"Many thousands I've spent on Rachel and Ruth... Bridget and Pegs." A rich uncle gets the singer out of limbo prison; he'd "put you once more on your legs" if he'd settle down. He shows the girls his money. They try to get it from him; he turns them away.

Supplemental text

  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

The Spendthrift clapt into Limbo

As printed by W. H. Logan, The Pedlar's Pack of Ballads and Songs,
pp. 304-306. "From a chap copy of 'Five Excellent new Songs. 1. The
Valiant M'Craws...." Logan dates the print c. 1782.

I once was great, full little I've grown,
  A mimic of multum in parvo;
I'm buried alive in a cluster of stone,
  Some say it is what I deserve, O!
In what they have said there is somewhat of truth;
I have been a wild and extravagant youth;
Some hundreds have spent upon Rachel and Ruth,
  For which I am clapt up in limbo.

(10 additional stanzas)


Steve Gardham has this answer to my question as to whether there is/was a "Limbo Prison" (quoted with permission):

"No there was never a Limbo prison. The term applied to prisons evolved from the religious use of the word i.e. the medieval term for purgatory from Limbus Patrum. The leap isn't far from purgatory to prison if you think about it.

According to Partridge [_The Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang_] the use of the word for a place of confinement dates from c1590. Partridge also gives other uses of the word:

a pawnshop c1690 to 1820,

female pudend 19thC,

bread- military late 19th century.

Roxburgh Ballads. Vol 8 p. 811 and Logan's _Pedlar's Pack_ p. 304 have plenty to say on Limbo songs." - BS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(3214), "The Rakes Complaint in Limbo," J. Pitts (London), 1819-1844


  1. Creighton-Maritime, pp. 124-125, "Once I Was Young" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Logan, pp. 304-307, "The Spendthrift clapt into Limbo" (1 text)
  3. ST CrMa124 (Partial)
  4. Roud #969
  5. BI, CrMa124


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1845 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(3214))
Keywords: prison rake family money
Found in: Canada(Mar)