"The Cavalier Songs and Ballads of England from 1642 to 1684" edited by Charles Mackay is available online in at least two different formats.
The best way (I've seen) to browse through it is to go to the Project Gutenberg edition (scanned and proofed by David Price, online since September 1997):
Difficulties with this version are that it's all on one page, with all footnotes on the bottom.
Songs are on individual pages at the following website, but they're all mixed up with songs from other historical periods, so browsing is much more involved. But if you know the song you want, it's easier to read here and the footnotes are on the same, brief, individual web page:
Index page -- Songs of England
This site also has Mackay's introduction here:
22 Feb 2003, 12:26 a.m. - Roger Miller
An example of another sort of music that Pepys would have been familiar with from 'Early English Books Online':
This is from 'Ayres and dialogues, for one, two, and three voyces by Heny Lawes, 1596-1662. London : Printed by T. H. for John Playford 1653'
The left hand page has the tune and a bass part that could be played on either a viol or lute. It would possible for one person to both sing the tune and accompany themselves. (This is what Pepys was doing on 18th February 1660 http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/02/18/) Experienced players would know how to fill in the harmony. If more singers were available then the right hand page has has a second voice harmonising with the tune and a third part for bass voice. The second voice part is printed upside down so that it can be read easily when the singers are sitting round a table with the music laid on it.
The text is:
Once Venus cheeks that sham'd the morn. her hew let fall;
her Lips that Winter had out-born, in June look'd pale;
her Heat grew cold, her Nectar dry,
no Dew she had but in her Eye,
the wonted fire and flames to mortifie.
When was this so dismal sight?
When Adonis bad Good-night.
25 Apr 2003, 3:38 p.m. - Emilio
Tom and Dick
[Repost of another interesting political ballad, also from Roger Miller for 28 March, 1660:]
This is the text of the Drapers’ Hall ballad from the Bodleian Library’s broadsheet collection.
The song is addressed directly to Monck. It identifies the cause of the troubles of both town and country as ‘Our damned breach of Oaths and Laws;Our Murther of the King’ and ends by asking ‘Restore us but our Laws agen’. Note that it doen’t actually call for the restoration of the monarchy. It’s more about calling on Monck to demonstrate that he can be trusted.
14 Jul 2004, 6:55 a.m. - Ruben
Ballad that Pepys probably heard:
and famous music from his time:
All at the site of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University
14 Jul 2004, 7:10 a.m. - Ruben
Music and ballads published about General Monck, the Rump Parliament, King Charles II, etc. See at the Bodleian this enormous and exhaustive archive, the best I ever saw in my entire life:
30 Jan 2005, 6:35 p.m. - Clement
A link working as of Jan 05 to a sampling of Sam's song, Beauty Retire:
29 Jul 2005, 2:16 a.m. - david ross mcirvine
There is a good web page on "English Song in the Elizabethan and Stuart Periods" at
with a good list of more than forty composers to the left. This includes a few I didn't know (despite all the renaissance songbooks that have circulated in my otherwise musical family).
29 Jul 2005, 2:40 a.m. - david ross mcirvine
MUSIC FOR MANY MIGHTY MADRIGALS
PDF file versions of many of the transcriptions of these songs are
available by clicking on the individual
composer's name from this page
and then clicking on the song title.
22 May 2006, 7:04 p.m. - Terry Foreman
"In organizing his ballads, Pepys came up with categories which seemed to him to reflect the groupings of the broadsides that he had collected. Volume 1 of the five volumes is assumed mainly to consist of the ballads gathered by John Selden, whose collection Pepys purchased to begin his own, and the following essays survey the ballads included in Volume 1. As the archive expands, trends in the later volumes will be analyzed."
Some contemporary music...
Jeremy Barlow & the Broadside Band:
More samples on:
12 Oct 2006, 7:49 p.m. - Terry Foreman
The Pepys Ballads sung a cappela
scroll down and click on the "Song" of your choice - uses Quick Time Player.
25 Feb 2009, 5:25 p.m. - Ruben
Romain Rolland was not only a novelist (and a Nobel prize winer) but also wrote many historical books, some of them about music.
In one of them, published in 1922, "A musical tour through the land of the past" he dedicates a chapter to "An English Amateur" all of it about Pepys!
It is the perfect monograph about music, Pepys and his time in spite of the 90 years that passed.
Rolland did not know that Sheldon was the one that developed the tachigraphic writing used by Pepys.
You can find the book in English in Toronto's University library:
6 Dec 2009, 2:34 p.m. - Jim M
There's a nice summary of Pepy's interest in declamatory verse in
Pepys' Shakespeare Song
* MacDonald Emslie
* Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Spring, 1955), pp. 159-170
* Published by: Folger Shakespeare Library in association with George Washington University.
This article is available through JSTOR to those with institutional JSTor affiliations, at
It includes a copy of Hamlet's famous soliloqy set to music by Morelli, and the author suggests the words were selected by Pepys for Morelli.
13 Jul 2010, 12:38 p.m. - Bradford
Broadcast of music Pepys mentions in the Diary:
On Radio 3's "Classical Collection" for Tuesday 13 July 2010:
you can hear these three brief works, running from 59:00-1:09:00.
Henry Lawes, "Orpheus' Hymn, 'O King of Heaven and Hell'" (mentioned 4 March 1660);
Matthew Locke, Courante from the Suite #6 in D from "The Broken Consort" (to signify the music played on the Naseby en route to fetch Charles II, 23 April 1660);
Pelham Humfrey, scene from "The Masque of Neptune and Amphitrite" (Pepys did not think much of "Monsieur" when meeting him in November 1667).
---all performed with great style. The programme will be available online until 20 July 2010.
24 Oct 2010, 2:10 p.m. - JWB
"Broadside Ballads of 17th Century England"
Lucie Skeaping's Lecture & audio/video presentation from Gresham College-
'An exploration of the social context of the ballads, their appearance, language, selling methods and the origins of the tunes to which they were sung. The lecture will combine history, projected images and musical examples (performed to lute and cittern).'
3 Feb 2011, 12:48 a.m. - Michael Robinson
English Broadside Ballad Archive – Searchable online
What is a broadside ballad? In its heyday of the the first half of the seventeenth century, a broadside ballad was a single large sheet of paper printed on one side (hence “broad-side”) with multiple eye-catching illustrations, a popular tune title, and an alluring poem—the latter mostly in black-letter, or what we today call “gothic,” type. About 8,000-10,000 English broadside ballads of the entire seventeenth-century survive.
EBBA's goal is to make these ballads fully accessible as texts, art, music, and cultural records of the period. Toward that end, we provide high-quality Images of the ballads in a variety of renderings together with full textual Transcriptions, which allow for the full text to be both more legible and searchable. We also supply thoroughly researched and expertly performed Recordings of ballads with extant tunes as well as extensive Cataloguing of citation information, rigorously gathered to be compliant with both bibliographic and text-encoding standards.
The Pepys collection of over 1,800 ballads resides in The Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Samuel Pepys collected most of his ballads into five album books with approximate dimensions of 340 x 358 mm. The volumes are roughly 70 mm. thick, with Volume 1 closer to 100 mm. since it contains earlier ballads which are on heavier paper. The individual ballads were trimmed and sometimes cut in half to fit into these volumes (see Images and Ballad Sheet Sizes), and EBBA provides the dimensions of the trimmed and cut ballads in the catalogue of each ballad. Each ballad in the collection is catalogued extensively and includes volume and page number(s): for example, a two-part ballad on pp. 224-225 of volume 1 would be catalogued as 1.224-225. There are ten ballads in the Pepys library that are not in the ballad collection proper, however; these were pasted into various other books owned by Pepys and are indicated by their Pepys library number and the page number onto which they were pasted.
Pepys’s album collection was begun with the acquisition of John Selden’s ballad collection (probably in the 1680s), which forms most of volume 1. The entire collection of five albums is a significant but small part of a larger collecting initiative on the part of Pepys that resulted in an extensive library by the time of his death in 1703 of some 3,000 works (on Pepys the man and his ballad collecting in the light of his collecting practices as a whole, see Pepys and his Collecting). Pepys gathered the ballads in his collection roughly chronologically and also by category. For an overview of Pepys’s organizing principles for his ballad collection as well as individual essays on each of the categories by which Pepys gathered his ballads from volume to volume, see Pepys’s Categories. For editions of the Pepys ballads, see Printed Editions.
22 Aug 2021, 7:56 p.m. - San Diego Sarah
A Gutenberg Library book containing the lyrics to Elizabethan songs that Pepys must have grown up with ... just as we know Ella Fitzgerald and Lead Belly today.