MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

The Dartmouth Tragedy

Nicholas Davis NFLD 2 Tape 16 Track 6
St. Shott's Audio:

In the town of Dartmouth as ye soon shall hear
Of a wealthy squire who did live there
He reared one daughter a beauty bright
In her father's coach boy she took great delight

As she went walking one day alone
To her love Johnny she made sad moan
Sayin' John, dear John no longer can I come see you
But my mind to thee I must now reveal

Lady fair make no mark of me
For I’m your coach boy of a low degree
No mark at all John shall I make of thee
But my mind in earnest I will tell quite free

Her old father in ambush lay
Hearing now what his daughter did say
Sayin' daughter, daughter go as you please
You may change your notes but I know your plan

She threw herself on her bended knees
Saying cruel father do as you please
No other young man could I ever love more
Than your darling coach boy whom I do adore

Her old father as you soon shall hear
He called his servant for to appear
He paid his wages without a frown
This young man's heart filled up and the tears rolled down

He had been scarcely two miles from the town
When a sergeant’s press-gang did him surround
Out of a pocket took a diamond ring
And a gay gold watch which he knew nothing

To Dartmouth jail this young man was sent
Where he lay in grief and sad discontent
Where he lay in grief, as ye soon shall hear
Till the day of his trial it would draw near

Her old father as you soon shall hear
He called his daughter for to appear
Sayin' daughter, daughter won't you come and see
Your darling's dying on the gallis' tree

It was a sad and a dismal sight
To see this young man dressed all in white
With a smiling countenance he thus replied
May l kiss my darling before l die(?)

Her old father knew what was her plan
For she held a penknife pressed in her hand
You’re welcome to share the smart
It was with a penknife he pierced her heart

As she lay bleeding in her gore
Sayin' cruellest father you could do no more
You broke the hearts that were longing so
And she closed her eyes and said no more


Text: A father overhears his daughter declaring her love for the coach boy.   He pays off the boy and sends him away.   Outside of town a press gang delays him and frames him as a thief.   The boy is sentenced to be hung, and asks for one last kiss. The father then stabs his daughter with his penknife killing her.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse. The last few words are spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song. The meter is 6/8.   The key is E-Flat major with a range of a major 10 th from B-flat to E-flat.

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