Two young lovers, Nancy and Jemmy, from Yarmouth, are not allowed to wed by her rich parents who seek a more fitting match. The father sends Jemmy on a ship to the Americas where a rich lady falls in love with him. When he spurns her because of his love for Nancy she kills herself. During his return to England, Nancy's father bribes the boatswain to murder him by drowning. His ghost appears to Nancy and asks her to join her in a watery grave; she agrees. The boatswain confesses to his part in the murder of Jemmy, and is hanged at the Yard-Arm.

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British Library - Roxburghe, C.20.f.558-559; EBBA 31259


LOvers, I beg lend an Ear to this Story, See an Example in this constant Pair;
How Love a Virgin did blast in her Glory, Beautiful Nancy of Yarmouth, we hear.
She was a Merchants charming Daughter, Heiress to fifteen hundred a Year.
A young Man courted her to be his Jewel, Son to a Gentleman who lived near.
Many Years he courted this Jewel; When Infants in Love they both agreed;
And when to Age this Couple arrived, Cupid an Arrow between them displayd.
Their tender Hearts were linked together; But when her Parents the same did hear,
They to their charming beautiful Daughter Acted a Part most base and severe.
Bidding her give over her Intentions, For if against their Consent she did wed,
Forevermore they resolvd to disown her, If she wed one that was so meanly bred.
Her Mother said, You are a great Fortune, Besides, you are young and handsome;
You are a Match, dear Child, that is fitting For ever a Lord in Christendom.
Then made answer this handsome Daughter, Riches and Honour I do defy;
If Im deprivd of my dearest Lover, Then farewel World, it is all Vanity.
Jemmys the Man whom I do admire, He is the Riches whom I adore;
To be a Great one I never desire, My Heart is fixed to have no more.
Then said her father, Tis my Resolution, Altho I have no more Daughters than thee,
If that with him you resolve to marry, Banishd for evermore thou shalt be.
For the young Man he sent in a Passion, And said, For evermore now take thy leave,
[I] have a Match more fit for my Daughter, Therefore it is in vain thus for to strive.
Honoured Father, thus said the Maiden, Promisd we are by the Powers above;
Then of all Pleasures do not bereave me, Our Love is fixed never to remove.
Then, said her Father, a Trip to the Ocean You shall go in a Ship of my own;
And I consent you shall have my Daughter, When to fair Yarmouth you do return.
Honoured Sir, then said the Lovers, Since tis your Will, we must obey;
Our constant Hearts shall never be parted, But our Desires no longer must stay.
Than Nancy said, dearest Jemmy, Here take this Ring the Pledge of my Vows,
With it my Heart keep safe in your Bosom, And bear it with you wherever you go.
Then close in his Arms he did enfold her, While Tears did d[own l]ike Fountains flow
Saying in return [?]y [I]ll give you, you shall be p[re]sent [w]herever [?] [g]o
When on the Ocean I am a sailing The Thoughts of you the Compass will steer,
Till tedious Absence the Time will devour And bring me safe to the Arms of my Dear.
Therefore be constant my dearest Jewel, For, by the Heavens, if thou art untrue,
My Ghost shall haunt you for ever: Dead or Alive I must have none but you.
Her Arms then round his Neck she twined, Saying, when thou art on the Sea,
If the Fates unto us should prove cruel, That we each other no more should see,
No one alive shall ever enjoy me. When the Tydings of thy Death I hear,
Then like a sad distracted Lover, Down to the Grave I will go with my Dear.
Then with a dismal Sigh he departed, The Wind it blew a pleasant Gale;
All being ready, the famd Mary Galley For the Island of Barbados did sail.
Many Lords of high Birth and Breeding Came a Courting to this bright Maid:
But their Presents and Favours she slighted, Constant Ill be to my Jemmy, she said.
Now for a Time lets leave this Maiden, And shew how Things with her Lover did go.
In fair Barbados the Ship was laden: But now observe his sad Overthrow.
Jemmy was handsome in each Feature, A Barbados Lady, whose Fortune was great,
Fixd her Eyes on him, saying, If I have not This handsome Sailor, I die for his sake.
She dressed herself in rich Attire, With rich Jewels she plaited her Hair;
An Hundred Slaves for to attend her. She sent for the young Sailor there.
Come noble Sailor, now can you love me? A Lady whose Honour and Riches are great,
An hundred Slaves there are to attend thee, with Musick to lull thee to thy silent Sleep.
In Robes of Gold then I will deck thee, Pearls and rich Jewels Ill lay at thy Feet;
In a Charriot of Gold you shall ride with Pleasure if you can love me answer me strait.
Amazd with Wonder, awhile he gazed, forbear, sweet Lady, then he cryd;
For in old England Ive vowd to a Lady at my Return to make her my Bride.
She is a charming beautiful Creature and has my Heart, I can have no more;
I bear in Mind her beauteous Features, no other Creature but her I adore.
Hearing this, she ravd in Distraction, crying, unfortunate Maid thus to love
One that doth slight me and my Glory, and of my Person does not approve.
Lords of Renown I have slighted now must I die for a Sailor bold.
I must not blame him for being so constant, true Love is better than Silver and Gold.
A curious Jewel then she gave him, within her Hand she held a Knife;
One fatal Stroke ere they could stop her, did put an End to her tender Life.
Great Lamentation was made for the Lady, Jemmy on board the Ship did steer,
And then to England he was a sailing with great Desire to meet his Dear.
But her Father found he was coming, a Letter he writ to the Boatswain his Friend;
Saying a handsome Reward I will give you if you the Life of young Jemmy will end.
Quite void of Grace, and for sake of Money, the Boatswain did the same compleat;
As they on the Deck were a walking, he tumbled him into the Deep.
All in the Night when he was sleeping,
his Ghost unto his Love did appear;
Crying, arise, sweet beautiful Susan. perform the Vow you made to your Dear.
You are my own, so tarry no longer, Seven long Years for thee I did stay:
Jove does wait to crown us with Pleasure, the Bride Guests are ready, so come away,
Cries she, whos there under my Window? surely it is the Voice of my Dear;
Lifting her Head from the downy Pillow, strait to the Casement she did repair.
O Jemmy, she said, if my Father hears it, we shall be ruind both I fear;
At the Sea-side there I will meet you, and with my Maids I will meet you there.
Her Gown was embroiderd with Gold,
carelesly round her Body she threw;
And with both her Maids to attend her to meet het Love she did instantly go.
Close in his Arms then he enfolds her, Jemmy, says she, you are colder than Clay,
You are not the Man whom I admire, paler than Death you appear to me.
Yes, fair Creature, I am your Lover, dead or alive you know you are mine;
I came for your Vow, and you must follow, my Body unto the silent Grave.
I for your Sake refusd Gold and Silver, Riches and Jewels I did despise;
A charming Lady did for me expire, thinking of thee I was deaf to her Cries.
Your cruel Parents have been my Undoing. ansl now I sleep in a watry Tomb;
Now for your Promise Dear I am suing, dead or alive you are my own.
The trembling Lady was much affrighted, amazd she stood at the brink of the Sea,
And with Eyes up-lifted said cruel Parents, you have been the Cause of my Misery.
Certain it is I promisd thee sweet Jewel, dead or alive for to be thy own;
Now to perform my Vows I am ready, to follow thee to the watery Tomb.
The Maidens heard her Lamentation, but the Apparition could not see;
Thinking their Lady was in Distraction, strove to persuade her contented to be.
But she cried dearest Im coming, and in thy Arms I soon shall be,
When she had spoke the unfortunate Lady plunged herself quite into the Sea.
But when her Father heard of the same, he said, O! what have I done?
My dearest Child, it was a cruel Father that provided thee a watery Tomb.
Two or three Days being expired, these two unfortunate Lovers were seen
In each others Arms in the Waves floating, by the Ships Side in the watery Main.
The cruel Boatswain struck with Horror, then did confess the Fact he had done,
Shewing the Letter he had from her Father, which was the Cause of these Lovers Doom.
On board of Ship he was tryd for Murder, at the Yard-Arm he was hangd for the same
Her Father broke his Heart for his Daughter. before the Ship to the Harbour came.
Thus cursed, Gold caused Distraction. why should the Rich thus covet Gain.
I hope this Story will be a Warning, that cruel Parents may not do the same.

Method of Punishment





Execution Location

Yard-Arm (Yarmouth?)

Printing Location

Printed and Sold at the Printing-Office in Bow-Church-Yard, London.




“The YARMOUTH Tragedy; OR, The CONSTANT LOVERS.,” Execution Ballads, accessed February 24, 2024,

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