THE Unfaithful Servant; AND The Cruel Husband.


THE Unfaithful Servant; AND The Cruel Husband.


Being a perfect and true account of one Judith Brown, who together with her Master Iohn Cupper, conspired the Death of her Mistris, his Wife, which accordingly they did accomplish in the time of Child-bed, when she lay in with two Children, by mixing of her Drink with cruel Poyson; for which Fact she received due Sentence of Death at the late Assizes in the County of Salop, to be Burned; which was accordingly Executed upon the Old Heath near Shrewsbury, on Thursday the Twenty-first day of August, 1684.


A maid, in love with her master, conspires to poison her mistress shortly after she has given birth. It does not mention the sentence of the husband. (he is hanged in chains)

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Pepys Ballads 2.151; EBBA 20769. Audio recordings by (1) Hannah Sullivan, (2) EBBA.

Set to tune of...


YOung Maidens all beware, that sees my Dismal state,
Endeavour now to shun the Snare, before it is too late.
I was a Servant Maid, and liv'd most happily,
Until at last I was betray'd, to this Debauchery.
Too late I do lament, my very heart doth bleed,
That ever I did give consent, to that most wicked deed.
My yielding to his ways, his wicked base desire,
Yea, by that means I end my days, in cruel flames of Fire.
Our Sins was at their grow, that none but them we blame,
To be indeed the cause we both did end our days in shame.
We could not be content, with what we first had done,
But afterwards we did invent, in worse extreams to run.
Then with my Master I, did take the cause in hand,
Resolv'd my Mistris she should dye by our most cruel hand.
Her Life we did betray, to satisfie our will.
When she alas! in Child-bed lay, poor Soul she thought no ill.
Strong poyson we contriv'd
this was our hanious Sin,
That she of Life might be depriv'd pool Soul when she lay in.
My conscience strove with me, but I a wicked elf,
Desired that my Master he, should give it her himself.
But we did disagree, as you may understand,
For Conscience would not suffer me to put it in her hand.
Though neither he nor I, had power to do this deed,
Yet all this would not satisfie, but still we did proceed.
In what she was to drink we mixt the poyson strong.
That she might take it & not think, the least of any wrong.
By which at length she dyed, and I was left behind,
To dye a cruel death beside, the horror of my mind.
Alas! you may behold,
my sad and dismal doom,
Both hands & heart, and e'ry part, in flames you'l see consume.
The Sorrow of my heart, in this extremity,
Although it is my due desert, I do for mercy cry.
Farewel my wordly Friends, and my offences foul,
Good Lord forgive me all my sins, have mercy on my Soul.
In this devouring flame, my life must now expire,
Alas my sins I needs must blam[e]
I end my days in fire.
To you that come to see, a woful sinners fall,
O let those cruel flames now be, a warning to you all.
By me a warning take, and do not run astray,
And God will never you forsake, if you his Laws obey.

Method of Punishment






Execution Location

Old Heath, near Shrewsbury

Printing Location

Printed for J. Deacon, at the Angel in Guilt-spur-street, without Newgate.

Tune Data

Reference: The Rich Merchant Man (Simpson 1966, pp. 602-604), or George Barnwell


See also:
A just account of the horrid contrivance of John Cupper, and Judith Brown his servant, in poysoning his wife. [microform] Who were tryed at the assizes held at Shrewsbury; Cupper to be hang'd in chains, and Judith Brown to be burnt. Together with their dying confessions. Published by me William Smith, rector of Bitterley, their minister, to prevent false reports. (NLA, copy of BL and Bodleian originals, on EEBO)


Una McIlvenna The Unfaithful Servant.mp3


“THE Unfaithful Servant; AND The Cruel Husband.,” Execution Ballads, accessed February 22, 2024,

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