> June Tabor > Songs > The Manchester Angel

The Manchester Angel

[ Roud 2741 ; Ballad Index VWL066 ; VWML HAM/4/22/16 ; Bodleian Roud 2741 ; trad.]

Sam Gregory of Beaminster, Dorset, sang The Manchester Angel to H.E.D. Hammond in June 1906 This version was printed in 1959 in Vaughan Williams' and Lloyd's The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, which commented:

The Angel Inn is said to have stood in the Market Place adjoining Market Sted Lane, Manchester. According to Miss Anne Gilchrist, “it seems possible that this song dates from about the '45. In November 1745 a Manchester regiment was raised in support of Charles Edward [Stuart]'s cause, but suffered disaster with the Prince after the fiasco at Derby, surrendering at Carlisle a few weeks later.” Other versions of the song have been found in Dorset and in Yorkshire.

Ewan MacColl sang The Manchester Angel as the title track of his 1966 Topic album The Manchester Angel. This track was also included in 2003 on his anthology The Definitive Collection. He commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

Manchester's local historians disagree about the original site of ‘The Angel Inn’ mentioned in this song. The Market Place adjoining Sted Lane is the location given by some while others insist that it is situated on Market Street itself. Miss Anne Gilchrist, writing in the Folksong Journal, surmises that the song dated from around 1745 when a Manchester regiment was raised to support the Jacobite cause. A broadside version of it was printed by Catnach under the title of The Soldier's Farewell to Manchester.

Karris Sheppard sang Manchester Angel live at Folk Union One in 1969, which was released in the same year on the privately issued album Blue Bell Folk Sing.

Pete Coe sang Manchester Angel on his 1985 album It's a Mean Old Scene. This track was also included in 2007 on his CD Previous.

Pete Wood sang The Manchester Angel as the title track of his 2007 CD, Manchester Angel. He noted:

When I was younger, I naively thought this must be a Lancashire song, and was somewhat put out to find that it came from Dorset! However, the pub was real, there can be no doubt that encounters like this occurred, and the most likely date is Bonny Prince Charlie's 1745 march to London down what was to be the A6. The tune in the Penguin book sounded a lot like the Irish air Skibereen to me, so I decided to use that great tune for the song. Hence the slow start.

Laura Smyth sang Manchester Angel in 2014 on her and Ted Kemp's EP The Charcoal Black and the Bonny Grey and in 2017 on their CD The Poacher's Fate. They noted on their website:

Whilst it would be easy to mistake the title as referring to the lady featured in the song, it actually takes its name from the pub, The Angel, which used to sit just off Market Street in the centre of Manchester in the 18th century. During the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, Bonny Prince Charlie made his way through England raising recruits from the major towns and cities. He reached Manchester in late November and raised a regiment 300 strong.

This song tells the story of a recruit entering Manchester and, unsurprisingly, becoming love-struck with a beautiful woman he meets there. Their romance is short lived as he is forced to continue with the regiment and leave his sweetheart behind.

The song unfortunately was never collected in Manchester, but found its way into the repertoire of singers in Devon, Dorset, and Hampshire, and was published in broadside ballads printed and sold in locations from London to Leeds. The melody to which the song was commonly sung did, however, end up surviving in the Manchester song, The Cruise of the Cailbar.

The version of the song we sing is that sung by Sam Gregory, Dorset, and collected by Henry Hammond in 1906. It was used by Ewan MacColl in his interpretation of the song, and in a minor key has a mournful sound more fitting to the subject matter (or so we think!).

Sally Cook sang Soldier's Farewell to Manchester in 2016 on Edward II's CD Manchester's Improving Daily.

June Tabor sang The Manchester Angel in 2017 on Quercus' second CD, Nightfall. She commented:

In November 1745, a Manchester regiment was raised in support of Prince Charles Edward Stuart's claim to the British throne, and marched south with him towards London. However, the Jacobite army turned back at Derby, and many surrendered at Carlisle a few weeks later. The remainder were destroyed at Culloden in April 1946.

Lyrics

Sam Gregory sings The Manchester Angel

It's coming down to Manchester to gain my liberty,
I met a pretty young doxy and she seemed full of glee.
Yes, I met a pretty young doxy, the prettiest ever I see.
At the Angel Inn in Manchester, there is the girl for me.

Then early next morning, just at the break of day,
I went to my love's bedside, my morning vows to pay.
I hugged her, I cuddled her, I bade her to lie warm;
And she said: “My jolly soldier, do you mean me any harm?”

“To mean you any harm, my love, is a thing that I would scorn.
If I stopped along with you all night, I'd marry you in the morn.
Before my lawful officer, my vows I will fulfil.”
Then she said, “My jolly soldier, you may lie as long as you will.”

Our rout came on the Thursday, on the Monday we marched away.
The drums and fifes and bugles so sweetily did play.
Some hearts they were merry, but mine was full of woe.
She says: “May I go along with you?”— “Oh no, my love, oh no.”

“If you should stand a sentry go, on a cold and bitter day,
Your colours they would go, love, and your beauty would decay
If I saw you handle a musket, love, it would fill my heart with woe
So stay at home, dear Nancy.” But still she answered, “No!”

“I'll go down to your officer, and I'll buy your discharge,
Ten guineas I'll surrender if they'll set you at large.
And if that will not do, my love, along with you I'll go,
So will you take me with you now?” And still I answered, “No.”

“I'll go down in some nunnery and there I'll end my life.
I'll never have no lover now, nor yet become a wife.
But constant and true-hearted, love, for ever I'll remain,
And I never will get married till my soldier comes again!”

Ewan MacColl sings The Manchester Angel

In coming down to Manchester to gain my liberty
I met one of the prettiest girls that ever my eyes did see.
I met one of the prettiest girls that ever my eyes did see,
At the Angel Inn in Manchester there lives the girl for me.

Early next morning, before the break of day,
I went unto my love's bedside, my morning vows to pay.
I hugged her and I cuddled her, I bade her to lie warm;
She said: “My jolly soldier, do you mean me any harm?”

“To mean you any harm, my love, is a thing that I do scorn.
If you let me lie all night with you, I'll marry you in the morn.
Before my lawful officer, my vows I will fulfil.”
She said, “My jolly soldier, you may lie as long as you will.”

On Thursday our rout came, on Monday marched away.
The drums and the bugles so sweetily they did play.
Some hearts they were merry, but mine was filled with woe.
“Will you let me go along with you?”— “Oh no, my love, oh no.”

“If I saw you stand on sentry, on a cold and a bitter day,
Your colours they would go, my love, and your beauty would decay.
Your colours they would go, my love, your beauties would decay,
So stay at home, dear Nancy.” But still she answered, “No!”

“I will go down to your officer, and fall down on my knees,
Ten guineas I will surrender to buy my love's discharge.
And if that will not do, my love, I'll go along with you.
Will you let me go along with you?”— “Oh no, my love, oh no.”

“I will go down in some nunnery and there I'll end my life.
I'll never will get married, nor yet become a wife.
I'll always be true-hearted, I'll never love again,
I never will get married till my soldier comes again!”

June Tabor sings The Manchester Angel

It's coming down to Manchester to gain my liberty,
I met a pretty young doxy and she seemed full of glee.
I met a pretty young doxy, the fairest ever I see.
At the Angel Inn in Manchester, there dwells the girl for me.

And it's early the next morning, just at the break of day,
I went to my love's chamber, my morning vows to pay.
I kissed her, I cuddled her, I bade her to lie warm;
And she says: “My jolly soldier, do you mean me any harm?”

“To mean you any harm, my love, is a thing that I would scorn.
If I lay along with you all night, I'd marry you in the morn.
Before my lawful officer, my vows I would fulfil.”
Then she says, “My jolly soldier, you may lie as long as you will.”

Our rout came on the Thursday, on the Monday we marched away.
The fifes and drums and bugles so sweetily did play.
Some hearts they were merry, but mine was full of woe.
“It's ay I go along with you?”— “Oh no, my love, oh no.”

“To see you stand on sentry go on a cold and bitter day,
Your colour it would fade, love, and your beauty would decay
To see you handle a musket it would fill my heart with woe
So stay at home, dear Nancy.” But still she answered, “No!”

“I'll go down to your officer, and I'll buy your discharge,
Ten guineas I'll surrender if he'll set you at large.
And if that will not do, my love, then along with you I'll go,
So will you take me with you now?” But still I answered, “No.”

“I'll go down in some nunnery and there I'll end my life.
I'll never take no lover now, nor yet become a wife.
But faithful and true-hearted, love, forever I'll remain,
And I never will get married till my soldier comes again!”