It was in the Queen’s County, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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It was in the Queen’s County I was tenderlie rearéd
Until I arrived at the age on nineteen;
Though my parents were poor they no cost on me sparéd
For well educated with them I had been.

For the want of employment I then took a notion
To sail o’er to Britain my fortune to try;
With courage undaunted I crossed the wide ocean,
Not thinking for murder in Scotland to die.

Still thinking in Scotland high wages I would earn
I went across hills for to cut a railway;
I lodged in a place they call the Aghanerins
With a man that’s well known and he’s the name of Gray.

It was on a frosty morning on the fourth day of December
We got a strange ganger the name of Green;
We had some angry words and so well I remember
He paid us all off there no more to be seen.

Then we all agreed for to give him a beating
And off to the bridge there with them I did go;
Before it struck daylight on him we stood waiting
Of our bad intention he little did know.

Then as he came forward those words he repeated,
– Good morning, my friends, we will have a fine day,
When his skull with a poker it was instantlie broken:
When the deed it was done sure we all ran away.

Then off to Liverpool where I happened to mention
What I had done to a false-hearted friend
And one hundred pounds was for our apprehending,
You will hear how it happened when my song is end’.

Six weeks in his house he kept me under cover,
He solemnlie swore he would ne’er me betray,
When off unto Greenock he quickly sailed over,
He got us apprehended that very same day.

Then back unto Greenock a prisoner we were taken
And bound in strong chains to our trial came on,
And twenty-one days was allowed for repentance;
I am sorely grievéd for what I have done.

Pat Rodden, James Ackey and I got one sentence
All for to die on the fourth day of May;
Since I heard my sentence my heart it’s near broken,
Our time on this world is fast fading away.

Now farewell my friends, for my foes I forgive them,
I hope all young men will take warning from me;
For my sad misfortune my friends they’re all grieving,
I die at the age now of thirty and three.


Riotous incidents involving Irish workmen and farm labourers were common in nineteenth-century Britain: a better-known, less lugubrious, song on the subject is Eddie’s ‘English harvest’. The present song has not turned up in any other version, though it is a ‘farewell’ ballad of sufficient merit to retain interest when the identity of the condemned man is forgotten. Some circumstances might lead to an eventual discovery of the occasion described. The ‘Aghanerins’ are mystifying, and Liverpool has probably replaced a less familiar Scottish town. The use of rhyming odd as well as even lines is noteworthy. A piece so well made can hardly have otherwise perished. Though undoubtedly composed by an Irishman, it may perhaps have circulated mainly in Scotland.