> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Tyne of Harrow

(Alan) Tyne of Harrow / Valentine O'Hara

[ Roud 2403 ; Bodleian Roud 2403 ; trad.]

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.

Steve Turner sang this ballad as Valentine O'Hara on his 1979 album, Out Stack. He commented in the liner notes:

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 this song as Tyne of Harrow live at the Cockermouth Folk Club in January 1991. He published this concert on his cassette Songs an' Rummy Conjurin' Tricks. This track was also included in 1999 on his 3CD anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes. The latter album's notes comment:

“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.

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 them live at Shrewsbury Folk Festival in August 2010:

And this video shows Nancy Kerr and James Fagan live at Bath Folk Festival on August 17, 2013:

Jon Boden sang Tyne of Harrow as the July 1, 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.

Lyrics

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.

Links

More information can be found at the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: Allan Tyne of Harrow / Valentine O'Hara.