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|There is a broadside in the Roxburghe collection circa 1656 titled Love's Fierce Desire, etc.: A true and brief Description of two resolved loves, etc. To an excellent new Tune (its own) or, Fair Angel of England. It begins "Now the Tyrant hath stolen my dearest away." It is much longer but there is some similarity to this ballad. Broadwood believes the 1656 ballad (if not the tune) is based on an even older ballad.
In Playford's Musical Companion (1667) there is a different four-verse song, Though the Tyrant hath ravished my dearest away. Though the words are not similar to the earlier ballad, the tune is distinctly similar to this one. Several 17th century ballads are directed to be sung to the tune The Tyrant hath stolen.
Other versions from Sussex begin with "A merry King (of Old England) has stolen" or "The Americans have stolen." One version refers to the rough wooing of a maiden by Edward IV of England, so it is possible he is the rival referred to in other versions.
This song was collected by Lucy Broadwood in Surrey in 1898.
Some rival has stolen my true love away,
So I in Old England no longer can stay;
I will swim the wide ocean all round my fair breast
To find out my true love whom I love best.
When I have found out my true love and delight
I'll welcome her kindly by day or by night;
For the bells shall be a-ringing, and the drums
make a noise
To welcome my true love with ten thousand joys.
Here's a health to all lovers that are loyal and just!
Here's confusion to the rival that lives in distrust!
But it's I'll be as constant as a true turtle dove,
For I never will, at no time, prove false to my love.
English Traditional Songs and Carols
See Bibliography for full information.