“Johnny Todd”


Johnny Todd ships out, leaving his sweetheart in Liverpool. She meets another sailor, who offers to marry her. She accepts; Todd returns to find his love married. The moral: "Do not leave your love like Johnny/Marry her before you go"


I include the cross-reference because the verses in which the rival sailor courts the lady seem to be lifted from a broken-token song such as "John Riley (I)". - PJS

Interestingly, the Montgomerie text also has this bit, so it appears to be genuinely traditional.

The group Ossian has recorded a version of this in which Johnny Todd returns to his girl. They admit, however, to having rewritten the ending. To my mind, it doesn't add much.... - RBW

Cross references


  • Bob Roberts, "Johnny Todd" (on LastDays)


  1. Hammond-Belfast, p. 9, "Johnny Todd" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Silber-FSWB, p. 174, "Johnny Todd" (1 text)
  3. Montgomerie-ScottishNR 106, "(Johnnie Johnson's ta'en a notion)" (1 text)
  5. Roud #1102
  6. BI, FSWB174A


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1950s (recording, Bob Roberts)
Found in: US(NE) Ireland