“The Indian Lass”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1852 (broadside, Bodleian Harding Harding B 11(1759))
Keywords: love sex farewell drink sailor Indians(Am.)
Found in: Canada(Mar)


At a foreign ale house the singer meets "a young Indian lass [from] a place near Orleans." She invites him home, offers him a drink and they spend the night. She begs him not to leave but he sails away and offers "a health to the young Indian lass!"

Supplemental text

Indian Lass, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

Young Indian Lass

From Helen Creighton, Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia, #51, pp. 103-104.
"Sung by Mr. Richard Hartlan, of South-East Passage."

When I was a young man
  I rambled from home,
I went into an ale-house
  To spend half a crown;
And as I was sitting there
  A-viewing of my glass,
Who should happen in
  But a young Indian lass.

(4 additional stanzas)


Tune for Creighton-NovaScotia is 4/4 and no relation to the "On Top of Old Smoky" waltz common for "The Little Mohee."

The known dates for the broadsides for "The Indian Lass" don't help decide which came first,: "The Indian Lass" or "The Little Mohee"; in any case, one is clearly a derivative of the other.

In all of these broadside versions except what is -- so far -- the earliest, [the text has] "She was born and brought up in a place near Orleans"; for Bodleian Harding B 11(1759) "She was born and brought up in the place New Orleans."- BS

For discussion of the relationship of this song to "The Little Mohee," see the entry on that song. I must admit, looking at this, that I wonder if "The Little Mohee" isn't older; this looks like a version of that crossed with "The Lakes of Ponchartrain." - RBW

Broadside LOCSinging sb20217b: H. De Marsan dating per _Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song_ by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS

Cross references



  1. Creighton-NovaScotia 51, "Young Indian Lass" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Mackenzie 57, "The Indian Lass" (1 text)
  3. ST CrNS051 (Partial)
  4. Roud #2326
  5. BI, CrNS051