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The Doctor Origins: Sam Hall & Nobby Hall which was first? (14) RE: Origins: Sam Hall & Nobby Hall which was first? 03 Dec 11


Sam Hall was originally Jack or John Hall, sold by his parents at the age of 7 for one guinea to a chimney sweep. He quickly realised that a life of crime was far more appealing, and soon gained a reputation as an expert housebreaker, albeit a violent one. He was sentenced to death in 1700, and many books and internet sites give his death as 1701. However, his sentence was commuted to exile, and he left for America - possibly an early government initiative on crime. But he came back after only a matter of months, and was eventually hanged on 17th December 1707, as recorded in the Newgate Calendar. Whilst waiting for the end he compiled a glossary of cant terms, and so appears in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as a lexicographer. The earliest text of the song dates from the 1780s and comprises just two verses - I have furnished all my rooms' and 'I sailed up Tyburn Hill in a cart' . A full version was published by John Pitts between 1820 and 1844, but the version we have today, whether Sam or Jack Hall, is based on that performed by WG Ross, an unsuccessful actor, in the 1840s and 50s. The tune is that of the song Captain Kidd, who was hanged in 1701, and is related to that of Admiral Benbow, Ye Jacobites by name, Davy Lowston and many others. Where Nobby Hall fits in to all this I don't know.


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