Breedloves's Folk Songs


“Maggie May” is a traditional Liverpool folk song about a prostitute who robbed a sailor.
It has been the informal anthem of the city of Liverpool for about 150 years. Stan Hugill
in his Shanties from the Seven Seas writes of an early reference to the song in the diary of
Charles Picknell, a sailor on the convict ship Kains that sailed to Van Diemen’s Land in
1830. “Maggie May” has some similarities with the American song “Nellie Gray” which
was written in 1856. “Maggie” is coarse and cheerful. “Nellie” is a sad criticism of
slavery which went on to become a favorite tune among bluegrass performers. This song
should not be confused with Rod Stewart‘s song of the same name, Maggie May“, which
topped the US and UK charts in 1971.
Oh dirty maggie may they have taken her away
And she never walk down lime street anymore
Oh the judge he guilty found her
Of robbing home a pounder
That dirty no good robbin’ maggie may
Just a part of Liverpool
She earned a term with two
Two pounds ten a week, that was my pay…

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