MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

George Alfred Beckett

Performed by Mrs. Peter Mushrow Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 18 Track 8
Community: Cape Ray Audio: Yes
Genre: Newfoundland ballad / murder Musical notation available

Transcription

George Alfred Beckett is my name as you may understand
Brought up by honest parents I belong to Newfoundland
From a pleasant little village so beautiful and grand
Near the Atlantic Ocean, a place called Old Perlican

My parents reared me tenderly the truth I will make known
And good advice they gave to me when I was leaving home
My mother prayed for my return as she had done before
As I left home that day to roam far from my native shore

To the coalfields of Cape Breton my course I then did stray
And for to get employment I landed in Glace Bay
But little did my parents think when they bid me good-bye
This awful crime I would commit and be condemned to die

One evening late last autumn as you may understand
To take me out on Tower road I engaged a taxi man
He little thought as we rode on I had an iron bar
These dreadful wounds for to conflict and rob him in his car

From thence I made a quick escape to get home was my plan
I left Glace Bay and sailed away back home to Newfoundland
It was 'bout three weeks later the police were on my trail
Arrested me for murder and brought me to St. John's jail

From there back to Cape Breton my trial for to stand
And never no more to see again my own dear native land
The jury found me guilty the judge made this reply
On the thirtieth day of April for this murder you must die

Here's to my aged parents I now must bid adieu
My sisters and my brothers and likewise my children too
My not forgetting my dear wife wherever she may be
So loving kind and gentle for the fault as all with me

I wish to thank all my dear friends who were so kind to me
My clergymen and lawyers who tried to set me free
Likewise the warden of the jail who courage to me gave
Long may he live to enjoy his health when I am in my grave

My life is almost to an end my days are just a few
Take my advice and … live and avoid those troubles too
And never murder anyone no matter what you do
Or like me you'll die on the gallows at the age of forty-two

Now to conclude and finish from this world I must depart
For the murder of Nick Matthews (Marthos?) I 'm sorry to the heart
And let all men take warning to heed to what I say
May the Lord have mercy upon my soul when I do pass away


Notes

Sources:

History: The song text refers to Old Perlican, an outport near the top of Conception Bay. In the Bay Roberts Guardian on Friday, December 31, 1930, the incident described in the song was reported:

George Alfred Beckett had made a full and complete confession to the murder of Nicholas Marthos, Glace Bay taxi driver, on Sept. 22nd. Beckett was arrested several weeks ago at his father's home in Old Perlican and extradited to Glace Bay, C.B.

There is a Beckett heritage site in Old Perlican but it is not known whether the family were kin of George Alfred.

Text: The singer confesses his murder of Nick Marthos. Beckett is probably the composer, although it is conceivable that someone else related the story from his point of view.

Tune: An abba form in a major key and triple metre.

 

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