Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

An Highwayman's History

of his own Time

An Highwayman's History of his own Time

My original parents
      Were certainly sinners,
And, tho’ I say’t, that shou’dn't say’t,
      Early beginners.
My old Grandmother Eve
      Was so ’dicted to evil,
That if you’ll believe some folks,
      She lay with the Devil.
And my more modern ancestors,
      Following the example,
Ha’ been guilty of rogueries,
      Open and ample.
Then as to myself,
      I was rogue boy and man,
Never took a right step,
      And believe never can.
I shone in ’Change-Alley,
      And five times I broke,
Always cheated when silent,
      And ly’d when I spoke.
I bought Bull and Bears,
      And drove a vast trade,
What I got, never sav’d,
      What I lost, never paid.
When I broke, I made up
      At six-pence a pound,
Till at last I was lost,
      And have never been found.
Then I took the highway,
      And borrow’d some pelf;
For, to tell you the truth,
      I began like myself.
I robb’d like a hero,
      Without sword or gun;
I gain’d when I stood,
      And I ’scap’d when I run.
I was merciful, generous,
      Cautious, yet kind,
When it wou’dn’t come easy,
      I left it behind.
For I gave ’em good words,
      And took what they gave me,
And all men bore witness,
      How well I behav’d me.
Full twenty long year
      I follow’d the trade,
Never murder’d a man,
      Or made woman afraid.
But at last my good luck
      Unkindly forsook me,
The country came in,
      And the Hue and Cry took me.
Now they say at the gallows,
      As the mob I harangu’d,
There’s the honestest highwayman
      Ever was hang’d.
So with good reputation
      I bid you good-b’w’y’e,
May you hang me again,
      If I tell you a lye.

[The Weekly Journal; or, The British Gazetteer, 28 September 1728]

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "An Highway’s History of his own Time", 8 August 2002 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/highway.htm>

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