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Love and Liberty -song notes

LOVE & LIBERTY - Songs and tunes from in and around the Quantock Hills




Bristol’s Hotwells Howlers are proud to present this programme of traditional songs and music from West Somerset, which comes to us from four sources:


1)      Cecil Sharp’s manuscripts.  He collected songs from singers in the West Somerset area on many occasions from 1904 onwards, having begun song collecting the previous year at Hambridge, in the south of the county.


2)      Henry and Robert Hammond’s manuscripts.  They collected here in 1905 (to gather “the gleanings of Mr Sharp’s harvest”) before concentrating mainly on Dorset.


3)      Songs noted near Taunton, mainly at Bathpool, in 1916-17 by Phyllis M Marshall, the daughter of the Rector of West Monkton.  She sent the songs she noted to the Oxfordshire collector Janet Blunt, who included them in her own manuscript collection.


4)      Tunes and a song from the manuscript tune book of William Winter (1774-1861), shoemaker and fiddler who lived at Lydeard St Lawrence and West Bagborough at different periods of his life.


We are hugely fortunate today to have the Hammond and Blunt mss. (including the songs noted by Phyllis Marshall) freely available in high quality digitised form online as part of the English Folk Dance and Song Society’s Take 6 archive:   http://library.efdss.org/archives/

Copies of Cecil Sharp’s mss.  may be consulted at the Society’s Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.  The EFDSS has begun to arrange the digitisation of Sharp’s mss. as part of “The Full English” project, and it is hoped that this too will be online some time in 2013.

Sharp was a keen photographer who photographed quite a number of the singers he met.  The Society owns these photographic images, and we are grateful to have been given permission to use three of them as part of our cover design: they are Eliza Woodberry, of Ash Priors, John Short, of Watchet, and William Burland, of Stogursey.  We would like to acknowledge the support and assistance given to us by the Society, particularly librarian Malcolm Taylor and his colleagues.

William Winter’s ms. tune book is owned by Halsway Manor Society, which in 2007 published most of the traditional repertoire it contains as “William Winter’s Quantocks Tune Book”, edited by our own melodeon player, Geoff Woolfe.   This great collection of English traditional music is available from Halsway Manor:  www.halswaymanor.org.uk



Each title is followed by the name of  the lead singer on this recording, then the name and town of the source singer.  The collector is identified as follows:  S=Sharp; H=Hammond; M=Marshall; W=William Winter’s tune book.  If a song is widely known by another title, this is given after the main title.  Where appropriate, Child Ballad, Roud Folksong Index and Laws Ballad Index numbers are given.  Lyrics are given as sung on the CDs.  Where we have edited the original this is noted.


CD 1


1)  Roving Bachelor    Dave Byrne; Harry Conybeare, Combe Florey; H  (Roud 1649)


A rarely collected song which seems to have a strong Irish stylistic influence.  Roud gives only 5 versions.  Harry Conybeare, aged 70 when the Hammonds met him, sang them only two songs – this one and ‘The Merry Broomfield’ (Broomfield Wager).  In a letter (2 June 1905) to the collector and Folk Song Journal editor Lucy Broadwood, Henry Hammond records that his brother Robert Hammond was ‘indefatigable’ in hunting up singers, and that Harry Conybeare had helped them make contact with other singers.  Cecil Sharp met Mr Conybeare in 1908: he noted only one song from him (Broomfield Wager), and recorded his name as Henry Conybeare.

Mr Conybeare sang only the first 5 verses to the Hammonds.  Dave has added verses 6 & 7 from a Hampshire version.


1.       I am a roving bachelor and have been all my life.

I very soon do intend to get a pretty wife.

(CHORUS): With me right folero, titty folero, right folero lee.


2.        O such a wife as I shall choose, she is not to be found.

O such a wife as I shall choose, she is not on the ground.

(CHORUS): To me right etc.


3.        If I was to marry an old one, the boys would laugh at me.

If I was to marry a young one, a cuckold I should be.

(CHORUS): With me right etc.


4.        If I was to marry a tall one, she’d crack me on the crown.

If I was to marry a short one, she’d pull me to the ground.

(CHORUS): To me right etc.


5.        So one night as I lay on my bed, how strange it came to pass.

Who did I see by my bedside but a handsome roving lass.

(CHORUS): To me right etc.


6.        The first thing that I asked of her, if ever she were a maid?

The answer that she gave to me, O yes, I am afraid.

(CHORUS): With me right etc.


7.        The next thing that I asked of her, if ever she had a man?

The answer that she gave to me, O yes, and when I can.

(CHORUS): To me right etc.


8.        So I am a roving bachelor and have been all my life.

I very soon do intend to get a pretty wife

(CHORUS): With me right etc.



2)  The Press Gang     Harry Langston; Jack Barnard, Bridgwater; S (Roud 601; Laws N6)


        Cecil Sharp noted 29 songs from Jack Barnard (1863-1926) of Bridgwater between 1906-9.  Jack was a disabled man who had never been to school.  (His correct name may have been John Barnett – a form which Sharp uses for some of his manuscript entries.)  Jack was reputed to have had a repertoire of 150 songs.  At Sharp’s request he learned some songs, including this one, from a neighbour called Susan Clark who for a time refused to sing for Sharp.  As a result Sharp was able to obtain some of her songs by proxy!

Unsurprisingly, songs about the press gang abound in the traditional repertoire, as do songs in which wealthy parents arrange for their daughter’s poor suitor to be sent off to sea; this song ticks both boxes!  It appeared on nineteenth century broadsides, and versions have been collected all over the English-speaking world.  Harry has ‘rounded off’ the story by closing with a slightly altered version of the first verse.


1.       It’s of a rich gentleman in London did dwell.

He had but one daughter, most beautiful girl.

Three squires came a-courting and she refused all.

‘I will marry a sailor that’s proper and tall.


2.       Now father, dear father, now hinder me not.

I’ll marry a sailor, I hope it will be my lot

To see him in his charm with a smile on his face-

I’m sure that a sailor he is no disgrace.’


3.       They walked out and they talked both night and day.

They walked and they talked and fixed the wedding day.

The old man overheard it and these words he did say:

‘O He shan’t marry my daughter – I’ll press him to sea.’


4.       As they was a-walking towards the church door

The press gang o’ertook him and from her him tore.

They pressed this young fellow all on the salt sea;

Instead of getting married he sorrowed for she.


5.       She cut off her hair and she altered her clothes

And to the press master she immediately goes.

              ‘Press master, press master, do you want a man?

I am willing and ready to do all I can.’


6.       Then she shipped on board of the very same ship,

Her true love for a messmate so quickly she did take.

True love for a messmate, you quickly shall hear.

She sleep by his side for a full half a year.


7.       Now one morning, one morning as these two arose,

They got into discourse as they put on their clothes.

‘Once I had a sweetheart, in London lived she,

But it’s her cruel father that’s pressed me to sea.’


8.       She looked in his face, and looked him quite start,

Say, ‘Now I believe you are my own sweetheart,

For now we’ll get married before our ship’s crew-

We won’t care for father or all he can do.’


9.       It’s of a rich gentleman in London did dwell.

He had but one daughter, most beautiful girl.

Three squires came a-courting but she refused all

For she’s married a sailor that’s proper and tall.



3)  The Lady and the Box     Angela Shaw; Mrs Jane Gulliver (or Gulliford), Combe Florey; H

 (Roud 289; Laws L3)


Just the sort of fanciful, swashbuckling story which appealed hugely to country singers and to the broadside printers! (Roud gives 188 references.)

 Jane Gulliver (1862-1910)was a major song provider for the Hammonds (43 songs)and for Sharp (25 songs, 9 of them not previously noted by the Hammonds), and clearly loved songs like this one – particularly if the central character was a feisty young woman.  Jane was a former domestic worker, married to a railway maintenance workman by whom she had three children.  The Hammonds met her in April and May 1905; in his letter to Lucy Broadwood (mentioned above) Henry Hammond calls her a ‘wonderful woman’, and notes that she learned nearly all her songs from her mother, who learned them from her mother or from other old people. ‘Gulliver’, her surname as given by the Hammonds, is the form in which her name appears in all official documents  (censuses, marriage certificate etc.).   Sharp, who met her in 1908, gives her surname as ‘Gulliford’, a common local variant of the name.  Sadly, Jane died young less than two years after her meeting with Sharp.

Jane’s tune for this song is a version of the ubiquitous ‘Banks of Sweet Dundee’ tune.  She sang the chorus after every verse; here, so that the song does not last forever, Angela sings the chorus after only four of the eleven verses!


1.       ‘Twas of a lovely creature, in London she did dwell.

For wit and for beauty none could her excel.

Her master and mistress she serv-ed seven year,

And what followed after you quick-a-ly shall hear.

(CHORUS): With me right fol the day

Right fol the laddie sing, to me right fol the day.


2.       She put her box all on her head and so she trudged along.

The first that she met was a strong and able man.

He said, ‘My pretty fair maid, where are you going this way?

I will show you a nearer road across the count-e-ry.’


3.       He caught her hold by the hand, he led her down some lane.

He said, ‘My pretty fair maid, I mean to tell you plain.

Deliver up your money without a fear or strife

Or else this very moment I’ll take away your life.’


4.        Then tears from her eyes like fountains did flow,

Saying, ‘Where shall I wander, or where shall I go?’

And while this young fellow was feeling for his knife

O this beautiful young damsel she took away his life.  (CHORUS)


5.        She put her box all on her head and so she trudged along.

The next that she met was a noble gentleman.

He said, ‘My pretty fair maid, where are you going so late?

O what was the noise that I heard at yonder gate?


6.        That box all on your head to yourself does not belong.

To your mistress or master you have done something wrong.

To your mistress or master you have done something ill

For one moment for trem-a-ling you cannot stay still.’


7.        ‘This box all on my head to myself it do belong.

To my mistress or master I have done nothing wrong

To my mistress or my master I have done nothing ill,

But I fear in my heart that a young man I have killed.


8.        He demanded all my money but I soon let him know,

And whilst he feel-ed for his knife I proved his overthrow.’

She caught the horse by the reins and led him to the place

Where this noble young fellow lay a-bleeding on his face.  (CHORUS)


9.        The gentleman got off his horse to see what he had got.

He had three loaded pistols, some powder and some shot.

Three loaded pistols, some powder and some ball,

And now he found a whistle, more robbers for to call.


10.    He put the whistle to his mouth and blew both loud and shrill,

And four lusty robbers came tripping o’er the hill.

The gentleman shot one of them, and that right speedily,

And this beautiful young damsel she shot the other three.


11.   ‘ So now my pretty fair maid you have done nothing wrong.

I’ll make you my lawful bride, and that before too long.

I’ll make you my charming bride for the deed that you have done

For a-taking of your own part and a-firing of your gun.  (CHORUS)



4)  Quicksteps/King Street Festino    (Band) W


Two tunes from William Winter’s manuscript.  ‘Quicksteps’ actually appears three times there.  ‘King Street Festino’ was evidently copied by Winter from Bride’s ‘200 Select Country Dances, Cotillions, Allemands etc.’ (1775-6), as it is one of a number of tunes which appear in his manuscript in the same sequence as in Bride’s collection.



5)  I Wish I Had Never Seen No Man At All     Anna Reynolds; Jane Gulliver, Combe Florey; H (Roud 1452)


Another song noted by the Hammonds from Jane Gulliver in 1905.  Three years later she sang it to Cecil Sharp.  It very effectively uses a number of  standard ‘floating’ verses about unhappy love, set to a striking tune.  The song circulated on broadsides, but appears to have been collected aurally only from three Somerset singers – Jane, plus Sharp’s important informants Harry Richards and Emma Overd.

We have added verse 5 from a broadside version, as suggested by Frank Purslow when he published the song (under the title ‘The Darling Boy’) in ‘The Wanton Seed’ (EFDS Publications 1968).


1.       I wish I had never seen no man at all,

Since love’s been a grief and has proved my downfall,

Since love’s been a grief and a tyrant to me.

I lost my love fighting for sweet liberty.


2.       I wish I had never seen his curly hair,

Nor yet had I been in his company there,

With his red rosy cheeks and his rolling dark eye,

And his flattering tongue caused my poor heart to sigh.


3.       Some people come to me and thus they do say,

‘Your love he is listed and gone far away.’

But if ever he return I will crown him with joy,

And I’ll cross the sweet lips of my own darling boy.


4.       If I’d wings like a linnet O where would I fly?

I would fly to the arms of my dear darling boy,

Then in his soft bosom I’d build up my nest,

And I’d lay my head down on his soft snowy breast.


5.       Some say I’m with child but that I’ll deny.

Some say I’m with child but I’ll prove it a lie.

I’ll tarry a while and soon let them know

That he likes me too well to serve me so.


6.       O some do wear ‘spensions but I do wear none,

And they that don’t love me can leave me alone.

They can have me or leave me or else let me go,

For I don’t care a straw if they have me or no.


7.       (repeat verse 1)



6)  Love and Liberty (Sweet Swansea)     Geoff Woolfe; Mrs Murphy, Bathpool; M (Roud 1612)


        The songs which Phyllis Marshall collected near Taunton in 1916-17 are fairly small in number but of outstanding quality.  This lovely song is the only one she noted from Mrs Murphy of Bathpool, who told her that she had learned it from a Welsh girl in Cardiff.  It is a version of the song ‘Sweet Swansea’, very close in both words and tune to the celebrated version recorded by Fred Hamer from the wonderful singing of May Bradley of Ludlow (Musical Traditions MTCD 349 - May Bradley ‘Sweet Swansea’).  The only known versions are those from Mrs Murphy, May Bradley, and one which Cecil Sharp noted in 1907 from Caroline Passmore at Pitminster, Somerset.

NB. The Roud number given above is the number which should be assigned to this song in the Roud index.  However, at the time of writing the index actually assigns two incorrect numbers to it: 300, which belongs to the somewhat related song ‘Adieu to all Judges and Juries’, and 1077, which belongs to the ‘Gaol/Treadmill Song’ (Step in young man, I know your face).


1.       The first time I entered sweet Swansea,

It’s the truth unto you I’ll now tell,

I was taken and locked into prison

And put in a dark little cell.


2.        The cell was so dark and so lonely,

Not a light to be seen there at all,

Only one little door that was bolted

And a neat little hole in the wall.


3.        Next morning the warder came to me

With the key of the cell in his hand

To give me a cup of cold water

And with it a crust of dry bread.


4.        Bad luck to all judges and juries,

Won’t let a poor prisoner go free,

Every man to his love and creation,

But mine to my sweet liberty.


5.        I wish I had wings like a little angel,

I wish I had wings and could fly.

I’d fly to the arms of my true loved one

And there on her bosom I’d lie.

I’d lie, I’d lie,

And there on her bosom I’d lie.


7)  Sweet Jenny of the Moor    John Shaw; Amos Ash, Combe Florey; H (Roud 581; Laws N34)


        Amos Ash (1859-1940) sang for the Hammonds (13 songs) and for Sharp

 (6 songs).  Henry Hammond wrote that he had most of his good songs from his uncle, an old soldier.  In 1908 he was a neighbour, at Yard Farm cottages, Combe Florey, of Jane Gulliver.  They must have enjoyed some mighty song sessions together!  He sang this ‘broken token’ ballad both to the Hammonds and to Sharp.  John’s version here is based on the rather fuller set of words he gave to the Hammonds, amended here and there from broadside texts.  The song circulated widely on broadsides.  Evidently it has Irish origins, but seems to have been particularly popular with singers on the eastern seaboard of Canada and USA.

Frank Purslow published Amos Ash’s version in ‘The Foggy Dew’ (EFDS Publications 1974). There, in addition to Amos Ash’s grand Ionian mode tune (shown with note stems pointing upwards for the cadences at the mid and end points of the verse) Purslow gave his own presumed Irish original Aeolian mode version of the endings (with note stems pointing downwards).  This has had the curious result that most folk revival singers who have tackled the song ( notably Tony Rose) have sung the ‘reconstructed Irish’ version rather than what Amos Ash actually sang.  Here John sings the tune in the form that Mr Ash sang it.


1.       One morn for recreation I strayed down by the seaside.

The sun was gently rising, bedecked in all his pride.

I beheld a lovely maiden sitting at her cottage door,

With blooms in her cheeks – sweet Jenny of the moor.


2.       I stood in contemplation as I viewed the charming scene,

And filled with admiration as in some fairy dream,

Enchanted by that fair one as she walked along the shore,

A-gathering choice seaweed – sweet Jenny of the moor.


3.       I said, ‘My pretty charming creature, why so early do you rise?’

‘I love to breathe the morning air while the larks soar in the skies.

This spot is sweet to wander by, though the breakers often roar

And wake the bosom of the deep’, said sweet Jenny of the moor.


4.       We both sat down together by the pleasant shady side.

I said, ‘My dear, if you’ll consent I’ll make you my lawful bride.

I’ve plenty at my own command brought from a foreign shore,

And proud’s the man that wins the heart of sweet Jenny of the moor.’


5.       ‘I have a true love of my own, though long he’s been from me.

It’s true I’ll be unto him whilst he is on the sea.

His vows were fondly spoken as he parted from my door,

And I will wait for his return’, said sweet Jenny of the moor.


6.       ‘If your true love was a sailor, pray tell me now his name.’

‘His name is Dennis Reilly, from Newry town he came.

With laurels I’ll entwine him when he returns to shore.

We’ll join our hands in wedlock bands’, said sweet Jenny of the moor.


7.       ‘If Dennis was your true love’s name, I knew him very well.

Whilst fighting at Alma by an angry ball he fell.

Behold your true love token which upon his hand he wore.’

She fell and fainted in my arms – sweet Jenny of the moor.


8.       ‘Since you have proved so kind and true, look up my girl’, I cried,

For behold it is your Dennis now standing by your side.

Come let us be united and live happy on the shore.

The bells shall ring merrily and I’ll go to sea no more.’



8)  Brisk Young Widow    Olga Shotton; George Radford, Bridgwater workhouse; S (Roud 2438)


This is a song which appears to have been collected once and once only.  (The only time it was  published other than by Sharp was in a 1923 songbook from Pine Mountain Settlement School, Kentucky, and this almost certainly derives from the Radford/Sharp version.)

George Radford was 76 when Sharp met him in 1905 in Bridgwater workhouse.  Mr Radford told Sharp it was the only song he had learned from his father, who had been a fine singer.

‘Yowes’ (verse 3) is a dialect form of ‘ewes’.


1.       In Chester town there lived a brisk young widow.

For beauty and fine clothes none could excel her.

She was proper, stout and tall, her fingers long and small;

She’s a comely dame withal – that brisk young widow.


2.       A lover soon there came – a brisk young farmer.

With his hat turned up all round, he came to woo her.

My dear for love of you this wide world I’d go through.

If you will but prove true you shall wed a farmer.


3.       Says she, ‘I’m not for you, nor no such fellow.

I’m for a lively lad with land and riches.

‘Tis not your cows and yowes can maintain furbelows.

My silk and satin clothes are all my glory.’


4.       ‘O madam don’t be coy, for all your glory,

For the thought of another day and another story.

If the world on you should frown, your topknot must come down

To a linsey-woolsey gown.  Where’s then your glory?’


5.       At last there came that way a sooty collier.

With his hat turned down all round he soon did win her.

At that the farmer swore, ‘The widow’s mazed I’m sure,

And I’ll never court no more no brisk young widow.’



9)  The Bonny Bunch of Roses O    Jeff Blake; Captain Robert Lewis, Minehead; S (Roud 664; Laws J5)


Cecil Sharp collected 31 songs from Captain Robert Lewis (1835-1915) of Minehead over the course of nine visits between 1904 and 1909.  ‘The Bonny Bunch of Roses O’ circulated widely on broadsides, and has been sung by many traditional singers.  Sharp noted eleven versions in Somerset alone.  Some early broadside copies give the writer’s name as George Brown, who appears to have written several other broadside verses, including ‘The Grand Conversation on Napoleon’.  Like many songs about Napoleon, this one exhibits a degree of sympathy, admiration even, for the grandeur of his campaigns and ambitions, and their ultimate failure.  Its device of a dialogue between Napoleon’s widow, the Empress Marie- Louise, and their dying son, ‘young Bonaparte’, Napoleon II (1811-32), is a striking and powerful one.   The bonny bunch of roses is a symbol for the union of England, Ireland and Scotland.   Captain Lewis’s tune is a distinctive version of the usual English tune for this song.  Its final phrase is very similar to the ‘Wraggle Taggle Gypsies’ tune.

( Jeff has used some verses from other versions, and has rewritten the ending of the final verse as he was not satisfied that the original ending made a great deal of sense.)


1.       By the dangers of the ocean one morning in the month of June,

The feathery warbling songsters so sweetly of their notes did tune.

I overheard a damsel seemingly in grief and woe

Conversing with young Bonaparte concerning the bonny bunch of roses O.


2.       Then up spoke young Napoleon and grasped his mother by the hand,

‘Mother, I pray have patience till I am able to command,

And I’ll raise a fearsome army and through tremendous dangers go.

In spite of all the universe I’ll gain you the bonny bunch of roses O.’


3.        ‘O son, don’t be so venturesome, for England has the hearts of oak.

There’s England, Ireland and Scotland, their unity has never been broke.

O son look at your father – in St Helena his body lies low’

And you will follow after, so beware of the bonny bunch of roses O’.


4.        ‘Mother, when you saw great Bonaparte you fell down on your bended knee.

You asked your father’s life of him.  He granted it most manfully.

‘Twas then he took an army, and over foreign realms did go.

He said he’d conquer Moscow, then go to the bonny bunch of roses O.


5.        ‘Twas then he took an army, with kings and princes to join his throng.

He was so well provided, enough for to sweep the world along,

But when he come near Moscow, being overpowered with driven snow,

Then Moscow was a-blazing, so he lost the bonny bunch of roses O.


6.        O mother, dearest mother, it’s now I’m on my dying bed.

If I’d lived I’d have been clever, but now I droop my youthful head,

But while our bones do moulder and weeping willows overgrow,

Of the deeds of great Napoleon we’ll sing the bonny bunch of roses O.’



10) The Mail Coach/Bristol   (Band) W 

Two more tunes from William Winter’s manuscript.  He appears to have copied ‘The Mail Coach’, along with some other tunes, from Thompson ‘200 Country Dances’ Vol. 5 (1787).  A variant of ‘Bristol’ is known in Scotland as ‘Mrs Hill’s Delight’.



11) The Cuckoo    Harry Langston; Jane Gulliver, Combe Florey; H  (Roud 413)


        A very common song in the English speaking tradition, and one made up largely of floating verses.  Harry follows the verse order adopted by Frank Purslow in ‘The Wanton Seed’, with verses 5 and 6 augmented from a version collected by Alfred Williams in Gloucestershire.  ( Jane Gulliver actually began with our verse 2, and ended with our verse 1.) 


1.       The cuckoo is a fine bird, he sings as he flies.

He brings us good tidings and tells us no lies.

He sucks the sweet flowers for to make his voice clear,

And the more he cries cuckoo the summer draws near.


2.       ‘Twas walking and talking and walking was I,

For to meet my true lover, he’s coming by and by,

For to meet it’s a pleasure and to part it’s a grief,

And a false-hearted young man is worse than a thief.


3.       For a thief he will rob you of all that you have,

But a false-hearted lover will bring you to your grave,

For the grave it will rot you and turn you to dust,

And a false-hearted young man I’ll never more trust.


4.       O once I had a colour like the bud of a rose,

But now I’m so pale as the lily that grows:

A flower in the morning cut down in full bloom.

What do you think I’m coming to by the loving of one?


5.       Come all pretty maidens wherever you be.

Don’t trust in young soldiers in any degree.

They will kiss you and court you, poor girls to deceive.

There’s not one in twenty a maid can believe.


6.        They will laugh under their hat, love, as they see you pass by.

 They’ll bow with their body and wink with one eye.

 They will kiss you and court you and swear to be true

 But the very next moment they’ll bid you adieu.


12) The Crafty Maid’s Policy    Dave Byrne; Amos Ash, Combe Florey; S  (Roud 1624)


        This song circulated quite widely on broadsides, and has been collected a number of times from singers in England and Newfoundland.  Dave has augmented Amos Ash’s words from other versions.  The fine tune in the Mixolydian mode is just the sort of modal tune that the early collectors got very excited about.  (We get pretty excited about tunes like this ourselves!)


1.       Three pretty young maidens as they was a-walking,

They saw three fine gentlemen riding along.

Said one to the fair maid, ‘Where are you a-going?

I’m afraid this cold morning could do you some harm.’


2.       ‘O no, kind sir, you are sadly mistaken

If you think this cold morning will do me some harm.

There’s one thing I crave – it’s between your two legs, sir,

And if you give me that I can keep myself warm.’


3.       Then off of his horse he so quickly dismounted

And quickly she threw her own two legs across,

Saying, ‘You knew not my meaning.  You misunderstood me’,

And away she went galloping over the plain.


4.       ‘O kind companions, lend me one of your horses,

That I may go and fetch my own horse back again,

And if I overtake her, I’ll warrant I’ll make her

Return unto me my own horse back again.’


5.       As quick as this fair maid she saw him a-coming,

She instantly took-ed her pistol in hand.

‘Now, now, try your skill, and I’ll warrant I’ll fulfil,

And I’ll have you stand back, or you are a dead man.


6.       O no, kind sir, you are sadly mistaken

That you own this horse and my own game,

For both of these gentlemen witness you gave me’,

And away she went galloping over the plain.



13)  Georgie (Geordie)    Olga Shotton; Sergeant James Fudge, East Combe; H  (Child 209;

 Roud 90)


        James Fudge (c1832-1915) sang this fine version of the ballad to the Hammonds.  They noted no other songs from him.  Three years later he sang it for Sharp, who noted only the tune.  The Hammonds thought he sang it ‘with a slight Irish flavour’, with its mention of Kilkenny, and Mr Fudge’s pronunciation of ‘easy’ as ‘asy’ in v. 5.  ‘Sowled’ in v. 6 is a Somerset dialect word meaning ‘hauled’ or ‘dragged’.


1.       As I was going over London Bridge,

‘Twas in the morning early,

O there I spied a lady gay

Lamenting for her Georgie.


2.       Come saddle me my milk-white steed.

Come saddle me my pony,

That I might ride to some fair lord judge

And beg for the life of Georgie.


3.       O when she came to the town ‘size hall

There was lords and ladies many.

She pitched all down on her bended knee,

Saying, ‘Spare me the life of Georgie’.


4.       George ha’nt stole ox nor he haven’t stole calves.

George ha’nt stole ox nor any,

But he’ve stole six of the king’s fat deer

And sold them in Kilkenny.


5.        The judge looked over his left shoulder.

‘Dear lady do be easy,

For George have confessed, and die he must.

May the Lord have mercy on Georgie.’


6.        George shall be hung in golden chains,

Where there is sowled a many,

And George is one of the royal blood.

He courted a virtuous lady.


7.        I wish I was back in my father’s groves

Where kisses I’ve had many,

With my own true love all by my side

I’ll die for the life of Georgie.



     14)  Rosabella    Alan Prewett; John Short (“Yankee Jack”), Watchet; S  (Roud 13252)


                John Short (1839-1933) sang to Cecil Sharp on several occasions in 1914, and was his major  sea shanty informant.  He had gone to sea in the mid nineteenth century, and earned his nickname of ‘Yankee Jack’ because he had worked on the American ship, the ‘Levant’ .  He sang only two verses of  ‘Rosabella’ to Sharp.  In 1978 Tom and Barbara Brown created a fuller version of the song by using Short’s first verse as a chorus, and adding other appropriate shanty floating verses.  The hugely singable result became a folk revival favourite, particularly after being taken up by Johnny Collins and Jim Mageean.

 (In 2011-12 Tom and Barbara coordinated a superb 3-volume CD series in which they and an outstanding crew of singers perform all of Yankee Jack’s repertoire as noted by Sharp: the ‘Short Sharp Shanties’ project – WildGoose WGS 381-2 and 388.  The version of ‘Rosabella’ on the third of these CDs includes some ‘new’ lyrics based upon related songs which have come to their attention more recently.)

Our version is based upon Tom and Barbara’s 1978 creation, but Alan has taken the liberty of mentioning our ‘spiritual home’ of Hotwells in one verse.  Also, at the end of his verse 1 John Short sang ‘saucy Rosabella’.  Thanks to a bit of misinformation on the internet we were led to believe for a while that the correct words were ‘salt-sea Rosabella’ – which seemed to fit, as the song expresses pride in being a deep-sea, rather than coastal, sailor.  When we discovered our mistake, we decided we liked the ‘salt-sea’ version, so we’ve stuck with it.


1.        One Monday morning in the month of May (x2)

I thought I heard the old man say,

‘The Rosabella will sail today.’


(CHORUS): And I’m going on board the Rosabella,

I’m going on board the Rosabella,

I’m going on board, right down to board

The salt-sea Rosabella.


2.        She’s a deep water ship with a deep water crew. (x2)

You can stick to the coast but I’m damned if we do

On board the Rosabella.  (CHORUS)


3.        All around Cape Horn in the month of May, (x2)

Around Cape Horn it’s a long, long way

On board the Rosabella.  (CHORUS)


4.        Well them Hotwells girls they do make I grieve.

Them Hotwells girls they do make I grieve.

They spend my money and they make me leave

On board the Rosabella.  (CHORUS)


5.        (repeat v. 1 & CHORUS) 


CD 2


1)      Crowcombe Wassail    All; Charles Ash, Crowcombe; S  (Roud 209)


Wassail customs abounded in English country villages.  Some persist, particularly in the West Country, and many more have started up in recent years, in imitation of these traditional survivals.  In 1908 Charles Ash. 1851-1927) sang Cecil Sharp a fine wassail song at Crowcombe.  (He seems not to have been an immediate relative of Amos Ash.)

  Arguably we should have called this one ‘Bagborough Wassail’, as Mr Ash grew up in Bagborough and is likely to have learned the song there.


(CHORUS): Wassail, wassail all over the town

Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown.


1.        Down in the lane there sits an old fox,

A-starving and licking his dirty old chops.


2.        Shall we go catch him my boys, if we can?

Ten thousand to one if we catch him or none.


3.        Catch him or none, catch him or none,

Ten thousand to one if we catch him or none.  (CHORUS)


4.        The great dog of Langport has burnt of his tail,

And this is the night we go singing wassail.


5.        I will go home to old mother Joan

And tell her to put on the big marrow bone.


6.        Boil it and boil it and shim off the scum,

And we will have porridge when we do go home.  (CHORUS x2)



2)      The Conscript’s Departure (Jeannette and Jeannot)    John Shaw; W  (Roud 391)


This was a popular song published in the early 1840s, with words by Charles Jeffries and music by Charles Glover.  It was republished on broadsides and in songsters, and entered oral tradition, with versions collected from traditional singers in England, Scotland and America.  William Winter wrote the music into his manuscript book only a few years after the song was first published, yet the tune as he wrote it down had already undergone considerable modification from the original, presumably the result of oral/aural transmission.  There are a number of song tunes in Winter’s collection, but this one is unique in having the words glued into the book from a newspaper cutting.

The song’s popularity led to an ‘answer’ song (also the work of Jeffries and Glover) – ‘The Conscript’s Reply’.  This too is in the Winter book (without words).  The tune is the same as ‘The Conscript’s Departure’ in his ms., but in a different key.  Both songs are included in the repertoire list of Henry Burstow of Horsham (in his ‘Reminiscences of Horsham’ 1911).


1.        You are going far away, far away from poor Jeanette.

There’s no one left to love me now, and you too may forget,

But my heart will still be with you wherever you may go.

Could you look me in the face and say the same, Jeannot?

When you wear the jacket red and the beautiful cockade

I fear you will forget all the promises you made.

With your gun upon your shoulder and a bayonet by your side

You’ll be taking some proud lady and be making her your bride.

You’ll be taking some proud lady and be making her your bride.


2.        And when glory leads the way you’ll be madly rushing on,

Never thinking if they kill you that my happiness is gone,

But should you win the day perhaps a general you’ll be.

Though I’m proud to think of that, what will become of me?

O were I queen of France or, what’s better, Pope of Rome,

There’d be no fighting men abroad, no weeping maids at home.

All the world should be at peace, or should kings assert their right,

I’d have those that made the quarrel be the only men to fight.

I’d have those that made the quarrel be the only men to fight.



3)      In Cambridge Town (Floating Down the Tide)    Anna Reynolds; Mrs Tremlett, Bagborough; S  (Roud 1414)


In September  1908 Mrs Tremlett sang Cecil Sharp three songs, including a version of the ‘Wassail Song’ which Charles Ash sang (Track 1 above) and this one about the suicide of a pregnant girl.  Sharp noted other versions from two of his finest Somerset women singers, Emma Overd and Susan Williams.  Other collectors encountered it in England, Ireland and Scotland.  Rather surprisingly no broadside versions are known. 

 Some singers (though not Mrs Tremlett) understandably blended elements of this song with elements of the much more common murder ballad ‘The Oxford Girl’ (Roud 263; Laws P35), which did circulate widely on broadsides.


1.        In Cambridge town there lived a lass,

Beautiful and gay.

A young man came a-courting her.

Poor girl he did betray.


2.       The girl being young and foolish

She fixed her mind on me.

This girl being young and foolish

She proved in child by me.


3.        You had better go home to your father’s house

And do the best you can.

Tell him you’ve been slighted

By a false young man.


4.        I’ll not go home to my father’s house

Myself for to disgrace;

I’d sooner go and drown myself

Down in a lonesome place.


5.        As William was a-walking

Down by some riverside,

He saw his lovely Nancy

Come rolling down the tide.


6.        And pulling off his small clothes

And swimming up the stream,

He caught his lovely Nancy

All by the lily-white hand.


7.        And when he found it was Nancy,

Poor Nancy was dead and gone,

Saying, ‘The Lord have mercy on my soul -

I’ve been a false young man.



4)      Adieu to Old England    Jeff Blake; Charles Ash, Crowcombe; S (Roud 1703)


Another song from the fine repertoire of 22 songs which Cecil Sharp noted from Charles Ash in 1908.  It is a distinctive version of a song which was widely sung, particularly in the south and south-west of England.  Surprisingly it seems not to have achieved wide circulation on broadsides.  The word ‘stirrup’ may be from ‘staripen’ – a Romany word for prison.  (cf. the English slang, ‘stir’.)

  Presumably the singer bids adieu to old England because he is about to be transported as a convict.  Curiously there is no hint of transportation in the song after the first line – only a description of imprisonment and impoverishment.


       CHORUS: Here’s adieu to Old England adieu

                        And adieu to some hundreds of pounds.

                          If the world had been ended before I was born

                          My sorrows I never should know.


1.        Once I could ride in my coach

With horses to draw me along,

But now I am stirrup and stirrup so strong,

In irons and chains I am bound.      CHORUS


2.        Once I could eat of the best,

Good bread made with good wheat,

But now I am glad of a hard mouldy crust

And glad for to get it to eat.      CHORUS


3.        Once I could drink of the best,

Bestest of ale so brown,

But now I am glad of a cup of spring water

That runneth from town to town.      CHORUS


4.        Once I could lie on my bed.

My bed was the softest of down,

But now I am glad of a lock of chair straw

To keep me up from the cold ground.      CHORUS



5)      I’ll Pull Off my Hat and Feathers  (The Female Drummer)    Angela Shaw; Jane Gulliver, Combe Florey; H (Roud 226)


A very popular song, circulating widely on broadsides and among traditional singers all over Britain and, rather less commonly, on the eastern seaboard of North America. ( The Roud index gives 116 citations.)  A considerable variety of jaunty tunes and a lively refrain must have boosted its popularity greatly.  Jane Gulliver’s tune is a variant of the dance tune ‘Castles in the Air’.  Her title and ‘punchline’ constitute an interesting personal take on the song.  The usual phrase is something like ‘I’ll put on my hat and feathers and I’ll beat the drum again’ (ie. I’ll put on my soldier’s uniform and re-enlist); Jane, however, sings ‘I’ll pull off my hat and feathers’ (ie. I’ll take off my feathered lady’s hat and put on my soldier’s uniform again and re-enlist).


1.       When I was a young girl at the age of sixteen

From my parents I ran away – I tried to serve the queen.

I listed in the army just as a private man,

And very soon they learned me how to beat upon a drum.

(REFRAIN:) How to beat upon a drum, how to beat upon a drum,

                     Very soon they learned me how to beat upon a drum.


2.        My waist being long and slender, my fingers long and small,

My captain fell in love with me and I succeeded all.

I marched the field of battle with a broadsword in my hand

To hear the cannons rattle and the music all so grand.

(REFRAIN:) And the music all so grand….etc.


3.        The first night in my quarters,a- going to my bed,

For sleeping by a soldier’s side I never felt afraid.

In taking off my redcoat to myself I’d often smile

To think myself a soldier yet a maid all the while.    (REFRAIN)


4.        The next night in my quarters in going to my tower,

There I might have been this day until this very hour,

But a young girl fell in love with me – I told her I were a maid,

And straightway to my officer my secret she betrayed.    (REFRAIN)


5.        My officer he sent for me to know if this was true.

With a gun all on my shoulder I marched the barracks through.

Stepping to his parlour, he smiled to me and said,

‘It’s a pity I must part with such a soldier as you’ve made.    (REFRAIN)


6.        Now farewell to my officer and to my com-e-rades,

And since you’ve been so kind to me I hope we’ll meet again,

And if the queen should be in want of any private man

I’ll pull off my hat and feathers and I’ll beat the drum again.    (REFRAIN)



6)      As Johnny was Walking  (Searching for Young Lambs)    John Shaw; Jane Gulliver, Combe Florey; H (Roud 1437; Laws O9)


This straightforward, gentle song about an encounter between lovers in the countryside was popular among English singers.  It is descended from a song composed in the mid-eighteenth century to be sung in the fashionable urban pleasure gardens, but does not seem to have circulated on nineteenth century broadsides.  Jane Gulliver’s repertoire included a high proportion of songs about lovers’ rural trysts such as this, sometimes with unhappy consequences (eg. unwanted pregnancy, or abandonment of the girl), or with a happy outcome, as here.

In verse 1, ‘long and wishing eye’ is a corruption of the song’s original words ‘languishing eye’.  We agree enthusiastically with Frank Purslow’s comment in ‘The Foggy Dew’ that ‘I somehow feel that the corruption is descriptively almost more apt than the original’ – so enthusiastically in fact that we would have left out his word ‘almost’!


1.       As Johnny was walking one midsummer morn,

O there he did rest himself all underneath a thorn.

A beautiful damsel she chanced to pass him by,

And there he did cast on her his long and wishing eye.

(REFRAIN:) O his long and wishing eye, O his long and wishing eye,

                     O there he did cast on her his long and wishing eye.


2.        ‘O have you seen the ewe with her two pretty lambs,

Strayed away from their comrades, strayed away from their dams?’

‘O yes, my pretty maid, I saw them just pass by.

They are down in yonder valley, and that is very nigh.’

(REFRAIN:) And that is very nigh, and that is very nigh….(etc.)


3.        She searched the valley over – no lamb could she find,

Her Johnny, lovely Johnny so often in her mind.

She turned herself quite curiously and smiling with a blush,

And there she saw her Johnny all hiding in a bush.    (REFRAIN)


4.        O then the words of love they began to overflow.

He took her down those meadows, those meadows down below,

And while his arms was round her, her charms to review,

O the lambs played all around them all in the morning dew.    (REFRAIN)


5.        So now to conclude and to finish up my song:

This is the happiest couple, and the highest in the throng.

So now we are got married, happy in wedlock’s bands,

No more to go a-roving in searching of young lambs.    (REFRAIN)



7)      London Town (The Hostess’s Daughter/I Sowed Some Seed)    Geoff Woolfe; Elizabeth Nation (aka Mrs Fred Nation), Bathpool; M (Roud 914)


Phyllis Marshall’s ‘star’ singer, from whom she noted 14 songs, was a woman she calls ’Mrs Fred Nation’, of Baytree Cottage, Bathpool.  Census records suggest that her name was Elizabeth Nation, who was in her early to middle 50s when she sang for Miss Marshall.

  This is a fairly well known song today in the folk revival, but it has been collected only a handful of times from traditional singers – and only from singers in Somerset, Dorset and Devon.  Words and tune vary little from version to version; the tunes generally tend towards 5/4 time, though Mrs Nation’s rhythm is more irregular.  Jane Gulliver sang a fairly similar version.


1.        When first to London town I came,

I being a stranger, I knew no-one.

I took my lodgings up to some inn,

But being a stranger, I fell in danger –

I knew no-one, I knew no-one.


2.        The landlord he had a daughter dear.

She was a beauty, I do declare.

She’d two black eyes though she was young,

And the more I kissed her, her eyes did glitter

Just like the rising of the sun.


3.        But I sowed my seed in yonder grove.

It grew apace and well it proved,

But for to reap it I dare not stay,

For being a stranger, I fell in danger –

I ran away, I ran away.


4.        Now this fair maid she is undone.

She’s got no father for her son,

But she must keep it – it is her own,

And reap the seed, and reap the seed,

And reap the seed that I have sown.



8)      Cold Blows the Wind  (The Unquiet Grave)    Olga Shotton; William Poole (of Lydeard), at Taunton Almshouses; H (Child 78; Roud 51)


The Hammonds noted  7 songs from William Poole (aged 80), including the tune only of this ballad, so to his tune Olga has set words taken from other versions.  This song was sung quite widely in England, and was also known in Scotland and America.   Compared to most ballads it does not tell much of a story, but presents a simple, moving scenario to make its point that too much, or over-long, mourning disturbs the repose of the dead.  The opening phrase of Mr Poole’s tune bears a strong similarity to the ‘Noah’s Ark Shanty’, as sung to Sharp by Captain Hole of Watchet.


1.        Cold blows the wind o’er my true love

And a few small drops of rain.

I never had but one true love

And in greenwood he lies slain  (X2)


2.        I’ll do as much for my true love

As any young girl may.

I’ll sit and weep all on his grave

For a twelvemonth and a day.


3.        But when twelve months were past and gone

The young man he arose.

‘What makes you weep all on my grave?

I can’t take my repose.


4.        What is it that you want of me?

Of me what do you crave?’

‘One kiss, one kiss of your lily-white lips,

Then I’ll go from your grave.’


5.       ‘My lips they are as cold as clay;

My breath is heavy and strong.

If thou was to kiss my lily-white lips

Thy days would not be long.’


6.        ‘My time be long, my time be short,

Tomorrow or today,

Sweet Christ in heaven shall have my soul

And take my life away.’


7.        ‘Don’t grieve, don’t grieve for me, dear love:

No mourning do I crave.

I must leave you and all the world,

And sink down in my grave.’



9)      Bagborough Waltz/William Winter’s Waltz  (Band)  W (NB. We have given the tunes these titles.  In the Winter ms. both are called simply ‘Waltz’.  We have not come across any other versions of these two delicious tunes.)



10)   Come All You Worthy Christians    Jeff Blake; Charles Ash, Crowcombe; S (Roud 815)


  The early collectors noted this song quite a number of times, under a variety of titles.  Singers sometimes called it ‘Job’ or ‘Old Job’. Nineteenth century broadside versions circulated, under a variety of titles: ‘One God has made us all’, ‘Poverty and Contentment’ and ‘Job the Patient Man’.   Jeff has taken some of the words he sings from a version noted by Vaughan Williams in Sussex.  Charles Ash actually sang the opening phrase as ‘Come all you worthy people’, which Jeff has changed to agree with the usual title and with the opening line of verse 3.  Sharp also collected a version from Eliza Woodberry (of Ash Priors), whose picture appears on our CD front cover.


1.        Come all you worthy Christians that dwells within this land,

That spends your time in rioting – remember you are but man.

Be watchful for your latter end - remember when you’re called:

There’s many changes in this world – some rise when others fall.


2.        Now Job he was a patient man – the richest in the East.

When he was brought to poverty his sorrows did increase.

He bore them all most patiently; from sin he did refrain;

He always trusted in the Lord and soon got rich again.


3.        Come all you worthy Christians that are so very poor.

Remember how poor Lazarus lay at the rich man’s door,

While begging for the crumbs of bread that from his table fell.

The scriptures do inform us that in heaven he doth dwell.


4.        The time alas it soon will come when we must parted be,

But all the difference it will make is in joy and misery,

And we must give a strict account of great as well as small.

I tell you now, dear Christian friends, that God will judge us all.




11)   O if I was but a Butterfly    Angela Shaw; Elizabeth Nation, Bathpool; M (Roud 308)


Like ‘The Cuckoo’, this lyric song has a satisfying coherence about it despite being largely a collection of floating verses.  It is most commonly found under the title ‘The Irish Girl’, which takes its title from a phrase which does not occur in Mrs Nation’s version.  Angela has omitted Mrs Nation’s second verse, which seemed to fit less happily with the other verses.

  (An excellent variant of this song , sung by Sarah Makem, has recently been issued on her ‘As I Roved Out’ 3-CD set (Musical Traditions MTCD353-5).  She called it ‘I Wish My Love was a Red Red Rose’ – the opening words of her first verse, which is the equivalent of the verse Angela has omitted here.)


1.        O if I was but a butterfly, I’d fly to my love’s breast,

Or if I was but a linnet I’d sing my love to rest,

Or if I was but a nightingale I would sing till morning clear.

I’d sit and sing to my true love – he’s the one I love so dear.


2.        O when I went to see my love ‘twas in the month of June.

The thrush sang so melodious, the rose was in full bloom.

He said, ‘I’m going home, I am going home, I am going home’, said he.

‘How can you a-roving go, and leave your dear Polly?’


3.        ‘I wish I were in Dublin town, a-seated on the grass,

With a bottle of whisky in my hand, and on my knee a lass.

I would call for liquors merrily; I would pay before I go.

I’d rant and roar all on the shore, let the winds blow high or low.’


4.        The very last time I saw my love he was sick and very bad,

And the only favour he asked of me was to tie up his head.

O there’s many a man that is worse than he, and perhaps ‘twill mend again,

For love it is a killing thing – did you ever feel the pain?



12)   The Bold Princess Royal    Harry Langston; Captain James Vickery (tune and verse 1); Captain Robert Lewis (rest of words), both Minehead; S (Roud 528; Laws K29)


Between 1904 and 1907 Sharp noted 9 (mostly seafaring) songs from Captain James Vickery (1842-1916).  He noted only the first verse, so the rest of the words here come from the very full version noted from Captain Lewis.  ( Line 3 of verse 7 was missing in Captain Lewis’s version, so Harry has supplied a line of his own.)  ‘The Bold Princess Royal’ circulated on nineteenth century broadsides, and was well known to traditional singers in Britain and America.  A variety of different tunes are associated with the song, of which Captain Vickery’s is one of the most stirring.


1.        On the fourteenth of April we set sail from the Downs

In the bold Princess Royal bound to Newfoundland.

We had forty bold seamen to our ship’s company,

And boldly from the east to the westward sailed we.


2.        We had not been sailing many days but two or three,

When a man at our masthead a sail he did spy

Come bearing down on us to see what we were,

While under her mizzen peak black colours she wore.


3.        ‘Good Lord!’ said our captain, ‘what shall we do now?

Here comes a bold pirate to rob us, I know.’

‘O no!’ cried our chief mate,’ that never can be so,

For we’ll shake out our reefs, boys, and from her we’ll go.’


4.        So then this bold pirate he came alongside.

With a loud-speaking trumpet, ‘Whence came you?’, he cried.

Our captain being aloft, he answered him so,

‘We come from fair London, bound to Callio.’


5.        ‘Then haul up your courses and heel your ship to,

For I have some letters I’ll send home by you.’

‘Yes, I’ll haul up my courses and heave my ship to.

It shall be in some harbour, not alongside of you.’


6.        ‘Now lads, hoist up your topsails, topgallants also,

Your staysails and royals, and from her we’ll go.’

O he fired some shots after us, but of no avail,

For the bold Princess Royal she showed him her tail.


7.        Then he chased to windward, he chased us all day

He chased us to windward until the next day.

Though he curs-ed us roundly, we kept him at bay,

Then he hauled up his courses and from us bore away.


8.        ‘Thank God,’ cried our captain, ‘since the pirate is gone,

Go down to your grog, boys, go down everyone.

Go down to your grog boys and be of good cheer,

For as long as we’ve sail room, my lads, never fear.’


9.        On the fourteenth of April we set sail from the Downs

In the bold Princess Royal bound to Newfoundland.



13)   One Night as I Lay on my Bed    Anna Reynolds; Elizabeth Nation, Bathpool; M (Roud 672)


  This beautiful song, with its spectacular tune, has been collected only a few times from traditional singers, but Marina Russell’s Dorset version is fairly well known to folk revivalists thanks to its inclusion in R Vaughan Williams and A L Lloyd’s ‘Penguin Book of English Folk Songs’ (1959).  The second line of the penultimate verse is missing in the Blunt ms., so I have added a line of my own.


1.       One night as I lay on my bed,

I dreamed about a fair pretty maid.

I was so oppressed, I could find no rest,

Love did torment me so,

And away to my love’s house I did go.


2.       And when to my love’s house I did come,

I called her sweet Nancy by her name.

‘It’s for your sweet sake, love, I did come here,

So bitter lie frost and snow,

So it’s open the door, my love, do.’


3.       ‘O no, I cannot open the door.

My old father will hear me, I’m sure.

I shall be abused, I shall have no excuse,

And many a bitter blow,

So it’s go from the door, my love do.’


4.       And when my love open-ed the door

She looked like some angel standing before,

With her eyes shine bright and the stars gave light,

No diamond ring shone so,

And away with my love I did go.


5.       To the green bed I and my love did go,

There we stayed till morning-o.

What we did there I will never declare.

No mortal man shall know,

Not as long as I this breath can draw.


6.       But as my love was coming down the stair,

Her old father he chanc-ed for to hear,

And he cried out with a loud ‘Who’s there?

Whose shoes are rattling so?’

And it’s ‘Hark father, how the winds do blow.’



14)   The Bonny Lighter Boy    Dave Byrne; Joseph Laver, Bridgwater; S (Roud 843)


Joseph Laver (b.1837) sang 15 songs for Cecil Sharp, who must have been very taken with this one, as he published it several times.  Versions have turned up in Scotland and Nova Scotia, although they often concern a ploughman rather than a sailor.  (A lighter is a small, often flat-bottomed boat which is used to transfer goods from large vessels to the wharves or to other ships.)  Joseph Laver’s final verse was incomplete, so Dave has filled the gaps with some appropriate lines from ‘The Bonny Labouring Boy’, a song with a similar scenario.


1.       Well it’s of a brisk young sailor lad, and he apprentice bound,

And she a rich merchant’s daughter with fifty thousand pound.

They loved each other dearly in sorrow, grief and joy.

Let him go where he will, he’s my love still – he’s my bonny lighter boy.


2.       ‘Twas in her father’s garden beneath the willow tree,

I took her in my arms and I used her gent-l-y.

Down on the ground we both sat down until some length of joy.

Let him do what he will, he’s my love still – he’s my bonny lighter boy.


3.       Now her father he being near her, he heard what she did say.

He says, ‘Unruly daughter, I’ll send him far away.

On board a ship I will him send – I’ll rob you of your joy.’

‘Send him where you will, he’s my love still – he’s my bonny lighter boy.’


4.       For his cheeks  are like the roses, his eyes as black as sloes.

He’s mild in his behaviour wherever my love goes.

He’s bonny, neat and handsome, his skin as white as snow.

Let him go where he will, he’s my love still – he’s my bonny lighter boy.



15)   Oh! Madam I Will Give to Thee    Angela & John Shaw & Jeff Blake; Jane Gulliver, Combe Florey; H (Roud 573)


This singing game has been widely sung in many different forms, particularly in England and America.  It usually presents a courting dialogue between a man and woman, but Jane Gulliver’s version is unusual in including a third character, ‘man Jan’ – the young man’s servant, who encourages him to persevere in trying to win the lady.  The song very possibly has its origins on the stage.  Jane’s version seems conceived as an entertainment.  Henry Hammond writes in his ms. notes: ‘Mrs Gulliver tells me that at intervals throughout the song, dancing (to the polka step) used to take place.’  We have shortened the song for this recording by reducing the number of appeals to ‘man Jan’, and by omitting a sequence in which the man offers the lady ‘a little greyhound’.  (We reinstate the dog when we perform this live, as we enjoy acting it out and hamming it up!)


1.       ‘Oh Madam I will give to thee a new silken gown

With five and thirty flounces a-bobbing to the ground

If you will be my bride, my joy and my dear,

If you’ll go a walking with me anywhere.’


2.       ‘No indeed I won’t accept from you a new silken gown

With five and thirty flounces a-bobbing to the ground,

And I’ll not be your bride, your joy nor your dear,

And I’ll not go a walking with you anywhere.’


3.       ‘O man Jan, what can the matter be?

You see I love this lady but she won’t love me.

She won’t be my love, nor my joy nor my dear,

 She won’t go a-walking with me anywhere.’


4.       ‘O you court her master, you court her, never fear,

For she will be your love and your joy and your dear.

Yes, she will be your love and your joy and your dear,

And she will go a-walking with you anywhere.’


5.       ‘Oh Madam I will give to thee a little set of bells

For to call up your servants when you’re not very well,

If you will be my love, my joy and my dear,

If you’ll go a-walking with me anywhere.’


6.       ‘No indeed I won’t accept from you a little set of bells

For to call up my servants when I’m not very well,

And I’ll not be your love’ etc.


7.       ‘Oh Madam I will give to thee a cushion full of pins

For to pin up the baby’s white musselins,

If you will be my love’ etc.


8.       ‘No indeed I won’t accept from you a cushion full of pins

For to pin up some baby’s white musselins,

And I’ll not be your love’ etc.


9.       ‘O man Jan, what can the matter be?’ etc.


10.   ‘O you court her, master’ etc.


11.   ‘Oh madam I will give to thee the keys of my heart,

To lock it up together, and nevermore depart,

 If you’ etc.


12.   ‘O yes I will accept from you the keys to your heart.

I’ll lock it up for ever and  nevermore depart,

And if you’ll be my love, my joy and my dear,

O I’ll go a-walking with you anywhere.’


                                                                                                JOHN SHAW