We’ll have a funeral for Mary
Who was buried in the jail
Procession now and fine tombstone
With mourners come to wail.
Who spoke for you, dear Mary,
When you languished in the cell?
The world bar one accused you
Promised you the fires of hell.
Only Henry, ever trusting
Only Henry, your sweetheart
Did not doubt in your virtue
Stalwart, steady, took your part.
Plain Miss Jones declared against you
Thinking she would claim your man
If they punished you for murder
Jealousy would see you hang.
Old Miss Blunt, forever sleeping
Cannot say who struck the blow
If a thief came through her window
Or her servant from below.
Storm and strife struck you that evening
Plans and dreams all stripped away
As you old mistress was slaughtered
For your blood the neighbours bray.
Only Henry, ever faithful
Would not think the worst of you,
Fought to keep you from the gallows
Never doubted, ever true.
They took you to the scaffold
You sought mercy at each turn
Blamed for a brutal murder
But your truth they did not learn.
Now they’ve found the men who slew her
Eagerly did they confess,
And Miss Jones is chased to exile
Your poor bones do others bless.
Now your Henry, always loyal
Leads your funeral parade
Your wronged corpse resurrected
Only finds another grave.
This is a true story, Mary from Littledean was hanged in Gloucester jail for a crime she was adamant she did not commit. Some years later the real murderers were found, but of course by then it was too late for her. When I read the story in Lyn Cinderey’s ‘Paranormal Gloucester’ I thought it sounded like it should be a folk song. Perhaps one day I’ll put a tune to it. In the meantime, my thanks to Lyn for the inspiration. I’m anti capital punishment, for all the reasons this poem flags up.