Some Luck Some Wit


Some Luck Some Wit


Being a Sonnet upon the merry life and untimely death of Mistriss Mary Carlton, commonly called THE German Princess. To a new Tune, called the German Princess adieu.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

British Library - Roxburgh C.20.f.9.35; EBBA 30388

Set to tune of...

The German Princess adieu


Farewel German Princess the Fates bid adieu whose fall is as strange as her story is true,
Her peddigree she from a Fidler does bring

and Fidlers do commonly end in a string,
How many mad pranks has she plaid on the Earth

which equally moves us to pitty and mirth,
But now for a Gamball at Christmas the fool

must shew us a trick on a three-legged Stool.
The first of her tricks was a Freak into France

to learn the French language to sing and to dance,
And who but a Taylor should lye in the lurch

to cut out her work and to lead her to Church,
He plyd her to with Gold but when all was prepard

to measure the Princess about with his yard,
She bobd off the Taylor and made him a Goose

but for all her mad pranks she must dye in a Noose.
Next after to Holland she steered her course

and there she abused a Jewelor worse,
For when he so many rich jewels had brought

seald up in a box, she another had wrought,
And thus he was chevld by the wit of the Girl

with pebbles for diamonds and Glasses for pearl,
Who after his gelding most sadly bemoans,

he quite was undone for the loss of his stones
The next that she shewd was on English-Mans jest

and though there was wit int twas none of the best
Then who but the Princess, and happy were they,

that could but obtain this so welcome a pray:
As eagerly she at the Collies did catch,

but when she was married she met with her match;
For at last an Atturney did fall in her way

who gave her his Bond and had nothing to pay.
A Brick-maker then as a Suitor did go

whose news was as strange as the news from Soho
For when he came up to his Tenement door

he found there was one in possession before,
To furnish this Room he sold all that he had

and now not to enter it made him stark mad,
But she had the money and kept him in awe

by bidding him make up his Brick without straw.
And now the young gallant that next was trappand

was a kind of a Drugster as I understand,
He thought her so rich that the prodigal fop

to gain her sold all that he had in the Shop,
But when to this prize he began to draw near

he found he had bought his Commoditie dear,
His fore-head did bud and such pains he indurd

as would not by Balsoms or Plaisters be curd
A Limner at length who had heard of her fame

would needs draw her Picture and give it a frame,
With couler and varnish she cheated the Elf

and provd that she painted as well as himself,
He made her a Face and a Robe like a Queen

and swore twas as like her as ever was seen,
But when at the Tavern she left him in paw[n]

he swore for a Princess a Beggar hed drawn
A thousand such pranks she did daily invent

and yet with her money was nevey content,
But spent it apace for the proverb you know

says wealth that comes lightly as lightly does go.
At Masques and at Revels by day and by night

with Toryes and gallants she took her delight,
She fancyd alass, it would nere be day

and so never thought of a reckoning to pay.
But what was long lookd for is now come at last

and the sentence of death on the Princess is past
Nor could she be tryd by her peers for no doubt

there was not her peer the whole nation throughout
But if any more of the gang should be found

they are born to be hangd they shall never be dround
When people must cheat to encourage their pride

it is a Dutch trick which we cannot abide.

Method of Punishment



returning from penal transportation without permission


Printing Location

London Printed for Philip Brooksby near the Hospital-gate in West-smith-field.


Wikipedia: Mary Carleton (11 January 1642 - 22 January 1673) was an Englishwoman who used false identities, such as a German princess, to marry and defraud a number of men.

Carleton was born Mary Moders in Canterbury. According to later accounts she married a journeyman shoemaker named Thomas Stedman and gave birth to two children who died in infancy. She later left her husband to move to Dover where she married a surgeon, prompting her arrest and trial in Maidstone for bigamy.

After the trial she visited Cologne where she had a brief affair with a local nobleman. He gave her valuable presents, pressed her for marriage and began the preparations for a wedding. She, however, slipped out of Germany with all the presents and most of her landlady's money, returning to England through the Netherlands.

She returned to London in 1663 and took on the persona of an orphaned Princess van Wolway from Cologne. She claimed that she was born in Cologne and that her father was Henry van Wolway, Lord of Holmstein and that she had fled a possessive lover. She used this guise to marry John Carleton, brother-in-law of the landlord of the Exchange tavern which she frequented. After the wedding, however, an anonymous letter exposed her.

Her trial in 1663 was the first recorded appearance of Mary Carleton. She was charged for masquerading as a German princess and marrying John Carleton in London under that name. She claimed that John Carleton himself had claimed to be a lord and was trying to extract himself from marriage as he had discovered there was no money in it. Divorce would have been an unheard of scandal in those times. Both sides of the conflict published pamphlets to support their own story. Mary Carleton was eventually acquitted.

Afterwards Mary Carleton wrote her own account, The Case of Madam Mary Carleton, possibly through a ghostwriter. She also acted in a play about her life and gained a number of admirers who gave her more valuable gifts. She eventually married one of her admirers. Predictably she left him too, taking with her his money, valuables and keys while he was drunk.

Carleton next pretended to be a rich virgin heiress fleeing an undesirable suitor whom her father had arranged for her. She even arranged that someone would send her letters that supposedly contained updates of family news. When her new landlady found and read them, she was convinced and became a matchmaker between Carleton and her nephew.

Carleton arranged a new letter that claimed that her brother was dead and he had left her all he had, including her father's forthcoming inheritance. However, her father was even more determined to marry her to a suitor she detested. Her lover invited her to live with him but Carleton and an accomplice, disguised as a maid, stole his money.

Over the following ten years Carleton used similar methods to defraud various other men and landlords, often with the aid of her maid. Some of the men were too embarrassed to reveal they had been duped. She was many times accused of theft but was jailed only briefly.

She was once arrested after stealing a silver tankard, and was sentenced to penal transportation and sent to Jamaica. However, after two years she returned to London, again pretending to be a rich heiress and married an apothecary at Westminster. Naturally, she stole his money and left him.

In December 1672 Carleton was captured when a man who was searching for stolen loot recognized her. On 16 January 1673 she was tried in the Old Bailey. Because she had returned from penal transportation without permission, she received a sentence of death. She was executed by hanging on 22 January.

In 1673 Francis Kirkman wrote, and issued under his own name, The Counterfeit Lady Unveiled, a fictional autobiography.




“Some Luck Some Wit,” Execution Ballads, accessed February 21, 2024,

Output Formats