Iohn Spenser his Repentance in Prison, Written with his owne hand as he lay in Chester Castle.


Iohn Spenser his Repentance in Prison, Written with his owne hand as he lay in Chester Castle.


John Spenser in a drunken rage, hits Randall Gam who dies from his injuries seven weeks later. Gam has many supporters who succeed in having Spenser convicted of murder and hanged in chains.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Shelfmark: Pepys Ballads 1.115; EBBA 32619

Set to tune of...

Rogero, which is also known as Slumbring Sleepe


KInd Youngmen all mee give eare,
observe these lessons well;
For undeserved my death I tooke,
and sad is the tale I tell.
I prisoned pent, I lie full fast,
sure Heaven hath decreed:
That though I thrived, yet at last,
bad fortunes should proceed.

I that for practise passed all,
in exercises strong,
Have he ere for one offence but small.
been pent in Prison long.
Kind Countrymen, fa ire warning take,
beeing bad, amend your lives,
For sure Heaven will them forsake,
that doe forsake their wives.

I have a wife, a loving wife,
a constant, and a kind;
Yet proud of gifts, I turnd my life,
and falce she did me find:
Heaven shewed his part in making me,
proper in limbes and face,
Yet of it I no true use made,
but reapt thereby disgrace.

For being proud in dancings art,
most womens loves I gaynd:
By them a long time was my life
in gallant sort maintaynd:
No Mayden young, about the towne,
but joyful/ was to see
The face of Spenser and would spend,
all for to daunce with mee.

I spent my time in Ryoting,
and proudly led my life,
I had my choyce of damsels fayre,
what card I for my wife,
If once she came to intreat me home,
i 'd kick her out of doors,
Indeed I would be ruld by none,
but by intising whores.

At length being pledging of a Glasse,
my hopes I did confound:
And in my rag I feld my friend,
with one blow to the ground.
For this offence, he being dead,
and I in Prison cast:
Most voyd of hopes this rashing hand
hath Spensers name disgrast.

None but my wife will visit me,
for those Ilov 'd before,
Being in this sad extremytie,
will visit me no more,
No helpe I find from these false friends,
no food to inrich my life:
Now doe ! find the difference true,
twixt them and a constant wife

But she poore soule, by my bad meanes,
is quit bereft of all:
She playes the part of a Constant wife,
although her helpes be small.
Young men, youngmen, take heed by me
shun Dangers, Brawles, and Strife:
For though he fell against my will,
I for it loose my life.

0 live like men and not like me,
of no good giftes be proud:
For if with you God angry be,
from his vengeance nought can shroud.
Make use of what you have practis'd well.
and not in vitious meanes,
If in rare gifts you do excell,
yet trust not Vitious Queanes.

For lust doth fully fill their Vaynes,
and apt they be to intise:
0 therefore shunne their company,
like good men still be wise.
Example truely take of me,
all Vitious courses shunne:
For onely by bad company,
poore Spenser is undone.

F I N I S. by John Spenser.

Method of Punishment

hanging in chains




Execution Location

Burford, near Nantwich

Printing Location

Imprinted at London for I. Trundle




“Iohn Spenser his Repentance in Prison, Written with his owne hand as he lay in Chester Castle.,” Execution Ballads, accessed July 17, 2024,

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