the occasion of their overthrow.