“The Yellow Handkerchief (Flash Company)”


Singer once loved a young girl who wore a yellow handkerchief. Unfortunately, he kept "flash company", and he is now ruined and destitute; "Like a flower in the garden all my color has gone."


MacColl and Seeger, for some inexplicable reason, identify their fragement-of-a-fragment with Laws O 37 ("Mary on the Silvery Tide"). Their version is clearly not a unity, but since it has the chorus and form of this song (and the other bits and pieces are too small to identify), here it files.

Including their text "The False-Hearted Lover" is even more of a stretch, but it consists of one verse certainly from this song, one that seems unique, and four floaters; where else do you file it? - RBW

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(4190), "Flash Company" ("First I loved William, and then I loved John"), Thomas Smith (?), n.d


  • Phoebe Smith, "Yellow Handkerchief" (on Voice11)


  1. Kennedy 360, "The Yellow Handkerchief" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. MacSeegTrav 32, "The Yellow Handkerchief" (1 text, 1 tune); also 58, "The False-Hearted Lover" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Roud #954
  5. BI, K360


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1906 (Gardiner coll.)
Found in: Britain(England(Lond,South))