[...] / For which fact, he, his wife, and the other woman, were executed at Lanceston, last Lent Assizes, [...]


[...] / For which fact, he, his wife, and the other woman, were executed at Lanceston, last Lent Assizes, [...]


in chaines neere vnto the place where the murder was done.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Shelfmark: Pepys Ballads 1.360-361; EBBA 20169

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The Ladies Daughter, also known as Bonny Nell


A Cruell Cornish Murder,
I briefely will declare,
at your attention further, my Story wondrous rare,
[A]nd doe not thinke tis fayned, because it seemeth strange,
What hath not Satan gained, when men from God doe range?
[...]t Crowen in that County, an old blind man doth dwell,
Who by good peoples bounty, did live indifferent well,
By name he's ca'ld Carnehewall , his house stood all alone,
Where [ke]pt this d[ee]d so cruell, the like was scarce ere knowne.
He had a proper Damsell that liv'd with him, his daughter,
To whom some suiters came still, and in true wedlocke sought her,
Because the newes was bruited, how that the blind man would,
Though he were poore reputed) give forty pounds in gold.
Oh, then bewitching money, what mischiefe dost thou cause,
Thou mak'st men dote upon thee, contrary to Gods Lawes.
What Murder is so hainous, but thou canst find out those,
Tha[t] willingly for gaine thus, will venter life to lose.
Nay often soule and body, as in this Story rare,
By the sufferance of God, I will punctually declare:
The fame of this mans riches, a Vagrant chanc't to heare,
In haste his fingers itches, away the same to beare.
This bloody murderous Villaine, whose fact all manhood shames,
Did live long time by stealing, his name was Walter James ,
Who with his wife, and one more yong woman, and a boy,
Three Innocents in purple gore, did cruelly distroy.
The twenty sixth of July , when it was almost night,
These wanderers unruly, on this lone house did light,
The old blind man was then abroad, and none but his old wife,
And a little Girle, ith' house abode, whom they depriv'd of life,
At first they ask'd for Vittle: quoth she, with all my heart,
Although I have but little, of that you shall have part;
He swore he must have money, alas, here's none she sed;
His heart then being stony, he straight cut off her head.

And then he tooke her G[irl child?] about some seven yeer[s old?]
Which he (oh monster [revil'd?)] by both the heeles did [hold?]

And beate her braines o[n the bed?]
oh barbarous cruelty,
The like of this I never [read?] in any history.

When they those two ha[d murder'd?] and tane what they de[sired?]
Like people fully [...], with joy, they sate by t[he fire?]

And tooke Tobacco mer[rily?] without all feare or dr[ead]
Knowing no house nor to[...] and while these two l[ay dead?]

In came the blind mans d[aughter] who had beene workin[g ?]
And seeing such a slaught[er] she wondrously was s[...]

No marvell, when her M[other?]
lay headlesse on the floor
Her zeale she could not [smother?] but running out oth' doo[r]

His Sword which lay ot[...] with her she tooke, an[...]
As fast as she was able,
she ran to call some folk[...]
To come and see the murd[er?] but after her he stept,
And ere she went much fur[ther]
he did her intercept.
[...] (oh stony-hearted wretch)
And into th' house he brought her: (what sighes alas I fetch,
To thinke upon this Tragedy) for he with mischeife stor'd,
Cut off her head most bloodily, with th' piece oth' broken Sword.
Thus did three harmlesse innocents
by one vile Caitiffes hand
With both the counsell and consents, oth' woman of his band:
Their heads and bodies laid they all very close together;
And being gone a little way, they did at last consider,
That if the house were burned,
the murder might be hid,
With that they backe returned, and as they thought, they did,
Setting the house on fire, which burned till next day,
Full many did admire,
as they went on the way.
These murtherers suspected that people would have thought,
Those three ith house enclosed, unto their deaths were brought,
By accident of fire, but God did then declare
His power [...] let's admire his wondrous workes most rare.
The murdered corps remained, as if no fire had beene,
Their clothes with blood besmeared, not burnt, as might be seene:
The leg and arme oth' Maiden, were only burnt in sunder,
Full many people said then, ith' middest of their wonder.
That surely there were murdered, by some that robd them had,
And presently twas ordered, that for this deed so bad,
All Vagrants on suspicion,
should apprehended be,
And in this inquisition, one happened to see,
Some clothes upon the parties, that from this house we[re] tane
And some before a Justice, the little boy told plaine,
All things before that passed: also the boy did say,
James was ith mind to kill him, lest he should all betray,
They taken were at Meriwicke , forty five miles, or more,
From Crowen where the murth[er]er was about a moneth before, Where in the Jayle they lay,
Untill the Lend Assize did come, which tooke their lives away[.]
The little Boy was quitted,
and sent unto the Parish,
Where he was borne, well fitted,
with clothes and food, to cherish
Him, as he ought with honesty and leaves his wandering trade:
The other three were doom'd to dye, on that which he had said.
But Walter James denyed, that ere he did that act,
For swearing (till he dyed, and when he dy'd) that fact
His wife at her last ending, confest the bloody guilt,
So monstrously offending, when so much blood was spilt.
The other woman after confest more plainely all:
James tooke his death with laughter and nere to God did call:
Thus as he liv'd a reprobate, and did God great reject,
His soule with Christ bought at deare rate, in death he did neglect.
He was hang'd dead at Lancestone , among the rest that di'd,
Then carried where the deed was done, and by the high-way side,
He hangeth, for example, in chaines now at this time,
Thus have I shew'd the ample discourse of this foule crime.
Objection may be framed, where was the old blind man:
Whom I have never named since when I first beganne.
He was abroad ith' interim, when this mischance befell,
Or else the like had hapt to him, but he is living still.
And goes about the Country, to begge, as he before
Did use, among the Gentry, and now his need is more.
All you that are kind Christians, thinke on this bloody deed.
And crave the Lords assistance, by it to take good heed.

The names of certaine eminent men of the
Countrey, for confirmation of the verity
of this tragicall Story.
John Albon. John Coade.
William Beauchamp. Ezekiel Treureu.
William Lanyon. John Blithe.
William Randall. John Treyeene.

Composer of Ballad

Martin Parker

Method of Punishment

Hanging in chains





Printing Location

London Printed for F. Coules




“[...] / For which fact, he, his wife, and the other woman, were executed at Lanceston, last Lent Assizes, [...],” Execution Ballads, accessed April 25, 2024, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/834.

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