> Ewan MacColl > Songs > Alan Tyne o' Harrow
> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Tyne of Harrow

(Alan) Tyne of Harrow / Valentine O'Hara / The Jolly Highwayman

[ Roud 1553 ; Bodleian Roud 1553 ; trad.]

The Constant Lovers

Ewan MacColl sang the 18th century highwaymen broadside ballad Alan Tyne o' Harrow in 1972 on his Argo album Solo Flight. The uncredited sleeve notes commented:

When James Mabbe, in 1622, translated Matheo Aleman's Spanish Picaresque novel The Rogue into English, he started a literary fashion which was to remain in vogue for more than two centuries. Originally indigenous to Spain and to its social and economic system, the picaresque novel is the autobiography of a rogue and, incidentally, a satire on the life of the day. The English translation of The Life of Guzman Alfarache, to give The Rogue its proper title, reached four editions by 1656. Ten years later, Richard Head published the life of Meriton Latoon—The English Rogue, and in 1781 the anonymous Life of Duncan McDonald, the Scots Rogue, made its appearance. But it is in the novels of Defoe, Smollett and Fielding that the influence of the picaresque novel is the most strongly marked and, of course, in many “good-night songs”, of which Alan Tyne o' Harrow is a perfect example.

John Faulkner sang Alan Tyne of Harrow on Dolores Keane's and his 1979 album Broken Hearted I'll Wander.

Steve Turner sang this ballad with the Irish title Valentine O'Hara on his 1979 album, Out Stack. He noted:

I am indebted to my great benefactor Tony Holloran of Athlone for this song. There seems to be some discrepancy over the title. In different parts of the British Isles it is known as Alan Tyne of Yarrow or Harrow, and in Joyce's Old Irish Folk Music and Songs there are two different tunes given, with the titles Valentine O'Hara and The Bold Val O'Hara although no words are available. The story belongs to the “Bold Robber” group of songs.

Peter Bellamy sang Tyne of Harrow live at the Cockermouth Folk Club in January 1991. He published this concert on his cassette Songs an' Rummy Conjurin' Tricks. The track was also included in 1999 on his anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes. This album's booklet commented:

“We are here listening not only to a little slice of history but a very personal slice of history.”
— Peter Bellamy

Another nod from Peter in the direction of one of his inspirations, this was learned from the singing of Ewan MacColl. Following Ewan's death in 1989, Peter sometimes dedicated this to his memory; in the same spirit he would later perform one of Royston Wood's Young Tradition songs, including Brisk Young Widow and Derry Down Fair.

Dave Webber sang Tyne of Harrow in 1998 on his and Anni Fentiman's CD Constant Lovers. They noted:

Dave learned this track from Peter Bellamy though we also believe it was sung by Ewan MacColl. It comes from a collection called the “Goodnight Ballads”, so called because they are each written by someone who is about to die. In this case the writer is looking back over his life before he is hung for highway robbery.

Kerr Fagan Harbron recorded Alan Tyne of Harrow for their 2008 Fellside album Station House. This video shows Nancy Kerr and James Fagan live at Bath Folk Festival on 17 August 2013:

Jon Boden sang Tyne of Harrow as the 1 July 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

False Lights sang Tyne of Harrow in 2015 on their CD Salvor.

Thom Ashworth sang Tyne of Harrow on his 2017 debut EP Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. In this video he performed it at What's Cookin, upstairs at Leytonstone Ex-Servicemen's Club on 16 November 2016:

Daoirí Farrell sang Valentine O'Hara on his 2019 CD A Lifetime of Happiness. He noted:

This song is a broadside and is believed to have been written in the mid-19th century. It tells the story of a man, Valentine O’Hara, who, after getting a lady pregnant outside of wedlock, runs away to England where he joins Britannia’s army, and that is only the start of Valentine’s escapades. This is a real favourite of mine and I have wanted to learn and arrange it for many years, ever since I heard a recording of Frank Harte singing it.

Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne sang The Jolly Highwayman on his 2021 album Rakes & Misfits. He noted:

This song comes from the book Southern Harvest: The Constant Lovers & The Foggy Dew: English Folk Songs from the Hammond and Gardiner Manuscripts by Frank Purslow, edited by Steve Gardham. The song as printed in Southern Harvest combines a melody from Henry Stansbridge of Lyndhurst, Hampshire, with a text from Stanbridge’s father-in-law, George Blake of Southampton. I have added an additional two verses from a broadside printed by J. Pitts of London under the title Daring Highwayman.

Lyrics

Ewan MacColl sings Tyne o' Harrow

I am a daring highwayman; my name is Tyne o' Harrow.
I come of poor but honest folks nigh tae the hills o' Yarrow.
For getting o' a maid with child, for England I sailed over.
I left my parents and became a wild and daring rover.

Straight to London I did go where I became a soldier,
Resolved to fight Britannia's foes; no sergeant-at-arms was bolder.
They sent me tae a foreign land whaur cannons loud did rattle.
Believe me, lads, I do not boast how I behaved in battle.

Many's the battle I've been in, in Holland and French Flanders;
I always fought with courage keen, led on by brave commanders.
But a cruel ensign called me out and I was flogged and carted;
Cruel the usage they gave me, and so I soon deserted.

Straight for England I set sail as fast as wind could heave me,
Resolved that of my liberty there should no man deprive me.
I slipped intae the fields by night, by all my friends forsaken,
I could not walk the road by day for fear I should be taken.

Being of a courage keen and likewise able bodied,
I robbed Lord Lowndes on the King's highway with my pistols heavy loaded.
I clapped my pistol tae his breast which set him all a-quiver,
Five hundred pounds in ready gold to me he did deliver.

With part of my new store of gold I bought a famous gelding
That could jump over a five-barred gate; I bought him from Ned Fielding.
Lord Arkinstone intae his coach I robbed near Covent Garden,
And two hours later that same night I robbed the Earl of Warren.

One night at Turnham Green I robbed a revenue collector,
And what I took from him I gave to a widow to protect her.
I always robbed the rich and great, to rob the poor I scorn-ed,
But now in iron chains I'm bound, in doom I now lie born-ed.

For straight in Newgate I'm confined and by the law convicted.
To hang on Tyburn tree's my fate, of which I'm much affrighted.
Fareweel, my friends and countrymen and my native hills of Yarrow.
Kind providence may test the soul of Alan Tyne o Harrow.

Peter Bellamy sings Tyne of Harrow

I am a gallant highwayman; my name is Tyne of Harrow.
I come of poor but honest folk nigh to the hills of Yarrow.
'Twas for getting of a maid with child, to England I came over.
I left my parents and became a wild and daring rover.

And straight to London I did go where I became a soldier,
Resolved to fight Britannia's foes; no champion could be bolder.
They sailed me to a foreign land where the cannon loud did rattle.
And believe me, lads, I do not boast how I behaved in battle.

For many's the battle I was in, in Holland and French Flanders;
I always fought with a courage keen, led on by brave commanders.
But a cruel ensign called me out and I was flogged and carted;
Cruel the usage they gave me, and so I soon deserted.

And straight for England I set sail as fast as wind could heave me,
Resolved that of my liberty no man should e'er relieve me.
I slept by night in auburn fields, by all old friends forsaken,
And I dared not walk the roads by day for fear I should be taken.

But being of a courage keen and likewise able bodied,
Well, I robbed Lord Lowndes on the King's highway with my pistols heavy loaded.
I clapped my pistols to his breast which caused him for to quiver,
And five hundred pound in ready gold to me he did deliver.

With part of my new store of gold I bought a famous gelding
That could jump o'er a five-bar gate; I bought it from Ned Fielding.
Lord Arkinstone in his fine coach I robbed at Covent Garden,
And two hours later the same night I robbed the Earl of Warren.

And one night by Turnham Green I robbed a revenue collector,
And what I took form him I gave to a widow to protect her.
For I always robbed the rich and great, for to rob the poor I scorn-ed,
But now they leave me to my fate, in iron chains adorn-ed.

Yes, it's straight in Newgate I am bound and by the laws convicted.
For to hang on Tyburn tree's my fate, of which I'm much affrighted.
Farewell, my friends and countrymen and my native hills of Yarrow.
Kind providence will test the soul of Alan Tyne of Harrow.

Daoirí Farrell sings Valentine O'Hara

I am a gallant highwayman called Valentine O ’Hara,
And I come from poor but decent folk nigh to the Hill of Tara.
By the getting of a maid with child to England I went over;
I left my parents and I became a wild and daring rover.

Well it’s straight to England I did go where I became a soldier,
Resolved to fight Britannia’s foe, not Hector Great was bolder.
I fought all in some foreign shores where cannons loud did rattle,
Believe me boys I do not boast how I behaved in battle.

Well it’s many's the battle I fought in, in Holland and French Flanders;
But I always fought with a courage keen led on by great commanders.
Until a cruel ensign found me out and I was flogged and carted,
Oh, cruel usage they gave me and so I soon departed.

Well it’s straight back to England I did go as fast as winds would drive me,
Resolved that of my liberty no man could e’er deny me.
But I slept out in the fields at night by all my friends forsaken,
I dare not walk the road by day for fear I might be taken.

But I being of a courage keen and likewise able bodied,
I robbed Lord Nounce on the King's highway with pistols heavy loaded.
I placed my pistols to his breast which caused his heart to quiver,
Five hundred pounds in ready gold to me he did deliver.

Well with part of my new store of gold I bought a famous gelding
That could jump over a five bar gate and I bought him from Ned Fielding.
Lord Arkenstone all in his coach I robbed near Covent Garden
And two hours later that same night I robbed the Earl of Warren.

In Turnham Green I next did rob the revenue collector
And what I took from him I gave to a widow to protect her.
I always robbed the rich and great for to rob the poor I scorned,
And now in iron chains I’m bound and doomed I now lie burning.

And it’s straight to Newgate I do go all by the law convicted,
To hang all on the Tyburn tree of which I’m much affrighted.
Farewell my friends and neighbours, all likewise my native Tara,
Kind providence may test the soul of Valentine O'Hara.