“Jack Sheppard”


Jack Sheppard, the apprentice of carpenter William Woods, is scorned by his master's daughter. After marrying two (!) women, he seeks to rob Woods, is captured, but is freed by an accomplice. Imprisoned, he escapes again, but is at last taken and hanged


There are a number of Jack Sheppard broadsides, including song collections, in the Bodleian catalog, but I don't find this song; see, for example, the eight songs headed "Jack Sheppard's Songs" [Bodleian, Harding B 11(1841),..., unknown, n.d.]. There is no question, though, that Mackenzie 127 is Laws L6: it is Laws's only reference. - BS

Nor does it seem to have turned up in tradition anywhere else; one wonders why Laws listed it as a current traditional song rather than relegating it to the list of doubtful songs.

Sheppard was a real person; according to Benet's _Reader's Encyclopedia_ he was born c. 1701 to a carpenter in Smithfield. He turned highwayman at a young age.

By 1724 he was captured; he twice escaped from Newgate, but was caught again and executed in that year. Daniel Defoe wrote a romance about him (titled, naturally, _Jack Sheppard_) in the year of his execution, and W. H. Ainsworth also wrote about him in 1839. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1724 - execution of Jack Sheppard


  1. Laws L6, "Jack Sheppard"
  2. Mackenzie 127, "Jack Sheppard" (1 text)
  3. DT 568, JCKSHEPP
  4. Roud #1903
  5. BI, LL06


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1928 (Mackenzie)
Found in: Canada(Mar)