The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #40638   Message #3043648
Posted By: Jim Dixon
30-Nov-10 - 12:50 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Lay the Lily Low / Jack Munro
Subject: Lyr Add: JACK MUNRO
From The Kentish Garland, Volume 2 edited by Julia H. L. De Vaynes (Hertford: Stephen Austin & Sons, 1882), page 628+.


Jack Munro

The exploits of female warriors furnished a favourite topic for ballad-mongers, the predominance being given to the adventures of nautically-disposed damsels, who followed the fortunes of their lovers, like Billy Taylor's sweetheart, the Female Tar, or the heroine of New York Streets, and others of a like description. In the introduction to the ballad of The Female Warrior (Bagford Ballads, pp. 323-325, edited by J. Woodfall Ebsworth, M.A.), he mentions the following ballads on women-soldiers, beside the ever-popular Mary Ambree: The famous Woman Drummer (Roxb. Coll., III. 234), Couragious Betty of Chick Lane (Ibid., II. 92), and The Woman Warrior (Wit and Mirth; or Pills to Purge Melancholy, iii. 88, 1707; v. 8, 1719), which last he quotes entire. To this list of female notables will be added Pitts's 'slip song' heroines of The Female Drum-Major (="Come, listen to my story"), and Polly Oliver's Ramble (="As pretty Polly Oliver lay musing in her bed"): both of which he is to give from earlier broadsides in his Roxburghe Ballads. Most collections of lives of singular characters, give well-authenticated biographies of female soldiers, sailors, and marines. James Grant remarks that

To attest recruits at once, without the many formalities of medical inspections and so forth, was common in those days [he is treating of the period before Minden] and for long after. Had it been otherwise, the public would not have been favoured with the memoirs of Phoebe Hassel, who served seven years in H.M. 5th Foot, or of Mrs. Christian Davis, another woman who served in all the battles of Marlborough, as a trooper in the Scots Greys, who had her head fractured by the splinter of a shell at Ramilies, and who enjoyed a pension of one shilling per diem till she died, and was buried with military honours in the grounds belonging to Chelsea Hospital.—[Second to None, single vol. ed., p. 38.)

Mr. Grant gives as his authority in a foot-note the Records of the Scots Greys, pages 49-51, and states that Phoebe Hassel ["Hessel" she is styled in her epitaph,] served in the West Indies, and at Gibraltar. The inscription on her tomb in the churchyard of St. Nicholas, Brighton, further informs us that she fought in 1745 under the Duke of Cumberland at Fontenoy, where she received a bayonet-wound in her arm. She was born at Stepney in 1713, and died at Brighton on December 12, 1821. We have so few reports of good actions from the same source that it is worthy of remark that George IV (who pronounced her "A jolly old fellow,") allowed her half-a-guinea a week, and had offered to double the amount, which she refused, saying half that sum was sufficient to maintain her. An interesting account of this remarkable woman, and a copy of her epitaph, appeared in the Leisure Hour, December 8th, 1877. Our Kentish heroine, the pseudo-Jack Munro, was as valorous as Mary Ambree herself, and the rapidity of her promotion from full private to the rank of major was only a just tribute to her merits.

[British Museum Garland of New Songs, 11621, a. 3, art. 45.]


In Chatham town there liv'd a worthy merchant man,
He had an only daughter, as you shall understand;
This lady she was courted by many a noble knight,
But there's none but Jack the sailor could gain her heart's delight.
Could gain, &c.

Her waiting-maid standing by, unto her father went,
And told him the whole secret, his daughter's whole intent.
He call'd on his daughter with pride and disdain,
Saying, "Good-morrow, Mrs. Frazer!" this was her true love's name.

"Is this the news, my daughter, that I have heard of thee?
Young Jack he shall be pressed, and you confined be!"
"It's here is my body, you may it then confine,
But there's none but Jack the sailor can gain this heart of mine!"

"It's here is twenty guineas, I give it to thee
If that you'll press young Jack to the wars of Germany."
Jack is on board, with a sore and troubled mind,
For the leaving of his country, and his darling close confin'd.

"As Jack has gone on board, him no more will I see.
I will wed at your disposal, if you will set me free."
It's now she's set at liberty, dress'd in man's array,
Looking for an officer to carry her away.

"Your name we must have, sir, before on board you go?"
"That you shall have quickly, it is Jack Munro."
This lady's gone on board with a sore and troubled mind,
To land on French Flanders, it is her whole design.

Now she's landed over, reviewed for to be;
Standing in the ranks her own true love she did see:
She stepped up unto him, and thus to him did say,
"By the features of your face an Englishman you be.

"If that you are willing, whatever shall betide,
I'll be your loving comrade, and lie down by your side."
The drums did beat, and the trumpets did sound,
Unto the field of battle they were called along.

She fought on with valour, she fought courageously,
Till a bullet from the French caused her darling down to lie;
She fought on with valour, she fought courageously,
Till two privates and officer that day by her side did die.

The officers took notice, and unto her did say,
"For the valour you have shewn preferred you shall be,
A major's commission on you we'll bestow,
And you may push your fortune, brave Jack Munro."

Looking through the wounded men, her own true love did see;
She says, "My loving comrade, they have preferred me,
A major's commission on me they will bestow,
The doctor that can cure you shall be paid by bold Munro.

She called for a minister, and bade them step aside,
And she would call them up again when that she woo'd her bride,
"It's I'll not be groom, but groom's man I'll be,
For I never will be married till my Molly I do see."

She stripped down her snow-white breasts some private mark to show,
Saying, "Jack, won't you marry me, it's dear Jack don't you know?"
The drums did beat and the trumpets did sound,
And home to Old England they were all call'd along.

It's now they're landed over, the people went to see,
Saying, "Yonder comes the heroes from the wars of Germany."
As they were walking up street her father she did know,
Saying, "Good old merchant, will you list with Munro?"

"I have no time to tarry, I have no time to talk,
But I do not like that vagabond that by your side doth walk."
It's out bespoke her mother, "I had a daughter fair,
There's not a feature in your face but does resemble her."

It's now they are got married, and she lies by his side,
The officers and privates begrudge Jack of his bride;
When the queen she heard of this, she laughed heartily,
Saying, "Here is five hundred guineas I'll give it to this lady!"

Newcastle upon Tyne: Printed by J. Marshall, in the Old Flesh-Market.