The Merchant's Daughter and the Highwayman

 

It’s of an old merchant’s fair daughter,

And she to the market did go,

And thinking that no one would harm her,

Oft times she had been to and fro.

 

The first that she met was an old highwayman,

He gave her a terrible blow,

'The girl you may patiently take it,

For I mean to have money or clothes.’

 

He stripped this poor girl stark naked,

And gave her his horse for to hold,

And while she stood shivering and shaking,

These words then to herself were then told.

 

She whipped her foot into the stirrup,

And she mounted the saddle like a man,

And she galloped over hills and high mountains,

Saying, 'Catch me, kind sir, if you can.'

 

The old highwayman he scampered,

He ran and he puffed and he blew,

He ran but he could not overtake her,

For his boots they did hamper him so.

 

She led him through plains and through valleys,

The paths that she knew very well,

She left him a parcel of farthings,

A sum worth five shillings to tell.

 

She rode ‘tiI she came to her father's own house,

Quite seven or eight by the clock,

What did surprise her poor old father,

Was to see her ride home in her smock.

 

'Dear daughter where have you been tarrying,

Where have you been tarrying so long?'

'Dear father I have been robb-ed,

But I have not received any harm.'

 

They whipped the horse into the stable,

They searched that poor mantle all around,

And there they found as much silver and gold,

Which amounted to three thousand pound.

 

'Three thousand pound is a good fortune,

Dear daughter I'll give you two more,

Saying five thousand is a good fortune,

For to keep the wild wolf from your door.'

 

And now she's a lady of honour,

And she in her carriage does ride,

And servants for to wait upon her,

And a footman to ride by her side,

And servants for to wait upon her,

And a footman to ride by her side.

 

Harry did much of his singing locally in the Rising Sun at Duton Hill which is the next parish to Tilty. It was there he learned 'The Merchant's Daughter' from another regular, Bill Patent. The song is often called 'The Highwayman Outwitted', 'The Crafty Ploughboy' or 'The Farmer from Cheshire' (or some times Leicester or Sheffield). It was widely published by nineteenth century broadside printers including Such and Pitts (London), Pratt (Birmingham) and Hoggett (Durham). Ralph Vaughan Williams noted down the song in Ingrave, Essex from Emma Turner in 1903 and other recordings from East Anglian singers include Charlie Stringer on VTC2CD 'Songs Sung in Suffolk' and Alex Bloomfield on VT140CD 'Good Order Traditional singing and music from the Eel's Foot'.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pear Tree

 

Now ladies and gentlemen I’ve done a lot of schools around the country to speak to the tourists. I’ll tell you some lies and some truths as well as the next one.

 

Well there was once a pear tree planted in America, and this tree grew a mile every year and it was ten thousand mile high. And that grew a pear every year and there were ten thousand pears on that tree.

 

Well there was once a man ventured the whole life that he would take off the pears off that tree. He had eighteen feather beds at the bottom of the tree on occasion he might fall.

 

And as he was reaching up a pear, away down he fell. He fell eighteen thousand miles onto the feather beds and he fell eighteen thousand mile through the feather beds and that took eighteen thousand navigators to dig eighteen thousand miles to find this man and when they found this man he had on the brim of his billycock enough stones and gravel to build eighteen thousand parish churches.

 

“Now” he said, “I told you from the beginning (to pop it down?) as whopping good lie.”

“Now” he said, “I’ll tell you the truth and an explanation.”

 

What is higher than a tree? What is deeper than the sea?

What is louder than any horn? What is sharper than any thorn?

 

For the sky is higher than that tree! Hell is deeper than the sea!

Thunder is louder than any horn! But hunger is sharper than any thorn!

 

All this world is a difficult table which now all round we all do sit.

We all do as well as we are able and we scramble for the most and the best we can get.

Here’s success to the pepper boxes every man can carry in his pocket.

One shilling of his own, when in need of it, is worth two of other peoples.

 

Here’s a wishing to them to have more fat pigs and less fat parsons.

Then there’ll be more pork for poor people and sudden death to the devil.

Damn that man who marries that widow and gets that (bridge?) up again.

 

Many traditional singers had amusing memory-testing recitations in their repertoire, and this one (being the only example given in the Roud database) defies further indentification. The mention of navigators in the first part could date the piece in the mid-1800s, while the central part has riddles which are similar to those in 'Riddle Wisely Expounded' (Child Ballad no.1) and 'Captain Wedderburn's Courtship (Child Ballad no.46) which could also indicate a similar antiquity.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Sweethearts

 

A group of young soldiers one night in the camp,

Were talking of sweet hearts they’d had,

They all looked so happy except young one lad,

Who looked so downhearted and sad.

 

“Come lad, won’t you join us my comrade,” they cried,

“I’m sure that someone loves you.”

The lad raised his head and proudly he said,

“Dear comrades, I’m loved by two.”

 

Chorus:

One has hair of silvery grey while the other has hair like gold,

One’s so young and beautiful, the other is bent and old,

How dear are those lives of them both to me, from them I never can part,

For one is my mother, God bless her I love her,

And the other is my sweetheart.

 

My sweetheart she’s only a plain working girl,

A girl I’m determined to wed,

My father said, “No, that won’t never do,

You must marry a heiress instead.”

 

I talked mother over, she knows how things are,

When father met her she was poor,

Said, “Boy never fret she’ll be your bride yet,

With father’s consent I am sure.”

(Chorus)

 

Often known as 'A Group of Young Squaddies', this was reportedly written and sung by English music hall singer Lester Barrett in 1892, being published by Francis, Day and Hunter whom he worked. In 1897 the song was published in America with composers cited as E.P Moran (words) and J. Fred Heff (music). The song became popular in America and several old time musicians recorded it during the 1920s and 30s, including Roy Harvey and the Carter Family. The song became popular with English traditional singers although many folk song collectors seemed to ignore it. Both Johnny Doughty of Sussex and Norfolk's Walter Pardon sang it and the famed Blaxhall singer Geoff Ling's rendition can be heard on VT154CD 'Good Hearted Fellows'.

 

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Jones' Ale was New

 

There were three jolly countrymen come over the hills together,

Come over the hills together to join our jovial crew,

They called at our ale-house and asked for pints and pots of ale,

They asked for pints and pots of ale,

While Jones’ ale was new my boys, while Jones’ ale was new.

 

Oh the first to come in was a soldier with his firebrand over his shoulder,

No man could look any bolder to join our jovial crew,

The landlord's daughter she come in, and so she tickled him under his chin,

And the pots and pints of ale rolled in,

While Jones' ale was new, my boys, while Jones' ale was new.

 

Oh the next come in was a tinker, he was no small beer drinker,

Nobody could look any bolder to join our jovial crew,

Have you any old pots or kettles to mend, for my rivets are made of the best of metal,

Good lord how his hammers and pincers did rattle,

While Jones' ale was new, my boys, while Jones' ale was new.

 

The next come in was a dyer, he sat himself down by the fire,

No man could look any bolder to join our jovial crew,

He told the landlord to his face the chimney corner was his place,

And there he'd sit and scorch his old face,

‘Til Jones' ale was new, my boys, while Jones' ale was new.

 

The next come in was a mason, his hammer it wanted new facing,

No man could look any bolder to join our jovial crew,

He threw his old hammer at the wall and wished alI the churches and chapels might fall,

And then there'd be work for masons all,

While Jones' ale was new, my boys, while Jones' ale was new.

 

The next come in was a ragman with his ragbag over his shoulder,

No man could look any bolder to join our jovial crew,

He told the landlord to his heart that he would pawn his old donkey and cart,

And spend the money with all his heart,

While Jones' ale was new, my boys, while Jones' ale was new.

 

Now the last to come in was a cobbler, slapstone over his shoulder,

No man could look any bolder to join our jovial crew,

He dropped his slapstone on his toes and he swore that his wife should never want for shoes,

And he swore that his wife should never want for shoes,

While Jones' ale was new, my boys, while Jones' ale was new.

 

This popular country song was first published as 'Jones Ale is Newe' in 1594 and the many recorded versions seem to produce a never-ending parade of artisans visiting the local pub. 19th century broadside printers including Catnach, Birt, Fortey, Such, Thackeray and Jennings (London), Willey (Cheltenham), Harkness (Preston), Fordyke (Newcastle /Hull) and Baird (Cork), also found a market for the song, often under the name 'Joan's Ale', 'John's Ale' or 'The Jovial Crew'. The song spread all over England and in East Anglia Ralph Vaughan Williams noted it down from a Mr Hilton in South Walsham, Norfolk in 1908 and Ben and Robert Hurr in Southwold, Suffolk in 1910. Recordings which are currently available include: Fred Jordan (Shropshire) on TSCD663 'They Ordered their Pints of Beer', George Fradley (Derbyshire) on VTC6CD 'It was on a Market Day - One' and Charlie Stringer (Suffolk) on VTC2CD ‘Songs Sung in Suffolk'

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blackguard Gypsies

 

Three gypsies they slept here last night,

They sang so sweet they charm-ed me,

They sang so sweet they charm-ed me,

And I came down stairs immediately.

 

“Then it comes in where she runs off along with the gypsies.”

  

When the lord he awoke off his sleep,

Enquiring for his Annie-o,

The maid she replied, “She’s not here,

She’s gone with the blackguard gypsies-o.”

 

“So sell my hose and sell my clothes,

I’ll sell my silk and garters too,

I’ll sell my petticoats connected to my smock,

And my apron to cover up my belly-o.”

 

A fragment of a song dating back to the eighteenth century, which was very widely distributed particularly in England, Scotland, Ireland and North America. Under a variety of titles including 'Black Jack Davy', 'Gypsy Davy', 'Gypsie Laddie Oh', 'Draggletail Gypsies', 'Dark Eyed Gypsy' and 'Raggle Taggle Gypsies', the song tells the story of a band of Gypsies casting a spell on a lady to make her run away with them. Her husband returns home and discovers she's gone and sets off in pursuit. When he catches up with them the lady refuses to leave the Gypsies. In earlier versions the lord takes his revenge by hanging the Gypsies. This is a rare song in most of East Anglia although in Norfolk George Butterworth collected three versions in the early 1900s and fuller versions can be heard from Walter Pardon (TSCD656 'Tonight I'll make You My Bride') and Harry Cox (TSCD512D 'The Bonny Labouring Lad').

 

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Joe the Boat is Going Over

 

It happened on one afternoon all in the month of May,

Was walking out with a pretty little girl I unto her did say,

“Will you go with us for a row?” as we stood on the shore,

“It’ll do you good.” She exclaimed, “It would!” For she’d not been there before.

 

Chorus:

“Oh Joe, the boat is going over,

Oh Joe, you naughty man,” she cried,

“Oh Joe, I wish you’d been in Dover,

Before you ever took me on the water for a ride.”

 

I pulled again with all my might and hadn’t gone very far,

Before my girl commenced to scream and said she’d tell her Ma,

And as those words fell from her lips a steamer come close by,

Which caused the boat to pitch and toss and her again to cry:

(Chorus)

 

I felt uneasy in my mind I scarcely what to do,

I thought that girl would have died from fright, and so would all of you,

She said, “Dear Joe do take me home, here I cannot remain,

And then there come another wave which made her shout again:

(Chorus)

 

Now thinking it would ease her mind, I pulled towards the shore,

She said that I was very kind and would not go any more,

On the water for a row then now until this day,

And if you want to make her cross, you only have to say:

(Chorus)

 

This song, which originated in the music halls, has two different versions which both share the same chorus. It is the most popular of the two that Harry Green sings, which was written, composed and performed by John Read and dates back to 1881. The tune to this song has probably been the most popular polka played in East Anglia by country musicians. This is particularly true of melodeon players and the best know - Norfolk's Percy Brown and Suffolk's Oscar Woods can both be heard playing it on VTDC11CD 'The Pigeon on the Gate'.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Barleycorn

 

There was three men come from the west, and they were all a-dry,

They made a vow, a solemn vow, John Barleycorn should die,

Ah poor boy, John Barleycorn should die.

 

They ploughed their land, they harrowed it well, scratched clods all over his head,

They made a vow, a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead,

Ah poor boy, John Barleycorn was dead.

 

They let him lay a little while, ‘til a shower of rain did fall,

Then John Barleycorn sprang up a green blade and soon surprised them all,

Ah poor boy he soon surprised them all.

 

They let him stand ‘til midsummer, ‘til he grew pale and sear,

Then they hired men with scythe stick in to cut him down at his knees,
Ah poor boy, to cut him down at his knees.
 
They hired men with pitchforks in to prick him to his heart,
They pitch-ed him and they loaded him and they bound him to a cart,
Ah poor boy, they bound him to a cart.
 
They carted him up and down the field, they carted him to the farm,
That is how they served John Barleycorn and they swore they done him no harm,
Ah poor boy, they swore they done him no harm.
 
They’ve hired men with great sticks in to beat him out at once,
Swish, swash went onto his head, and the flesh flew from his bones,
Ah poor boy and the flesh flew from his bones.
 
They put him into a sack poor boy and tied him up with a string,
But John Barleycorn untied himself and he soon got out again,
Ah poor boy, he soon got out again.
 
They put him onto a kiln poor boys for to roast his bones,
But now they served him the worst of all, they crushed him between two stones,
Ah poor boy, they crushed him between two stones.
 
They put him into a tub poor boy, for to scald him there,
But John Barleycorn ran out below and he soon became strong beer,
Ah poor boy, he soon became strong beer.
 
Put wine into a glass, put cider into a can,
Put John Barleycorn into a pint mug and he’ll prove the noblest man,
Ah poor boy, he’ll prove the noblest man.
 
Let any man be as strong as he will, as I’ve often told you before,
But if he takes too much of John Barleycorn he’ll put you onto the floor,

Ah poor boy, he’ll put you onto the floor.

 

This complete version of the classic country song tells the story of the life-cycle of the barley grain used in brewing beer. One of the earliest known versions was a black letter broadside printed by Henry Gosson (1607-41) which can be found in the Pepys Collection. It became popular with eighteenth century printers and later on sequels such as 'Hey, John Barleycorn' and 'Little John Barleycorn' appeared. The song became popular all over rural England and not surprisingly was found throughout East Anglia. I recorded two other fine versions in Suffolk from Tom Smith of Thorpe Morieux (VTC2CD 'Songs Sung in Suffolk') Roy Last of Mendlesham Green (VT130CD 'Who Owns the Game?') and early collectors also found the song prevalent in Essex. In 1904 Ralph Vaughan Williams collected it from a Mr Peacock at Ingrave, and in 1911 Clive Carey noted it down from both George Wright and Harry Smith in Thaxted. Then in the early 1960s Sam Steele recorded Billy Rash of West Wratting on the Cambridgeshire /Essex border singing the song and the excellent Essex singer Reg Bacon of Radwinter, whose version can be heard on VT150CD ‘Heel & Toe'.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hares on the Mountain /Knife in the window

 

If maidens were hares and they fed on the mountains,
If maidens were hares and they fed on the mountains,
Why then the young men they would all go a-hunting.
Refrain: Sing fal la ral, la rul, Jack fal la rol day.
 
If maidens were blackbirds and built in the bushes,
If maidens were blackbirds and built in the bushes,
Why then the young men they would all go a-nesting.
(Refrain)
 
“Oh Polly my love may I come to bed to thee,
Oh Polly my love may I come to bed to thee,”
“Oh no,” she replied, ‘I’m afraid you’ll undo me.” 
(Refrain)
 
“Oh no,” he replied, “Love I will not undo thee.”
“Oh no,” he replied, “Love I will not undo thee.”
“Oh then,” she replied, “You may come to bed to me.”
(Refrain)
 
“The door it is barred love, I cannot undo it.
The door it is barred love, I cannot undo it.”
“Oh then,” she replied, “You must put your knee to it.”
(Refrain)
 
He put his knee to it, the door flew asunder,
He put his knee to it, the door flew asunder,
Then upstairs he run, just like lightning and thunder.
(Refrain)
 
“My small clothes are tight love, I cannot undo them,
My small clothes are tight love I cannot undo them.”
“Oh then,” she replied, “There’s a knife in the window.”
(Refrain)
 
His small clothes were off and he into bed tumbled,
His small clothes were off and he into bed tumbled,
And I’ll leave to you to guess how that young couple fumbled.
(Refrain)
 
When eight months were over and nine months asunder,
When eight months were over and nine months asunder,
She said, “Do you remember the knife in the window?”
(Refrain)
 
Interestingly a similar combination of these two songs can also be found in Roy Palmer's book 'Everyman's Book of English Country Songs' taken from a recording of Bill Whiting in 
Berkshire. The first two verses come from a popular song which is sometimes attributed to Samuel Lover (1797-1855), who included it in his novel 'Rory o' More' but it probably 
predates this and it has been suggested that it is related to the ballad 'The Two Magicians' (Child 44). A more complete version of 'Hares on the Mountain' can be heard sung by 
Northamptonshire singer Jeff Wesley on VTC7CD 'It was on a Market Day One'. The rest of Ernest Austin's song is the 'Knife in the Window' which Cecil Sharp collected in Somerset in 
1906 as 'Sally my Dear' - he wrote that the words “had of necessity to be somewhat altered” and his uncensored version was not published until 1958. Harry Cox of Catfield, Norfolk 
sang a full version to Peter Kennedy, which can be heard on RCD1778 'Songs of Seduction' and the words can be found in Kennedy's book, 'Folksongs of Britain and Ireland'.
 

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

The Photo of the Girl I left Behind

 

When first I made my mind up that a soldier I would be,

The girl that I was courting with came round and said to me,

“Now I’ve had me photo taken Bill, if we are to part,

I hope that you will always keep this locket near your heart.”

I took it and said, “Very well,” as her ruby lips I kissed,

Then bidding farewell to all me pals, then off I went to enlist.

 

With a photo of the girl I left behind me, I went to join the army full of glee,

Someone came up to remind me, that a doctor wanted to examine me,

Now when the doctor found that photograph my heart he said to me,

“Whose photograph is this sir that I find?

Is this your captain’s bulldog?”

I said, “No if you please, it’s a photo of the girl I left behind.”

 

Now I hadn’t been in the army long when the captain said, “My lad,

Lately I’ve noticed your shooting’s very bad.”

If you stay in the army there will have to be a change,

In the morning get your gun and practise at the range.”

I saluted and said, “Very well, your bidding shall be done.”

On the following morning off I goes and gets me gun.

 

And with a photo of the girl I left behind me, I went to practised shooting all the day,

Some came up to remind me the wind had blown our target all away,

He shake his head, “Our target’s gone, whatever shall we do?”

I shouted to our captain, “Never mind!”

If you haven’t got a target and you’re wanting something to shoot at,

Here’s the photo of the girl I left behind.

 

Now I never shall forget that day that I first went under fire,

I was looking at that photo of that girl that I admired,

I thought her lovely face would encourage me to go,

And fight like Britishers should do when going to face the foe,

The general said, “We’re cornered boys, fight like ever you must.”

I kissed that photograph and they couldn’t see me for dust.

 

And with a photo of the girl I left behind me, I dashed into the thickest of the fray,

Someone said, “Our ammunition’s gone boys, I’m afraid we’re going to have a losing day.”

He said, “Our ammunition’s gone. Whatever shall we do?

I shouted to our general, “Never mind!”

I rushed amongst the enemy and I frightened them to death,

With a photo of the girl I left behind.

 

The English music hall performer Billy Merson (1879-1947) wrote this song and he recorded it along with 'Good Ship Yacki Hicki Doola' on a 78rpm record (Unison 165B)  in 1921. While working in a lace-making factory, and doing shows in the evening, he built a huge career and many of his songs became popular including 'Desdemona' and ‘The Spaniard that Blighted My Life'. This particular song gained favour with traditional singers in East Anglia and Neil Lanham recorded it from Buster Brown in Great Easton, Essex and Ginette Dunn in her book about Blaxhall, Suffolk - 'The Fellowship of Song’ - mentions that Ruby Ling sang and it and that she probably learned it when she was in service in London.

 

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunch of Thyme

 

Now come all you maidens young and fair,

All you who that are blooming in your prime,

Always be aware and leave your garden fair,

Let no man steal away your thyme.

 

For thyme it is a precious thing,

And thyme brings all things to my mind,

Thyme with all its flavours, along with all its joys,

Thyme brings all things to my mind.

 

Once she had a bunch of thyme,

She thought it never would decay,

Then came a lusty sailor, who chanced to pass that way,

He stole her bunch of thyme away.

 

That sailor gave to her a rose,

A rose that never would decay,

He gave it to her, to keep her reminded,

Of when he stole her thyme away.

 

Now come all you maidens young and fair,

All you that are blooming in your prime,

Always be aware, and keep your garden fair,

Let no man steal away your thyme.

 

For thyme it is a precious thing,

And thyme brings all things to my mind,

Thyme with all its flavours, along with all its joys,

Thyme brings all things to an end,

Thyme brings all things to an end.

 

This song is related to one of the most collected forms of English folk songs, often known as  'Sprig of Thyme', 'Plenty of Thyme' and as 'The Seeds of Love' it was the first song Cecil Sharp noted down in 1903. Although popular in both England and North America, it was obviously not seen as saleable by broadside printers as imprints by Bebbington (Manchester ) and Forth (Hull) are two of the surprisingly few examples. Ralph Vaughan Williams noted down versions from James Punt of East Horning, Essex in 1904 and Billy Waggs of Orwell, Cambridgsehire in 1908. Later the song crossed to Ireland and was re-shaped and Sugar's Bailey's version with it's reference to the lusty sailor, probably has its origins there. In recent years it was popularised by Foster and Allen who turned it into a hit record.

 

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fox and the Hare

 

Six wives I’ve had and they’re all dead,

But I bet a wager I don’t have another,

I’m single again and I mean to remain,

And go to live with Mother.

 

Chorus:

There’s the fox and the hare and the badger and the bear,

And the birds on the greenwood tree,

The pretty little rabbits they’re engaged in their habits,

But they’ve all got a mate but me.

 

Oh the first on the page was little Sally Sage,

She once was a ladys maid,

And she ran away in a very dark day,

With a fellow in the fried fish trade.

Chorus

 

Oh the next one to charm was a girl on our farm,

Well versed in harrows and ploughs,

She guarded the rigs a lot of little pigs,

And she squeezed new milk from the cows.

Chorus

 

Oh the next was a cook, her beauty was her hook,

I'll tell you the reason why,

On her leg she'd a stump, on her neck she'd a bump,

Got a naughty little squintle in her eye.

 

She was eighteen stone, all muscle and bone,

And looked with an awful leer,

She would have been mine, and she fell in decline,

Through swallowing the mouse in the beer.

 

Oh the next to claim was a right dolly dame,

With a purse as long as your arm,

All full o' yellow gold, such a sight to behold,

And a heart so amazingly warm.

 

A rowley scene was a love for gin,

Which broke her hope to the wreck,

For she slipped with her heel on a piece of orange peel,

Fell down and broke a bone in her neck.

Chorus

 

Oh the last I had, through drink went mad,

In vain I tried to stop her,

But sad to say it was my dismay,

She got slowly boiled to death in the copper.

Chorus 

 

This is a rare song in England: only eight versions are listed in the Roud database and five of these come from North America. One of these, are found in the book 'On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs' is entitled 'Dey All Got A Mate But Me' while an English version collected by Francis Collinson from a Mr Ring in Bethersden Kent is called 'The Fox and the Bear'. The two other English versions are from East Anglia: one recorded by Neil Lanham from Beryl Cowen in Colchester, Essex and the other recorded by Desmond Herring from Emily Sparkes in Rattlesden, Suffolk, which can be heard on VTDC8CD 'Many a Good Horseman'.

 

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Mossy Banks of the Lea

 

It’s first in this country a ranger, (stranger?)

Curiosity caused me for to roam,

And there I beheld a fair damsel,

And I wished in my heart she was mine.

 

How I waited until up came her father,

Plucked up my spirits once more,

Saying, “If this be your daughter Matilda,

She’s the beautifulest girl I adore.”

 

“Ten thousand a year is my fortune,

And a lady your daughter shall be,

She shall ride on that carriage and horses,

On the Green Mossy Banks of the Lea.”

 

This is a fragment of a ballad Harry remembered being sung in the Bell at Great Easton, by visiting steam engine drivers who were working on the harvest. It seems to date back to the1820s and became popular in England, North America and Ireland where it is suggested that it originated. In the eastern counties, during the early twentieth century, collectors such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth, E.J Moeran and Cecil Sharp found it widely sung. In Essex a Mr Broomfield of Herongate, near East Horndon, sang it to Vaughan Williams in 1904. Other recordings from East Anglia include Harry Cox of Catfield Norfolk, with a much fuller version, on TSCD512D 'The Bonny Labouring Boy' and a two verse fragment from Emily Sparkes of Rattlesden, Suffolk on VTCD8CD 'Many a Good Horseman'.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treat my Daughter Kindly

 

I once did know an old farmer, he’s a good and a faithful old soul,

I used to work upon his farm, and round at his country home,

He only had one daughter - for to win her I did try,

And when I asked him for her, the old man he replied:

 

Chorus:

“Oh treat my daughter kindly, say you’ll do her no harm,

And when I die I’ll leave (will - 2nd & 3rd time) to you my little stock and farm,

Me horse, me plough, sheep and cow, ox, me hoe, me barn,

And all those little chickens in the garden.”

 

Well I loved this young girl dearly and I know that she loved me,

And many a time I’ve walked around, for her smiling face to see,

To watch her milk the brindle cow, to see it does her no harm,

And many a cup of milk I’ve drunk, before I leave the farm.

(chorus)

 

Now the old man he has given consent, and married we will be,

We’ll lead a life of happiness, in our own little country,

I’ll try and keep that promise, which the old man asked of me -

My only child use her well and treat her kind-erly.

(chorus)

 

This song, originally entitled The Farmer's Daughter or The Little Chickens in the Garden, was written by American songwriter James Allan Bland (1854 -1919) who also wrote Golden Slippers. Sheet music was published by Oliver Ditson & Co in 1883 and the cover states that it was the “Greatest success of the season with 10,000 copies sold in the first week!” Its popularity meant that it easily slipped into the tradition, particularly in America and Canada. It also found its way to these shores and it was published by the Poet's Box in Dundee and turns up in Jimmy McBride's collection from Donegal and Neil Lanham's recordings from Suffolk and Essex. It was also a favourite of Norfolk singer Walter Pardon.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banks of the Sweet Primroses

 

Stand off, stand off for you are deceitful,

You are a false and deceitful man,

It’s you that’s caused my poor heart to wander,

And to give me comfort, it’s all in vain.

 

So we’ll go down in some lonesome valleys,

Where a man on earth shall ever be found,

Where the pretty little small birds shall change their voices,

And every moment blow blustering wind.

 

This is the 3rd and 4th verse of a five verse ballad which Roy Palmer in 'Everyman's Book of English Country Songs' describes as “A woman's grief at being deceived by a man causes her to reject his attempt to renew their relationship. However, her final warning to other 'fair maids' turns into an expression of hope”. This must have been one of the most popular of broadside productions with at least nineteen printers from all over England listing it in their catalogues. During his 1904 collecting trip to Essex Ralph Vaughan Williams came across three versions from Charles White in Fyfield, Samuel Childs and Edna Veal in Willingale Doe. Recorded versions of the complete song can heard from Fred Jordan (VT148CD 'The Shropshire Lad') and from Phil Tanner (VT145CD 'The Gower Nightingale').

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down in the Fields where the Buttercups all Grow

 

Oh, Mary Green loves me and I love her too,
We blush when we meet like all true lovers do,
Beside the plantation, where green meadows run,
We spoon in the dark and we have lots of fun.
Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow,
My sweet heart and I were too bashful and slow,
For she changed her mind, and I let myself go,
Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow.
 

We walked side by side through the long winding grass,
The rhubarb grew sideways to let us both pass,
We stood ’neath the tree, and the birds up above,
Were openingly dropping their tokens of love.
Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow,
My girl climbed the gate and said, “Turn your head, Joe”,
But I’d a stiff neck, so we let matters go,
Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow.


As me and my sweetheart behind a haystack,
A bumblebee flew down the small of her back,

I saw what had happened and in my distress,
I put my right hand down the back of her dress.
Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow,
My hand down her back, when she struck me a blow,
I'd no idea that bee was so far below,
Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow.

The songsters were greeting the day newly born,
Sheep in the meadows, and cows in the corn,
And when sheep and cows have been round there a bit,
It’s not a nice place for a lady to sit.
Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow,
A cow licking Mary just tickled her so,
She thought it was me, and said, “Don’t slobber Joe",
Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow.
  
 A ten gallon cask on the top of a hill,
 Come thrashing towards us, my heart it stood still,
 But Mary stood bravely, unflinching and true,
 For her legs were so bandy, the barrel nipped through.
 Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow,
 Our courtship was swift, but our honeymoon slow,
 The bed was so small, so we both had to go,
 Down in the fields where the buttercups all grow.

 

(Spoken) “I’m sorry to tell you ladies and gentlemen, my fortune isn’t very swift and I’m sure my honeymoon is slow now. Cheerio.”

 

A very popular country song, written by the prolific songwriter William Hargreaves, whose other songs included Burlington Bertie from Bow. The popularity of Down in the Fields probably stems from a 78 rpm recording made by northern comedian Charlie Higgins in 1931 (Rex 8065) and although the song was sung all over the southern counties of England, few actual recordings turn up. In East Anglia, Neil Lanham recorded it from Jack Tarling at Steeple Bumpstead, Essex and I recorded it from Hubert Freeman at Bedingfield, Suffolk. His rendition can be heard on VTC4CD 'Down in the Fields'.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Girl Who Led a Life so Straight

 

A girl who led a life so straight,

Who lived in high society,

A matelot coming home from sea,

He stole that girl’s virginity.

 

Her father coming home one night,

He found the house without a light,

He went upstairs to go to bed,

When a sudden thought came to his head.

 

He went into his daughter’s room,

And found her hanging by a beam,

He took his knife and cut her down,

And on her breast these words he found:

 

“I wish my baby had been born,

And all my troubles would be gone,

So dig my grave and dig it deep,

And place white lilies at my feet.”

 

Though they dug her grave and dug it deep,

And placed white lilies at her feet,

And on her tomb they placed a dove,

To show that she had died for love.

 

Now all you maidens bear in mind,

A matelot’s love is hard to find,

So if you find one good and true,

Don’t change the old love for the new.

 

Usually known as Died for Love this song is found all over England, finding particular favour with servicemen during the Second World War: it was probably while in the Royal Navy that Stan Walters learned it. Another full version can be found in Roy Palmer's book 'What a Lovely War' (Michael Joseph 1990) with the text coming from Sussex singer Gordon Hall. The song is a remnant from several older songs. Its theme, where the father /sailor /farmer /miner comes home late to find his daughter hanging from a beam, is often where these older songs begin. It is suggested that this newer form originated in America where it gained great popularity. In England the song was sung by many Gypsy singers and Jasper Smith's version on TSCD600 'Hidden English' is a good example. In Suffolk, Geoff Ling of Blaxhall called it Change the Old Love for the New and his rendition can be heard on VTC1CD 'Stepping it Out!'.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Irish Eggs are Frying

 

When Irish eggs are frying,

And the bacon’s in the pan,

You can hear the sausage singing,

Alexander’s Ragtime Band,

You pick your knife and fork up,

And the world seems bright and gay,

When you go to cut your sausage,

The bloody thing runs away.

 

This is a parody of 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling' which was a lighthearted song in tribute to Ireland, published in 1912. The original was written by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff with music composed by Ernest Ball. The mention of Alexander's Ragtime Band which was first published in 1911 probably confirms the likely period of this piece. Stan learned it when he started work in the saw mills.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Herring Song

 

What shall we do with the herring’s head?
Make them into loaves of bread,
Herring’s head, loaves of bread and all such things,
For all the fish that live in the sea, the herring is the king of the fish for me,
Bunkey doodle - i - doh,
Bunkey doodle - i.
 
What shall we do with the herring’s tails?
Make them into pots and pails,
Herring’s tales, pots and pails and all such things,
For all the fish that live in the sea, the herring is the king of the fish for me,
Bunkey doodle - i - doh,
Bunkey doodle - i.
 
What shall we do with the herring’s eyes?
Make them into puddings and pies,
Herring’s eyes, puddings and pies and all such things,
For all the fish that live in the sea, the herring is the king of the fish for me,
Bunkey doodle - i - doh,
Bunkey doodle - i.
 
What shall we do with the herring’s bellies?
Make them into cakes and jellies,
Herring’s bellys cakes and jellies and all such things,
Of all the fish that live in the sea, the herring is the king of the fish for me,
Bunkey doodle - i - doh,
Bunkey doodle - i.
 
What shall we do with the herring’s fins?
Make them into backing tins,
Herring’s fins, backing tins,
Herring’s bellies, cakes and jelly,
Herring’s eyes, puddings and pies,
Herring’s tails, pots and pails,
Herring’s head, loaves of bread and all such things,
Of all the fish that live in the sea, the herring is the king of the fish for me.
Bunkey doodle - i - doh,
Bunkey doodle - i.
 
What shall we do with the herring’s smell?
It’s impossible to tell.
 

The earliest version of this song, often known as The Red Herring or Jolly Herring, is a manuscript from 1831. Lorna Tarran learned this from her father, who was from Rowhedge and it is a song which is known all around the coast of England as well as being popular with many rural singers. There are over ninety submissions in the Roud database. It was certainly favoured by East Anglian singers and in Essex Ralph Vaughan Williams noted it in 1904 from Ted Nevill of Little Burstead, Francis Collinson collected it from Alfred Hills in Braintree and in the 1960s Joy Hyman recorded it from Herbert Chapman (who called it 'The Yarmouth Herring') in Great Dunmow. Other available recordings from Suffolk, include Ted Chaplin on VTC5CD 'When the Wind Blows' and Gypsy singer Phoebe Smith on VT136CD 'The Yellow Handkerchief'.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flash Girl

 

(Spoken)

I see young Nick come out of his, as I come out of mine,

“Where are you going, boy?” I say, “You’re dressed up something fine.”
“Where am I going mate?” he did say, “Well if you really want to know,
Well I’m going to Colchester, in half an hour or so,
I’m going by the carrier’s cart and I hope I won’t be late.”
He smiled and he looked fair sheepish and said, “I got myself a date,
I’ll tell you, boy, I’ve fell in love, and I’ve really got it strong.”
Shuffled his feet and tipped his hat and then he burst into song:
 
(Sung) 
“Watch her, pipe her, tweak her as she goes,
With her high boots of patent leather, my jigger she’s all the go,
She is one of those flash girls and her beauty’s bound to shine,
She a regular bold young driver on Knickerbocker Line.”
 
I met her up in London, the first time that I’d been,
She’s a chignon as big as a pillow and a whacking crinoline,
The hat that she had got on was fit for any queen,
Two flashing eyes and coal black hair, her hat was trimmed with green.
 
“Watch her, pipe her, tweak her as she goes,
With her high boots of patent leather, my gigger she’s all the go,
She is one of those flash girls and her beauties bound to shine,
She a regular bold young drive on Knickerbocker Line.”
 
(Spoken)
He stopped, and pointed to a bag a-lying on the ground,
“I’ve got a present here for her, she’ll like it, I’ll be bound,
Two dozen natives and a half a bottle of wine,
I got them at the Victory, and they cost me one and nine.”
Just then we heard the carrier’s cart, trundling up Coast Road,
“Hop in Nick”, the carrier said, “You’ll just make up my load.”
He took his seat and grinned and said, “Don’t expect we’ll take long.”
And once again he started to sing his little song:
 
(Sung)
Watch her, pipe her, tweak her as she go,
With her high boots of patent leather, my gigger she’s all the go,
And when she’s put the two dozen away and the half a bottle of wine,
I’ll ask if she’ll marry me and promise to be mine,
I’ll bring her back to Mersea and I’ll take her home to tea,
The boys will be green with envy, her beauty for to see,
For she is one of those flash girls and I’m sure she will be mine,
And together we’ll go riding on the Knickerbocker Line.
 
(Spoken)
The carrier’s cart moved out of sight with Nicks song getting thinner,
So I turned into the Hart for a pint, then I went home for my dinner,
I see young Nick come out of his as I came out of mine,
He looked so sad and miserable I thought he was in decline,
“She wouldn’t have me, boy,” He say, “She said I was a dud,
Said I was a country clodhopper. She fairly cooled my blood,
But what really got me, matey, what nipped me in the bud,
Was where she told me where to put me Mersea and it’s mud!”
He sighed and said, ‘Oh course, old matey, she never would have belong,
And for the very last time he sung his flash girl’s song:
 
(Sung)
“I watched her, pipe her, tweak her as she went,
With her high boots of patent leather, off with another gent,
Yes she is one of those flash girls, and he needs to watch his coin,
‘Cos she’ll spend every guinea on her Knickerbocker Line.”
 

Lorna Tarran learned this intriguing piece from her grandmother and there is a hand- written transcript of it in the Mersea Island Museum collection, at the top of which it states ‘by Grannie French 1885 to 1938’. The piece is a combination of texts from several sources, with the story set on Mersea Island. The opening four lines are very similar to those which start Never Been to Colchester which is included in Charles Benham's Essex Ballads (1897) while the chorus and song verses are based on the song The Knickerbocker Line which usually tells the story of a lady of the night stealing a watch. The song comes from America (the Knickerbocker line was a stage coach company in Brooklyn) and in 'Folk Songs of the Catskills' (Univ. of New York 1982) by Cazden, Haufrecht and Studer, it is suggested that the oldest text about the Knickerbocker line is called The Stage Driver. This was a theatre piece published in 1859: two years later its composer James Unsworth was active in London and that is probably how it reached these shores. Several broadside printers republished the song which then spread around the country. Percy Grainger noted the song in Chelsea in London from Charles Rosher in 1907 and Peter Kennedy recorded it in Bristol from Stanley Slade in 1950. Norfolk fisherman Sam Larner of Winterton also sang a related song, to the same tune, called Dogger Bank which mentions the Knickerbocker line in the final chorus.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

As I Walked Out One May Morning

 

As I walk-ed out one May morning,

All down by some shady green groves,

And there I beheld a most charming pretty maid,

And her cheeks were as red as the rose, the rose,

And her cheeks were as red as the rose.

Her cheeks were Iike the roses so red,

And her eyes were as black as a sloe,

She's called the biggest beauty in this wide, wide world,

And she's bless-ed wheresoever she goes, she goes,

And she's bless-ed wheresoever she goes.

 

“May I walk with you, my charming pretty maid?

I'm in hopes there's no harm to be done.”

“Oh yes, kind sir, you may walk along with me,

Although you’re a poor man's son, son,

Although you’re a poor man's son.”

 

“A poor man's son I fancy.” said she,

“If you court me with courage so bold,

A poor man's son is as sweet unto me,

As a squire with his weight in gold, in gold,

As a squire with his weight in gold.”

 

So to church they went and married they were,

And the bells they did merry chime,

The drums they did beat and the music did play,

And Old England, me boys, did drink wine, drink wine,

And Old England, me boys, did drink wine.

 

Many ballads have the first line “As I walked out one May morning” including: 'New Mown Hay', 'The Bold Fisherman', 'Seventeen Come Sunday', 'Lowlands of Holland', 'My Husband's Got No Courage in Him', 'Searching for Lambs', 'The Irish Girl', and 'Cupid the Pretty Ploughboy'. The second line is usually about meeting a maid or maids and when the roles are reversed, a fisherman or a ploughboy. Eventually, in the last verse the potential suitor either spurns the advances of the main character or marries them, which is of course how Harry's song ends. His version, although reminiscent of some of the others, seems to be unique to him and has therefore been given its own Roud number.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I Courted a Fine Young Lass

 

Oh once I courted a fine young lass, a fine young lass was she,
Her name was Katie Thingamajig, and mine was Tommy McKee,
Oh I courted her so gaily, I courted her with care,
Her father said he’d slap my bum, if ever he caught me there.
 
Chorus:
With me rum she addity, kill me addity,
Rum she addity aye,
Rum she addity, fella me addity,
Rum she addity aye.
 
Now Kit and I contrived it, a ladder for to get,
Into the garret window I very quickly crept,
I laughed and laughed and tickled laughed to see how things went on,
But my foot slipped through the window - I fell and cut my bum!
(Chorus)
 
Now they wheeled me home in a wheelbarrow, they wheeled me home with care,
Me father and mother stood at the door, oh lor’ how they did stare,
My brother Bill come running out, and said, “What have you done?”
“Why can’t you see, you silly young fool, well I fell and cut me bum!”
(Chorus)
 
Now they took me to the doctor’s, and there they laid the case,
I could not help but smiling, as he stared me in the face,
I thought about making a fool of him, but a fool of him began,
When a bigger fool he made of me, when he turpentined my bum!
(Chorus)
 

This song seems to be related to a nineteenth century broadside called 'Madam Sneak and I', where it is the lady who has the unfortunate accident. Harry's version, which is often known as 'Wop, She 'ad it-i-o' or 'Rumpsy Bumpsy', probably has its origins in the music hall. The well known Sussex singing family the Coppers were renowned for their rendition. The only recording of them singing it is on the long deleted 1971 four LP box set LED 2068 'A Song for Every Season'. Although it would seem to have obvious appeal to a country singer, the only other places it has turned up are in Dorset and Gloucestershire and a version in Steve Gardham's book 'An East Riding Songster' (Lincs. & Humberside Arts 1982) which has the splendid last line “There goes a man with a leg in a sling and he's only got 'alf a bum.”

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thaxted Bells

 

Now little boys of London town,

Come with their hooks to pull them down,

And then they run from hedge to hedge,

Until they get to London Bridge.

 

Harry Green called this Thaxted Bells and on first hearing it sounds like a fragment of a much longer piece but it is actually four lines from a six line children's rhyme about 'scrumping’ apples, called 'Upon Paul's Steeple Stands a Tree' which was published in 1877 in a collection compiled by Walter Crane called 'The Baby's Opera'.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Was a Stranger in London

 

One night I was in Piccadilly, I met a poor girl in distress,

A simple and sweet country maiden, I could tell by the style of her dress,

She said, “Oh kind sir, will you help me? I know that you’re good by your face,

I want to go home to me uncle. If you please sir I can’t find the place.”

 

Chorus:

She was a stranger in London, only just came to town,

She wanted to find her uncle, whose name was Mister Brown,

In distress she lost the address, (and) didn’t know where to go,

But had an idea that her uncle lived down in Pimlico.

 

Upon this poor girl I took pity, and think then what could be done,

She said she felt faint and hungry and longed for a milk and a bun,

He said, “You shall have something better, to (+++?) and this took this fair lamb,

Well she shifted about three score of oysters, and half of four bottles of Cham.

(Chorus)

 

The waiters they all seemed familiar, as if she had been there before,

I fancy I heard one of them whisper, “Say Maude shall I bring you some more?”

Right out in the street I then took her, and well for a cab looking around,

And failing that, moments just after, my purse still was missing I found.

(Chorus)

 

Another night in Piccadilly, again I saw this rustic pet,

Two bobbies were trying to take her, that’s a sight I shall never forget,

She scratched, bit and fought like a tigress, in vain she strove to get free,

When two more policemen came with a stretcher and off went that girl who told me:

(Chorus)

 

A song with this title was written by T. Browne and published by Howard & Co. in 1895. A word set for it has not been found so this may or may not be the same song. Evidence of it being performed is sparse, with the only mention of it being in two newspaper reports. The first was in 'The Western Australian' on 21st July 1897 when Miss Daisy Chard performed a song of this title, which was described as a serio-comic song, at a benefit concert in the Cremorne Theatre. The second was in the 'Taranaki Herald' (New Zealand), on 19th August 1898 when Mr C. Barraclough performed it as an encore at the Theatre Royal.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladies Won't you Marry

 

I made up me mind the other day,

That I would marry right away,

I knocked on a door and I began to grin,

I was pretty good looking so they asked me in.

 

Chorus:

Oh Ladies won’t you marry?

Oh Ladies won’t you marry?

Oh Ladies won’t you marry?

I’ll tell you the reason why.

 

As I was walking down the street,

I saw some ladies dressed so neat,

Look, oh ladies, look this way,

And unto them I thus did say:

(Chorus)

 

Some were short, some were tall,

God bless their hearts I love them all,

One asked me home with her to dine,

She was pretty good looking so I didn’t decline.

(Chorus)

 

(spoken)

      Ladies and gentlemen. Of course I could not refuse her invitation as I felt very hungry. But talk about a dinner! By God, that was a twister! And no two ways about it, mother!

      Now I'll tell you what we had for dinner. We had coconuts and onion sauce, boiled beef and oranges, turkey and rhubarb tart, birds and pickles, goose and geese, meat and mutton, sprats and fish, roast pork and water­cress, cod liver oil and cheese.

      Then came the dessert. They had shrimps, apples, whelks, nuts, pears, and pipes of 'bacca.

      Now I'll tell you who was invited to this dinner. There was Rosie Anna, Clarie Anna, Sally Weaver, Betsy Squeaver, Humpty-Back Sue, Screw-Mouth Poll, they were the ladies.

There was Dandy Jim, Jealous Bill, Poppysquash, Uncle Jess, and Old Sam Johnson. He was master of the quality.

      Lor, I shall never forget that day, when they all they managed themselves around the room and they pitched out in a dance.

 

(sung)

Oh Ladies won’t you marry?

Oh Ladies won’t you marry?

Oh Ladies won’t you marry?

And I’ll tell you the reason why.

 

Because they don’t like babies.

Because they don’t like babies.

Because they don’t like babies.

And that’s the reason why.

 

A song with this title, as performed by a Negro minstrel group, was published in Louisville, U.S.A. in 1849 and another was written by English blacked-up music hall artist E. W. Mackey (1825-1909). Harry's song might have its roots in these songs but his use of the tune In and Out the Windows gives us the biggest clue to its origins. Apart from its popularity as a country dance tune (see VTDC11CD 'The Pigeon on the Gate' for instrumental versions) and its several word sets including William Brown and Keep that Wheel a Tuning, it is also associated with a children's game of the same name. In Iona and Peter Opie's book 'The Singing Game' (Oxford Univ. Press 1985) they assert that the game probably has its roots in America but say that it was widespread in Britain before the turn of the twentieth century and they give a text collected in Surrey which contains lines similar to Harry's:  

              I went to the ball the other night, The ladies there were dressed in white,

              Some were short and some were tall, And I asked God to bless them all.

              In and out the windows, (x3) Just as you did before.

              Lady won't you marry, (x3) Before the break of day.

The spoken part of this piece is another amusing memory-testing recitation similar to 'The Pear Tree' which Harry obviously relished.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nutting Girl

 

Come all you brisk young damsels that love to hear a song,

Come listen to my ditty and I will not keep you long,

It’s of a brisk young damsel who lived down in Kent,

She rose one summer’s morning and she a-nutting went.

 

Chorus:

A-nutting we will go, me boys, a-nutting we will go.

With a blue cockade all in our hats we’ll cut a gallant show.

 

There was a brisk young farmer a-ploughing of his land,

He call-ed to his horses and he bade them for to stand,

He sat himself down on his plough a song for to began,

His voice was so melodious it made the valleys ring.

(Chorus)

 

There was this brisk young damsel a-nutting in the wood,

His voice it was so melody it charmed her where she stood,

She had no longer power in that lonely wood to stay,

And what few nuts she had, poor girl, she threw them all away.

(Chorus)

 

She went unto a Johnny as he sat on his plough,

She said, “Young man I find myself I'm sure I can't tell how.”

He said, “My pretty fair maid I'm glad to meet you here,

Come sit you down beside of me, I'll keep you out of fear.”

(Chorus)

 

So Johnny left his horses likewise he left his plough,

He took her to a shady grove his courage for to show,

He took her by the middle so small and gently laid her down,

And she said, “Young man I think I see the world go round and round.”

(Chorus)

 

So Johnny he went to his plough to finish up his song,

He said, “My pretty fair maid your mother will think it long.”

And as they tripped along the plain she on his breast did lean,

And she said, “Young man I should like to see the world go round again.”

(Chorus)

 

Come all you brisk young damsels a warning take by mine,

If you should go out nutting, oh pray be home in time,

For if you should stay out too late, to hear that ploughboy sing,

Perhaps this young farmer will get the nuts all in the spring.

(Chorus)

 

Harry's robust performance of this popular song has an unusual chorus which is similar to that collected from John Northover in Dorset by Henry Hammond in 1906 as 'A Nutting We Will Go'. Under the title 'The Nut Girl 'this song was published by broadside printers the length and the breadth of England and in London alone there were ten different imprints. It also struck a chord in East Anglia and in Suffolk it became the Blaxhall Ship's unofficial anthem, sung by Cyril Poacher. He can be heard on TSCD600 'Hidden English' and another fine rendition can be found on VTC2CD ‘Songs Sung in Suffolk' sung by Tony Harvey of Tannington. In Essex, Ralph Vaughan Williams collected the song in 1904 from a Mr Bloomfield of Herongate, and Ernest Austin who is featured on this CD also sang a version.

Song transcribed by John Howson

Song notes: John Howson