A PEPYSIAN GARLAND - online book

Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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The son and mother were, as the ballad says, thoroughly depraved. John Chamberlain wrote to Carleton on January 23, 1619 {Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 1619-23, p. 8), that "Lady Sandys, whose husband was hanged for robbery, has herself turned thief." Similar charges were soon made against George. On September 22, 1619 (Jeaffreson, op. cit. 11, 149), he was indicted on the charge of stealing "a gray gelding worth five pounds of the goods and chattels of Sir PeterTemple knt.", but pleaded "not guilty" and was acquitted. The following passage gives an account of the crime which in stanza 8 Sandys is said to have committed: *
25 July, 2 Charles I.—True Bill that, at the parish of St. Pancras co. Midd. on the said day, George Sandes late of St. Giles's-in-the-Fields co. Midd. gentleman assaulted Jane Wrighte,... and murdered her by putting one leather brayded rayne round her neck, and forthwith strangling and suffocating her with the said rayne, so that she then and there died instandy; and that afterwards on the same day, knowing him to have committed the said murder, Suzan Lady Sandes, James Jones yoman and Edward Gent gentleman [or rather yeoman], all three late of St. Giles's-in-the-Field, received, harboured and comforted the said George Sandes at the same last-named parish.
Jeaffreson {pp. cit. in, 11) remarks that over the names of the accused "appear the words 'po se' = he (or she) put himself (or herself) 'Not Guilty' on a jury of the country. No other minute [appears] on the face of the indictment." From the comments made by the ballad-writer it seems that Sandys with his companions was acquitted of this charge though afterwards he made an inadvertent confession of its truth to another woman whom he assaulted—to the Honor Rudston of the follow­ing indictment:
28 August, 2 Charles I.—True Bill that, at St. Giles's-in-the-Fields co. Midd. on the said day, George Sandes gentleman, James Jones yoman, and Edward Gent yoman, all late of the said parish, assaulted Honor Rudston,... and that the said George Sandes gentleman then and there 'rapuit et carnaliter cognovit' the said Honor Rudston, against her will and without her consent.
On this indictment all three men were found guilty and were sentenced to be hanged (Jeaffreson, op. cit. in, 11). After their execution the ballad was written.
From these records it appears that the author of the ballad, though rightly hostile to Sandys, has too much sympathy for James Jones and Edward Gent and that they were not the passive tools and dupes he describes. The valedictory poem—said to be of Jones's own composition —with which the ballad ends, hardly suggests that English poetry suffered a loss by the untimely end of Jones. In any case his claim to the authorship of this poem is very doubtful indeed. "Neck verses" like these were the stock in trade of the professional balladists, who with no compunction thrust them on any criminal that was available.
The tune is given in Chappell's Popular Music, 1, 198.
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