“The Escape of James Stephens”


Stephens escapes from Richmond. Foolish statements are attributed to the Queen, the Marquis, and Lord Wodehouse. The attempt to recapture him is ridiculed: "But one thing you'll not do, That is get from 'Parley-voo', The bird that thither flew"


The Fenians were an organization devoted to freeing Ireland. The organization was founded in 1858 by James Stephens, and quickly spread; the British government felt the need to suppress the group in 1865. Stephens and others were taken prisoner; although he escaped, it turned him cautious; he no longer had the nerve to take aggressive action. That pretty well killed the group as an active set of rebels; their attempt at an Irish rebellion failed in 1867.

For more on Stephens, see the notes to "James Stephens, the Gallant Fenian Boy." - RBW

Broadside Harding B 18(151): H. De Marsan dating per _Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song_ by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS

Historical references

  • Sep 15, 1865 - _The Irish People_ newspaper raided and leaders arrested; Stephens in hiding
  • Nov 11, 1865 - Stephens arrested; scheduled for trial Nov 27, 1865.
  • Nov 24, 1865 - Escapes Richmond prison (source: Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco) site)

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 18(151), "The Escape of Stephens, the Fenian Chief," H. De Marsan (New York), 1864-1878


  1. OLochlainn-More 3A, "The Escape of James Stephens" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, OLcM003A


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1879 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 18(151)); OLochlainn-More 3 refers to a newspaper story in 1868 in _The Irishman_
Found in: Ireland