James Snooks Image

A Song for Beds, Herts and Bucks

Watford Folk Club's songwriting competion entries of 2012


James Snooks

By Hamish Currie

Hamish Currie Image

To the other songs

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The Banks of the Beane

The drying up of the River Beane over the last 50 years

The Great Ouse and the Colne

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The Hatter Girls

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The Hertfordshire Guards

The third Battle of Ypres, (Passchendaele) July 1917

Chartists Ballot 1846

The Chartists Ballot of 1846


The last Highwayman hanged in England 1761-1802

Begone! The Witch of Walkern

The trial of Jane Wenham 1712

The Headless Horseman

The headless horseman of Pirton

Destined to lie with the King

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St Alban

St Alban - Martyred 22 June 209, c.251 or 304 ?

Other Links

Old Time Tim

To Tim Brooks' Home Page

      I'm not begging forgiveness, nor pity, not me!
      But you ask how I ended this way
      My name is James Snooks; I've ducked and I've dived,
      Scratching a living each day.
      Once worked with the horses at the King's Arms nearby,
      So I know all these places round here,
      But I never expected to wind up my days
      On Boxmoor by these five chestnut trees.

      Some stuff had gone missing: my boss called me in,
      Asked me if I could explain.
      Things got out of hand; I shouted and cussed:
      Soon looking for work once again.
      I moved up to town, lodged at Mary-le-Bone;
      Got by as best as I could,
      But I always remembered John Stevens the boy
      Took the mail cross the moor, through the wood.

      And so one May morning I saddled the grey,
      Rode back to old Hempstead town,
      And I watched and I waited not far from this spot
      As the sun, oh so slowly, went down.
      "Stand and deliver!" I can still see his eyes
      As he gave me the mail, close to tears.
      Blow me down if that bag wasn't stuffed full with cash.
      By the time he was found, I was clear.

      In Southwark I sent a girl out for some cloth,
      Gave her a crisp fifty pounds.
      Well that caused quite a stir; there's a knock at my door
      And everything's come crashing down.
      The High Constable's my old boss from the Arms;
      As soon as I saw him I was bound
      That he'd show me no mercy:
      He'd have me in chains,
      Smile as he's sending me down.

      It's now March eleventh of eighteen-oh-two
      And the party is getting in swing.
      The man at The Swan, he's raking it in,
      But I don't hold a grudge against him.
      Who wants my gold watch? You can have it, you know
      If you promise you'll bury me nice.
      What? Will nobody speak? Well that tells me all:
      Goodbye, fare thee well, damn your eyes.


Words and melody copyright © 2012 Hamish Currie

About Hamish Currie

Hamish is a one-man Folk Industry - perfoming, composing, organising sessions, and running BURP - the Berkhamstead Ukelele Random Players. Not only is he a highly entertaining and talented performer, but he is really dedicated to getting music of all kinds outthere, and is amazingly encouraging to new performers. and what a great song this is!
Take a look at Hamish's own web site for more about what he does.

About this Song

James Snooks was supposdly the "last highwayman hanged in England". Other sources modify this by saying he was "last highwayman hanged on the scene of their crime". We do know there is a small white block marking this spot in a field in Boxmoor, surrounded by buttercups and cows! Strangely it labels the grave as "Robert Snooks" - general view is that this is a corruption of "Robber Snooks" as it's clear his name was James!

Printable Song Sheet

Click here for a printable version of the song with chords and the tasty riffs tabbed for Guitar