I love second hand bookshops. Last year I was ferreting around in one in Brockley & found this tome. I perused it over a coffee & was delighted to find some material I could work with.
Newgate’s Garland is a Murder Ballad about an 18th century villain called Jonathan Wild. Jonathan Wild was the Thief-Taker General of London & would retrieve stolen goods for the nobility & capture thieves for bounty. He was respected by the upper classes for doing a good job. He was, however, an underworld boss. He ran the gangs of robbers so was often able to retrieve goods because he had stolen it!
Rumour had it that he kept a ledger of the robbers in his employ & would mark a cross by the side of those he did not favour. If he marked a second cross against a name that robber would be turned into the authories. This is supposedly how the term ‘double-cross’ came about.
This song is about how the shine came off Jonathan’s reputation. The book said it should be sung to the tune of The Cut Purse but I made up a tune on the drive home in the car which I made an arrangement to.
There are many twists & turns to Jonathan Wild & I would recommend this excellent book if you want to find out more. The wikipedia on him is a pretty good digest.
Many moons ago I wrote this song about Jonathan Wild too