Captain Grant

DESCRIPTION: Singer, an apprentice in Northamptonshire, takes to highway robbery and is imprisoned in Edinburgh. Escaping, he hides in a wood, but is betrayed by a woman and reimprisoned. He prays for mercy on his soul and for his wife and children.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1839 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(4211))
KEYWORDS: captivity betrayal crime execution prison punishment robbery escape gallows-confession family outlaw prisoner
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Aug 29, 1816 - Jeremiah Grant executed for burglary (source: Knapp and Baldwin [see Notes]).
FOUND IN: Britain(England)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Williams-Thames, pp. 216-217, "Captain Grant" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 323)
MacSeegTrav 91, "Captain Grant" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, CAPTGRNT*
ADDITIONAL: Tim Coughlan, Now Shoon the Romano Gillie, (Cardiff,2001), pp. 411-412, "Captain Grant the Highwayman" [English text reported by Sharp]

Roud #1286
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Harding B 11(4211), "Captain Grant" ("My name is Captain Grant I make bold for to say")[Note [1]] , J. Catnach (London), 1813-1838; also Harding B 11(536), 2806 b.11(60), 2806 b.11(61), "Captain Grant"[Note [1]]; also Harding B 11(537), Harding B 11(538), "Captain Grant"[Note [2*]]; Harding B 11(539), "Captain Grant, the Highway Robber"[Note [3]]
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Bold Captain Grant
NOTES: The Bodleian texts are fairly close but can be divided into three variants. In all three a woman is the cause of the singer's capture -- similar in that aspect to "General Monroe"/"General Owen Roe" -- but even closer to "Whisky in the Jar." All three variants begin "with my brace of pistols and trusty broad sword, Come 'stand and deliver,' was always the word." [1] Captain Grant escapes from Maryborough/Marlborough prison; "With my metal bolts, I knocked the sentry down, And made my escape out of Maryborough town ... Until a wicked woman did us betray, She had us surrounded as a sleeping we lay." [2] Captain Grant, an admitted robber, escapes from Edinburgh jail where he was sentenced to be hanged "For sheltering M'Kay Although I had no hand in that robbery ... But there was a wicked woman that did me betray, And I was surprised as asleep I did lay. I was surrounded -- away I could not get, They seized my arms for my powder was wet." [3] Like [2] but with the "Whisky in the Jar" theme: "Not finding my sword, then my pistols I took, But she had wet my powder, I was forced to give up."
Apparently the [1] broadside variant is not too far from true. The song would have Grant give half his proceeds to the poor. Whether it actually came to that or not, "his improvident liberality secured for him the esteem and blessings of the lower orders.... At every farmer's table he was welcome, and the cottages that gave him shelter were sure of reward; for he freely shared the contributions he obtained with danger." "With the ladies he was a second Macheath [re 'Beggar's Opera'], and more wives than one claimed him for their husband." He escaped from Maryborough jail through the bars that he had cut from the window. He was recaptured in Wexford -- though whether betrayed by a woman is not stated -- and sent back to Maryborough, Queens County, tried, convicted and executed. (Source: "Jeremiah Grant Executed for Burglary" in Andrew Knapp and William Baldwin, The Newgate Calendar (London, 1828 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. IV, pp. 185-187).
See also Tim Coughlan, Now Shoon the Romano Gillie, (Cardiff,2001), #159, pp. 411-412, "If you Diks up a Funy'Chel" [Romani-English fragment reported by Merrick]. - BS
Last updated in version 2.6
File: McCST091

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.