“Sweet Fanny Adams”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1867? (broadside announcing execution of Baker)
Keywords: grief rape violence abduction crime execution homicide punishment death mourning children mother
Found in: Britain(England(South))

Description

Fanny Adams, her sister, and another girl go to play, but meet a clerk named Frederick Baker. He sends the younger children off with money for sweets, then murders Fanny. The singer grieves for her daughter, but notes that her murderer is now dead as well

Long description

The singer's eight-year-old daughter Fanny Adams and her sister go to play with another girl, but they meet a young clerk named Frederick Baker. He offers the younger children money for sweets; when they have gone, he drags Fanny to the hollow. She is missed, and the searchers find her body, murdered and horribly dismembered. The mother grieves for her daughter, but notes that her murderer is now dead as well

Notes

The murder took place at Alton, in Hampshire. Cruel to relate, the expression "Sweet Fanny Adams" became part of British vernacular; in the Royal Navy it was used to refer to any dubious meat dish.

In more recent popular usage, it means "nothing"; if one doesn't get paid for a job, for example, one says one got "Sweet Fanny Adams" or "Sweet F. A." In this context, of course, it is a euphemism for "sweet fuck-all.' - PJS

Historical references

Recordings

References

  1. Kennedy 333, "Sweet Fanny Adams" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #2152
  3. BI, K333