07. Farewell ye rocks, farewell ye plains

                                               No. 7.
          A lamentation on the fate of Jack Ran commonly called 16 string jack was also a favorite. Jack was in sum a great Buck in his way, and the first who wore strings to the knees of his breeches, he was a notorious thief, as was also Miss Roach his companion. Tradespeople and other men and women, used to go to Bagnigge Wells1 of a Sunday afternoon, to see Miss Roach and Jack Ran. The song
                                                       was popular notwithstand [sic]
                                                       Jack had been hangd
                                                       many years before
          The Song began thus
Farewell ye rocks, farewell ye plains,
No more Miss Roach will on you reign,
Your sighs and tears are all in vain.
We part but ne’er shall meet again.

I wish I was a country girl,
My cows to milk my to lambs to tell
And love I’d never took in hand
I’d never parted with Jack Ran.

Editor's Notes:

1. Bagnigge Wells = A pleasure garden

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As Place's headnote suggests, Jack Rann aka Sixteen String Jack was a well-known highway man who was hanged at Tyburn in 1774. He was known for his extravagance sense of dress, including the sixteen colorful strings that he worse on his breeches. He also wore a large number of flowers in his coat at atrial, and allegedly had a pea green suit made for his execution.

The Roud index lists two prints of this song, one in the Madden Ballad collection (Reel 2; Frame 1526), where it is printed with the title “Miss Roach and Jack Ran’s Parting”; and one in a songster printed in London in the 1790 by J. Evans called the The New Summer’s Amusement, or, An entertaining companion to Vauxhall, Ranelagh, the Theatres, and all other places of public entertainment, where the song is titled "Miss Roach and Jack Ran".

Another printing can be found in The New Winter's Amusement, or An Entertaining Companion to Vauxhall, Ranelagh, the Theatres, and all other Places of Public Entertainment. This songster, printed in Nottingham, (a copy of which can be found at the Nottinghamshire Archives is clearly dependent on The New Summer’s Amusement discussed above for it's content.

It was also printed in Songsters favorite, printed at the Printing Office in Rusell STreet London in approximately 1780.

The earliest printing I've been able to locate is in a songster called The Buck's Delight containing the following new favorite songs, with an estimated printing date of 1770, although, as Jack Rann wasn't executed until 1774, it's likely to have been after that date. 

The Buck's Delight version of the ballad reads as follows:

Farewell Ye Rock, Farewell ye Plains
No more will Miss Roach on you reign
You roadmen all adieu to thee,
Likewise to Shakespeare's Jubilee.

I wish I had been some country girl,
My cows to milk my ewes to tell,
And love I had never took in hand,
I had never parted with Jack Ran.

Farewell my dear, farewell Miss Roach,
Since Tyburn Tree must part us both
Your sighs and tears are all in vain,
We only part to meet again.

What you say is true, my dear Jack Ran,
When love's apart we will shake hands
May angels guard you from all rocks,
That we may join in Cupid's flocks.

In Portland-Square Ilived, 'tis true
Where many people there we knew
With a bunch of strings tied to each knee,
I thought no lad as flash as me.

No lark, no linnet, nor turtle dove,
Was ever so divided from their love,
I strove to rise but could not fly,
So here in Newgate cell I lie.

When I am cast and going to die,
There are many people will pass by,
Your shining gold will not save me,
Nor set me free from Tyburn tree.

O hark! I see Sepulchre's toll,
The lord have mercy on my soul,
May angels receive me when I die,
I don't care where my body lies.

You roadmen all I pray attend,
To these few lines which are pen'd.
Leave off your thieving, take good ways,
Then you may all see happy days.

View in Roud Index