22. Says he McFlannagan you’re a fine fellow you

No. 22

        Sir John Fielding chief Magistrate at Bow Street
was blind towards the latter end of his life.

                   A song was ma which gave an account of a
thief, whom he predicted would be hanged transported finished thus

            “Why you lie you old blind B----r I’ll be
back by Christmas day.”

Say's he McFlanagan's a fine fellow you
      Your just fit to go to sea.
Why you lie you old blind bug——r
      I’ll be back by Christmas day.

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John Fielding (1721-1780) who was blind from the age of 19, was the half-brother of the novelist, playwright and magistrate Henry Fielding. Henry had employed John to act as his assistant as he set up one of the first organized police forces in London, known as the Bow Street Runners, which included a professionalized, salaried group of detectives. Together the brothers pioneered several strategies to administer law, such as publishing descriptions of criminals and forming a criminal records office known as the Universal Register Office. After Henry's death, in 1754 John went on to become solely responsible for the runners until his death, and became known as the Blind Beak of Bow Street. The tactics revolutionized policing, but were very unpopular among the wider population.

I've been unable to locate this  particular ballad, although other ballads that deal with Sir John Fielding include "The vile seducer, or The young milliner trapan'd" (Roud V21225), and, the much more widely circulating Wild and Wicked Youth (Roud 490), which has been recorded by Walter Pardon, Harry Cox, Martin Carthy, Burd Ellen, and One Leg One Eye among many others, and about which more can be found in this article by by Simon Rosati. A fascinating discussion of the ballad between Debbie Armour (of Burd Ellen) and Jon Wilks can be heard on the Old Songs Podcast, as part of a discussion of the related ballad The Unfortunate Rake (Roud 2).