“Lovely Willie”


A girl with many rich suitors is in love with Willie. The speaks of running away with him. Her father overhears and stabs Willie to death. At Willie's burial the girl openly rejects her father, vowing to spend the rest of her life in exile or die for love


The last verse of Peacock starts "Oh green grow the laurels and the tops of them small But love is a phantom will conquer us all," which is the form that resembles the beginning of the last verse of "Nancy from London"; that ends the similarity. - BS

This fragment also ends the Manny/Wilson version (and gives it its title); evidently that was a Canadian adaption.

There is at least one documented instance of this happening in Ireland: In 1798, just before the Rebellion, Lord Kingston was on trial for the murder of his daughter's seducer. - RBW

Cross references


  • Paddy Tunney, "Lovely Willie" (on IRPTunney02)


  1. Laws M35, "Lovely Willie"
  2. Randolph 113, "Lovely William" (1 short text, 1 tune)
  3. Gardner/Chickering 30, "Lovely Willie's Sweetheart" (1 text)
  4. SHenry H587, p. 433, "Sweet William" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Tunney-StoneFiddle, p. 138, "Lovely Willie" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. OLochlainn 55, "Lovely Willie" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Peacock, pp. 456-457, "Green Grow the Laurels" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Karpeles-Newfoundland 66, "The Father in Ambush" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Leach-Labrador 19, "Lovely Jimmy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Creighton-Maritime, p. 107, "Lovely Jimmy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Manny/Wilson 71, "Green Grow the Rushes" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Roud #1913
  14. BI, LM35


Alternate titles: “Lovely Jamie”; “Willy”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1935 (Sam Henry collection)
Found in: US(MA,MW,NE,So) Ireland Canada(Mar,Newf)