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Loyalist, British Songs & Poetry of the American Revolution

Ballads, songs, and poems from the American Revolutionary Era can be used to understand the conflict that existed between the Loyalists and Patriots.

The American Vicar of Bray

When Royal George rul'd o'er this land,
And loyalty no harm meant,
For church and king I made a stand,
And so I got preferment.
I still opposed all party tricks,
For reasons I thought clear ones,
And swore it was their politics,
To make us Presbyterians .
And this is law I will maintain,
Until my dying day, sir,
Let whatsoever king will reign,
I'll be the Vicar of Bray, sir.
When Stamp Act pas'd the Parliament,
To bring some grist to mill, sir,
To back it was my firm intent,
But soon there came repeal, sir.
I quickly join'd the common cry,
That we should all be slaves, sir,
The House of Commons was a sty,
The King and Lords were knaves, sir.
Now all went smooth as smooth could be,
I strutted and look'd big, sir;
And when they laid a tax on tea,
I was believed a Whig, sir.
I laugh'd at all the vain pretence
Of taxing at this distance,
And swore before I'd pay my pence,
I'd make a firm resistance.
A Congress now was quickly call'd,
That we might act together;
I thought that Britain would apall'd
Be glad to make fair weather,
And soon repeal th' obnoxious bill,
As she had done before, sir,
That we may gather wealth at will,
And so be tax'd no more, sir.
But Britain was not quickly scar'd,
She told another story;
When independence was declar'd,
I figur'd as a Tory;
Declar'd it was rebellion base,
To take up arms -- I curs'd it--
For faith it seemed a settled case,
That we should soon be worsted.
When penal laws were pass'd by vote,
I thought the test a grievance,
Yet sooner than I'd loose a goat,
I swore the State allegiance.
The then disguise could hardly pass,
For I was much suspected;
I felt myself much like the ass
In lion's skin detected.
The French alliance now came forth,
The papists flocked in shoals, sir,
Frizeur Marquises, Valets of birth,
And priests to save our souls, sir.
Our "good ally," with tow'ring wing,
Embrac'd the flattering hope, sir,
That we should own him for our king,
And then invite the Pope, sir.
When Howe, with drums and great parade,
March'd through this famous town, sir,
I cried, "May Fame his temples shade
"With laurels for a crown, sir."
With zeal I swore to make ammends
To good old constitution,
And drank confusion to the friends
Of our late revolution.
But poor Burgoyne's denounced my fate,
The Whigs began to glory,
I now bewail'd my wretched state,
That I was e'er a Tory,
By night the British left the shore,
Nor car'd for friends a fig, sir,
I turn'd the cat in pan once more,
And so became a Whig, sir.
I call'd the army butch'ring dogs,
A bloody tyrant King, sir,
The Commons, Lords, a set of rogues,
That all deserved to swing, sir.
Since fate has made us great and free,
And Providence can't falter,
So long till death my king shall be,
Unless the times should alter.

The World Turned Upside Down

Listen to me and you shall hear, news hath not been this thousand year:
Since Herod, Caesar, and many more, you never heard the like before.
Holy-dayes are despis'd, new fashions are devis'd.
Old Christmas is kickt out of Tow
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.
The wise men did rejoyce to see our Savior Christs Nativity:
The Angels did good tidings bring, the Sheepheards did rejoyce and sing.
Let all honest men, take example by them.
Why should we from good Laws be bound?
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.
Command is given, we must obey, and quite forget old Christmas day:
Kill a thousand men, or a Town regain, we will give thanks and praise amain.
The wine pot shall clinke, we will feast and drinke.
And then strange motions will abound.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.
Our Lords and Knights, and Gentry too, doe mean old fashions to forgoe:
They set a porter at the gate, that none must enter in thereat.
They count it a sin, when poor people come in.
Hospitality it selfe is drown'd.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.
The serving men doe sit and whine, and thinke it long ere dinner time:
The Butler's still out of the way, or else my Lady keeps the key,
The poor old cook, in the larder doth look,
Where is no goodnesse to be found,
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.
To conclude, I'le tell you news that's right, Christmas was kil'd at Naseby fight:
Charity was slain at that same time, Jack Tell troth too, a friend of mine,
Likewise then did die, rost beef and shred pie,
Pig, Goose and Capon no quarter found.
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down

The Rebels

Ye brave honest subjects who dare to be loyal,
And have stood the brunt of every trial,
Of hunting shirts and rifle guns;
Come listen awhile and I'll tell you a song;
I'll show you those Yankees are all in the wrong,
Who, with blustering look and most awkward gait,
'Gainst their lawful sovereign dare for to prate,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
The arch-rebels, barefooted tatterdemalions,
In baseness exceed all other rebellions,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns:
To rend the empire, the most infamous lies,
Their mock-patriot Congress, do always devise;
Independence, like the first rebels, they claim,
But their plots will be damned in the annals of fame,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
Forgetting the mercies of Great Britain's King,
Who saved their forefathers' necks from the string,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns,
They renounce all allegiance and take up their arms,
Assemble together like hornets in swarms,
So dirty their backs, and so wretched their show,
That carrion-crow follows wherever they go,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
With loud peels of laughter, you sides, sirs, would crack,
To see General Convict and Colonel Shoe-Black,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
See cobblers and quacks, rebel priests and the like,
Pettifoggers and barbers, with sword and with pike,
All strutting the standard of Satan beside,
And honest names using, their black deeds to hide,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
This perjured banditti, now ruin this land,
And o'er its poor people claim lawless command,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
Their pasteboard dollars prove a common curse,
They don't chink like silver and gold in our purse,
With nothing their leaders have paid their debts off,
Their honor's, dishonor, and justice they scoff,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
For one lawful ruler, many tyrants we've got,
Who force young and old to their wars, to be shot,
With their hunting shirts and rifle guns.
Our good King, God speed him! never used men so,
We then could speak, act, and like freemen could go,
But committees enslave us, our liberty's gone,
Our trade and church murdered; our country's undone,
By hunting shirts and rifle guns.
Come take up you glasses, each true loyal heart,
And may every rebel meet his due dessert,
With his hunting shirt and rifle gun.
May Congress, Conventions, those damned inquisitions,
Be fed with hot sulphur from Lucifer's kitchens,
May commerce and peace again be restored,
And Americans own their true sovereign lord,
Then oblivion to shirts and rifle guns.

Tradesmen's Song

Again, my social Friends, we meet
To celebrate our annual display
This great, this glorious Natal Day:
'Tis George's Natal Day we sing,
Our firm, our steady Friend and King.
For Britain's Parliament and Laws
He waves his own Imperial Power,
For this (Old England's glorious Cause)
May Heaven on him its blessings shower,
And Colonies, made happy, sing,
Great George, their real Friend and King.
Since Britain first at Heaven's command
Arose from out the Azure Main,
Did ever, o'er this jarring land
A Monarch with more firmness reign?
Then to the Natal Day we'll sing,
Of George, our sacred Friend and King.
To Charlotte fair, our matchless Queen,
To all his blooming heavenly Line,
To all their Family and Friends,
Let us in hearty chorus join,
And George's Natal Day let's sing,
Our gracious Father, Friend, and King.
And may the heavenly Powers combine,
While we with loyal hearts implore
That one of his most sacred Line
May rule these Realms till time's no more.
And we, with cheerful voices sing,
Great George, our steady, natal King.
-- Pennsylvania Ledger, October 22, 1777

The American Times (Odell)

When Faction, pois'nous as the scorpion's sting,
Infects the people and insults the King;
When foul Sedition skulks no more concealed,
But grasps the sword and rushes to the field;
When Justice, Law, and Truth are in disgrace,
And Treason, Fraud, and Murder fill their place;
Smarting beneath accumulated woes,
Shall we not dare the tyrants to expose?
Bad are the Times, almost too bad to paint;
The whole head sickens, the whole heart is faint;
The State is rotten, rotten to the core,
'Tis all one bruize, one putrefying sore.
Hear thy indictment, Washington, at large;
Attend and listen to the solemn charge;
Thou hast supported an atrocious cause
Against thy King, thy Country , and the laws;
Committed perjury, encourag'd lies,
Forced conscience, broken the most sacred ties;
Myriads of wives and fathers at thy hand
Their slaughter'd husbands, slaughter'd sons demand;
That pastures hear no more the lowing kine,--
That towns are desolate, all -- all is thine.
I swear by Him, who rules the earth and sky,
The dread event shall equally apply;
That Clinton's warfare is the war of God,
And Washington shall feel the vengeful rod.
O! may that hour be soon! for pity's sake,
Genius of Britain, from thy slumber wake,
Too long has mercy spoke, but spoke in vain;
Let justice now in awful terror reign.

A Song (1779)

Ho–all to the borders! Vermonters, come down,
With your breeches of deerskin and jackets of brown;
With your red woollen caps and your moccasins come,
To the gathering summons of trumpet and drum.
Come down with your rifles!
Let gray wolf and fox
Howl on in the shade of their primitive rocks;
Let the bear feed securely from pig-pen and stall;
Here's two-legged game for your powder and ball.
On our south came the Dutchmen, enveloped in grease;
And arming for battle while canting of peace;
On our east crafty Meshech has gathered his band
To hang up our leaders and eat up our land.
Ho–all to the rescue! For Satan shall work
No gain for his legions of Hampshire and York!
They claim our possessions–the pitiful knaves–
The tribute we pay shall be prisons and graves!
Let Clinton and Ten Broek with bribes in their hands,
Still seek to divide and parcel our lands;
We've coats for our traitors, whoever they are;
The warp is of feathers–the filling of tar:
Does the 'old Bay State' threaten?
Does Congress complain?
Swarms Hampshire in arms on our borders again?
Bark the war dogs of Britain aloud on the lake–
Let 'em come; what they can they are welcome to take.
What seek they among us?
The pride of our wealth
Is comfort, contentment, and labor, and health,
And lands which, as Freemen we only have trod,
Independent of all, save the mercies of God.
Yet we owe no allegiance, we bow to no throne,
Our ruler is law and the law is our own;
Our leaders themselves are our own fellow-men,
Who can handle the sword, or the scythe, or the pen.
Our wives are all true, and our daughters are fair,
With their blue eyes of smiles and their light flowing hair,
All brisk at their wheels till the dark even-fall,
Then blithe at the sleigh-ride the husking and ball!
We've sheep on the hillsides, we've cows on the plain,
And gay-tasselled corn-fields and rank-growing grain;
There are deer on the mountains, and wood-pigeons fly
From the crack of our muskets, like clouds on the sky.
And there's fish in our streamlets and rivers which take
Their course from the hills to our broad bosomed lake;
Through rock-arched Winooski the salmon leaps free,
And the portly shad follows all fresh from the sea.
Like a sunbeam the pickerel glides through the pool,
And the spotted trout sleeps where the water is cool,
Or darts from his shelter of rock and of root,
At the beaver's quick plunge, or the angler's pursuit.
And ours are the mountains, which awfully rise,
Till they rest their green heads on the blue of the skies;
And ours are the forests unwasted, unshorn,
Save where the wild path of the tempest is torn.
And though savage and wild be this climate of ours,
And brief be our season of fruits and of flowers,
Far dearer the blast round our mountains which raves,
Than the sweet summer zephyr which breathes over slaves!
Hurrah for Vermont! For the land which we till
Must have sons to defend her from valley and hill;
Leave the harvest to rot on the fields where it grows,
And the reaping of wheat for the reaping of foes
From far Michiscom's wild valley, to where
Poosoonsuck steals down from his wood-circled lair,
From Shocticook River to Lutterlock town
Ho–all to the rescue! Vermonters come down!
Come York or come Hampshire, come traitors or knaves,
If ye rule o'er our land ye shall rule o'er our graves;
Our vow is recorded–our banner unfurled,
In the name of Vermont we defy all the world!

The Congress (1776)

Ye, Tories all rejoice and sing, success to George our gracious King.
The faithful subjects tribute bring, and execrate the Congress.
These hardy knaves and stupid fools, some apish and pragmatic mules,
Some servile acquiescing tools, These compose the Congress.
Then Jove resolve to send a curse, and all the woes of life rehearse
Not plague, not famine, but much worse, He cursed us with a Congress.
Then peace forsook this hopeless shore, Then cannons blazed with horrid roar,
We hear of blood, death, wounds, and gore, The offspring of the Congress.
Prepare, prepare, my friends prepare, For scenes of blood, the field of war
To royal standard we'll repair, And curse the haughty Congress.
Huzza! Huzza! And thrice Huzza! Return peace, harmony, and law!
Restore such times as once we saw, And bid adieu to Congress.

The Pausing American Loyalist

To sign, or not to sign? That is the question.
Whether 'twere better for an honest man
To sign, and so be safe; or to resolve,
Betide what will, against associations,
And, by retreating, shun them. To fly - I reck
Not where: And, by that flight, t' escape
Feathers and tar, and thousand other ills
That loyalty is heir to: 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To fly -- to want --
To want? Perchance to starve: Ay, there's the rub!
For, in that chance of want, what ills may come
To patriot rage, when I have left my all --
Must give me pause: -- There's the respect
That makes us trim, and bow to men we hate.
For, who would bear th' indignities o' th' times,
Congress decrees, and wild convention plans,
The laws controll'd, and inj'ries unredressed,
The insolence of knaves, and thousand wrongs
Which patient liege men from vile rebels take,
When he, sans doubt, might certain safety find,
Only by flying? Who would bend to fools,
And truckle thus to mad, mob-chosen upstarts,
But that the dread of something after flight
(In that blest country, where, yet, no moneyless
Poor wight can live) puzzles the will,
And makes ten thousands rather sign -- and eat,
Than fly -- to starve on loyalty. --
Thus, dread of want makes rebels of us all:
And thus the native hue of loyalty
Is sicklied o'er with a pale cast of trimming;
And enterprises of great pith and virtue,
But unsupported, turn their streams away,
And never come to action.

Anacreontic Song

To ANACREON in Heav'n, where he sat in full Glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
That He their Inspirer and Patron wou'd be;
When this Answer arriv'd from the JOLLY OLD GRECIAN
"Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
"No longer be mute,
"I'll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
"And, besides, I'll instruct you like me, to intwine
"The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS's Vine.

The news through OLYMPUS immediately flew;
When OLD THUNDER pretended to give himself Airs_
If these Mortals are suffer'd their Scheme to pursue,
The Devil a Goddess will stay above Stairs.
"Hark! already they cry,
"In Transports of Joy
"Away to the Sons of ANACREON we'll fly,
"And there, with good Fellows, we'll learn to intwine
"The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine.

"The YELLOW-HAIR'D GOD and his nine fusty Maids
"From HELICON'S Banks will incontinent flee,
"IDALIA will boast but of tenantless Shades,
"And the bi-forked Hill a mere Desart will be
"My Thunder, no fear on't,
"Shall soon do it's Errand,
"And, dam'me! I'll swinge the Ringleaders I warrant,
"I'll trim the young Dogs, for thus daring to twine
"The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine.

APOLLO rose up; and said, "Pr'ythee ne'er quarrel,
"Good King of the Gods with my Vot'ries below:
"Your Thunder is useless_then, shewing his Laurel,
Cry'd. "Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
"Then over each Head
"My Laurels I'll spread
"So my Sons from your Crackers no Mischief shall dread,
"Whilst snug in their Club-Room, they Jovially twine
"The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine.

Next MOMUS got up, with his risible Phiz,
And swore with APOLLO he'd cheerfull join_
"The full Tide of Harmony still shall be his,
"But the Song, and the Catch, & the Laugh shall bemine
"Then, JOVE, be not jealous
Of these honest Fellows,
Cry'd JOVE, "We relent, since the Truth you now tell us;
"And swear, by OLD STYX, that they long shall entwine
"The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine.

Ye Sons of ANACREON, then, join Hand in Hand;
Preserve Unanimity, Friendship, and Love!
'Tis your's to support what's so happily plann'd;
You've the Sanction of Gods, and the FIAT of JOVE.
While thus we agree
Our Toast let it be.
May our Club flourish happy, united and free!
And long may the Sons of ANACREON intwine
The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine.

Masonic Song
Ye Sons of Old Killie

YE sons of old Killie, assembled by Willie,
To follow the noble vocation;
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another
To sit in that honoured station.
I’ve little to say, but only to pray,
As praying’s the ton of your fashion;
A prayer from thee Muse you well may excuse
’Tis seldom her favourite passion.

Ye powers who preside o’er the wind, and the tide,
Who markèd each element’s border;
Who formed this frame with beneficent aim,
Whose sovereign statute is order:—
Within this dear mansion, may wayward Contention
Or witherèd Envy ne’er enter;
May secrecy round be the mystical bound,
And brotherly Love be the centre!

General Howe's Letter

As to kidnap the Congress has long been my aim,
I lately resolved to accomplish the same;
And that none in the glory might want his due share,
All the troops were to Brunswick desired to repair,
Derry down, down, down Derry down.
2. There I met them in person and took the command,
When I instantly told them the job upon hand;
I did not detain them with long-winded stuff,
But made a short speech and each soldier looked bluff.
Derry down, down, down Derry down.
3. With this omen elated, towards Quibbletown,
I led them concluding the day was our own;
For, till we went thither, the coast was quite clear,
But Putnam and Washington, damn them, were there!
Derry down, down, down Derry down.
4. I own I was staggered to see with what skill,
The rogues were intrenched on the brow of the hill;
With a view to dismay them, I showed my whole force,
But they kept their position, and cared not a curse.
Derry down, down, down Derry down.
5. There were then but two ways-- to retreat or attack,
And to me it seemed wisest by far to go back;
For I thought if I rashly got into a fray,
There might both be the Devil and Piper to pay.
Derry down, down, down Derry down.
6. Then, to lose no more time by parading in vain,
I determined elsewhere to transfer the campaign;
So just as we went, we returned to this place,
With no other difference -- than mending our pace.
Derry down, down, down Derry down.
7. Where next we proceed is not yet very clear,
But when we get there, be assured you shall hear;
I’ll settle that point when I meet with my brother,
Meanwhile, we’re embarking for some place or other.
Derry down, down, down Derry down.
8. Having briefly, my lord, told you how the land lies,
I hope there’s enough for a word to the wise;
‘Tis a good horse, they say, that never will stumble,
But fighting or flying, I’m your very humble.
Derry down, down, down Derry down.

God Save the King

God save great George our King,
Long live our noble King,
God Save the King!
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the King.
O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter his enemies,
And make them fall,
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks!
On him our hearts are fix't,
O save us all.
O grant him long to see
Friendship and unity,
Always increase:
May he his septre sway,
All loyal souls obey,
Join heart and voice, huzzah!
God save the King!

Websites with Information on Loyalists

To learn more about the Loyalists, scholars start with the history of the American Revolution. British Loyalists were a group of American Settlers or Colonists that remained loyal to Britain during the American Revolution. Loyalists were also known as Tories, Royalists or King’s men. The On-line Institute of Advanced Loyalist Studies offers topics on the history, military, genealogy and reenactments of the Americans who remained loyal to the British Crown. As in any war, there are two perspectives; there is the Loyalists’ perspective of the American Revolution and the Patriots’ perspective. There are different subthemes concerning the Loyalists’ struggles, which include their philosophies, treasons, and reasons for their support for the British hierarchy. The Articles of Association can help shed light on why it was difficult for the colonialists to unite.