“Little Nell of Narragansett Bay”


"Full well do I remember My boyhood's happy hours... The bright and sparkling water O'er which we used to sail." The singer and Nell were never afraid at sea. But one day her body is found by the shore. Ten years later, he still weeps for the girl

Supplemental text

Little Nell of Narragansett Bay
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Paul G. Brewster, Ballads and Songs of Indiana, p. 345.
Collected in 1935 from Helen T. Little of Knoxville, Iowa.
A defective version.

I loved a little beauty, but she's not with me now;
The lilies of the valley are growing o'er her brow;
And now I'm sad and lonely and weeping all the day
For bright-eyed, laughing little Nell of Narragansett Bay.


Tolled, tolled the bell at early dawn of day
For lovely Nell, so quickly passed away;
Tolled, tolled the bell so sad and mournfully
For bright-eyed, laughing little Nell of Narragansett Bay.

(2 additional stanzas)


There is another "Little Nell" ballad in the National Library of Scotland collection; this too revolves around a dead girl. It is suggested tht the name was inspired by the Little Nell of Dickens's _The Old Curiosity Shop_. The same suggestion might apply here. Or might not, of course. - RBW


  1. Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 30-31, "Bright-Eyed Little Nell of Narragansett Bay" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Dean, p. 119, "Little Nell of Narragansette Bay" (1 text)
  3. Brewster 88, "Little Nell of Narragansett Bay" (1 text)
  4. cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 480, "Little Nell of Narragansett Bay" (source notes only)
  5. ST Brew88 (Partial)
  6. Roud #3274
  7. BI, Brew88


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (Spaeth)
Found in: US(MW)