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Newry Highwayman, The - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

The Newry Highwayman is a song that goes by several names - sometimes it's called 'The Roving Blade', or 'The Wild and Wicked Youth', or sometimes just plain old 'Newry Town'.  Whatever the title though, in my personal opinion, it has one of the best lyrics of any folk song ever written.  What a story!  A boy of modest means takes to the life of a Highwayman to cater for his wife's expensive tastes.  He experiences the elation of success, but is then caught, and - we suppose - is to be hanged.  I love the pathos as he recounts his mother's words: "...in the cradle you should have died."  If that's your mother's point of view, then your position is truly hopeless.  And yet still he wishes for a glamorous funeral.  Yes, there are some inconsistencies if you look closely: Newry and Stephen's Green are both in Ireland, whereas Covent Garden and Grosvenor Square are in London, England.  So either the song or the highwayman travelled.  (A song this good was always likely to travel.)  But it is a truly wonderful tale.  Literature buffs may be interested to know that 'Lord Fielding' was probably the novelist, Henry Fielding.  As well as his literary claims to fame, he was also responsible for founding the Bow Street Runners ("Lord Fielding's gang") - who were the forerunners - no pun intended - of London's Police force.

Chords

Capo at 5th Fret

                 D                   C              G
In Newry town, I was bred and born,

                        D                   C       G
In Stephen's Green now I lie in scorn.


                    
Am              C              D
I served me time at the saddling trade,

                G        C          D
I always was a roving blade.

               G         C         G
I always was a roving blade.

Lyrics

In Newry town, I was bred and born,
In Stephen's Green now I lie in scorn.
I served me time at the saddling trade,
I always was a roving blade.
I always was a roving blade.

At seventeen I took a wife,
I loved her dearer than I loved me life;
And so to keep her both fine and gay
I went out robbing on the King's highway.

I went out robbing on the King's highway.

I never robbed a poor man yet,
Nor any tradesman caused I to fret
But I robbed lords and ladies bright
I carried the gold home to me heart's delight.
I carried the gold home to me heart's delight.

I robbed Lord Golding I do declare,
And Lady Mansel in Grosvenor Square;
I closed the shutters and bid them good night.
I carried the gold home to me heart's delight.
I carried the gold home to me heart's delight.

To Covent Garden I made my way,
With me dear wife for to see the play;
Lord Fielding's gang they did me pursue,
And I was taken by that cursed crew.
Yes I was taken by that cursed crew.

My father cried, "My darling son."
My wife she cried, "Now, I'm undone."
My mother tore her locks and cried,
"It's in the cradle you should have died.
"It's in the cradle you should have died."

When I am dead, and want for me grave
A flashy funeral pray let me have;
Six highwaymen to carry me.
Oh give 'em broadswords and sweet liberty.

Oh give 'em broadswords and sweet liberty.

Six pretty maidens to bear my Pall,
Give them white garlands and ribbons all.
And when I'm dead they'll speak the truth,
He was a wild and a wicked youth.

He was a wild and a wicked youth.

Other English Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs