“William Taylor”


Willie is (about to be married when he is) impressed. His love dresses like a man and seeks him. She is revealed as a woman. The captain tells her that William is about to marry another. She shoots him. The captain gives her a command or marries her


Belden's version of this song ends with the girl drowning herself in grief. Laws mentions this only in connection with the Belden text, but it appears that Randolph's version also ends this way (it says only that the girl drowned, but Randolph marks a missing verse).I initially though this an Ozark attempt to moralize the song. But it occurs also in Brown. Cox has a similar, slightly less heavy-handed attempt; the girl is arrested but her fate not listed. Perhaps it's a general American urge to punish the "crime." - RBW

She likewise drowns herself in all three of Sharp's texts. - PJS

The "Bold William Taylor" broadsides end in marriage; "William Taylor" and "The Female Lieutenant" end in command. - BS

C. H. Firth treats his "Billy Taylor" as "A Burlesque Ballad" of his other text (in which the sailor is called "William Taylor"); he describes it as Sung by Mr. Emery, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. Still, they are clearly the same song, and both end with the girl as "lieutenant of the _Thunder Bomb_". The mention of bomb ships (mortar vessels) strongly dates those versions, at least, to the eighteenth or early nineteenth century. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "Une Belle Recompense (A Beautiful Reward)" (plot)


  • Bodleian, Firth c.12(233), "Bold William Taylor ," H. Such (London), 1863-1885; also Firth c.12(231), Firth c.12(234), Harding B 11(391), Harding B 11(3010)[some words illegible], "Bold William Taylor"; Harding B 25(2069), "William Taylor"; Firth c.12(232)[some words illegible], "The Female Lieutenant" or "Faithless Lover Rewarded"
  • LOCSinging, as113210, "William Taylor," Leonard Deming (Boston), 19C


  • Joseph Taylor, "Bold William Taylor" (on Voice06)


  1. Laws N11, "William Taylor" (Laws gives a broadside texts on pp. 93-94 of ABFBB)
  2. Belden, pp. 182-183, "William Taylor" (1 text)
  3. Randolph 67, "Willie Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. BrownII 106, "William Taylor" (1 text)
  5. SharpAp 61, "William Taylor" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  6. Sharp-100E 71, "William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. SHenry H213, p. 334, "Willie Taylor (a)"; H757, pp. 334-335, "Willie Taylor (b)" (2 texts, 2 tunes, both composite)
  8. JHCox 120, "William Taylor" (1 text)
  9. Flanders/Brown, pp. 152-154, "William Taylor" (1 text)
  10. Ord, pp. 315-316, "Billy Taylor" (1 text)
  11. Greenleaf/Mansfield 22, "Willie Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Leach-Labrador 131, "Willy Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Karpeles-Newfoundland 49, "William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  14. Creighton-NovaScotia 32, "Billy Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Mackenzie 46, "Willie Taylor" (2 texts)
  16. Manny/Wilson 61, "Brisk Young Seaman (Willie Taylor)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  17. Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 94-95, "William Taylor" (1 text, with the ending lost, 1 tune)
  18. DT 443, BLLYTYLR*
  19. ADDITIONAL: C. H. Firth, _Publications of the Navy Records Society_ , 1907, p. 326, "The Female Lieutenant; or, Faithless Lover Rewarded"; p. 327, "Billy Taylor" (2 texts)
  20. Roud #158
  21. BI, LN11


Alternate titles: “Bold William Taylor”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1817 (Journal from the Herald)
Found in: US(Ap,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England,Scotland) Ireland