Good for nothing man

When I was young and gay and my age was seventeen,
I sighed for a lover night and day;
I was goin’ along one day, when a man stepped up to me,
And I walked away with a good for nothing man.

He come home from a spree and he’d broke his trousers knee,
And the tail of his shirt was hanging out;
In the middle of the night, sure he wanted me to fight,
At him I let fly, pulled his hair and blacked his eyes,
And I hit him on the smother with the pot,
I picked up the rolling pin and I let it into him,
And I called him a good for nothing man.

So he began to bawl and two bobbies they were called,
And they walked away my good for nothing man.
So you married women free, keep your spirits up like me,
And never let your husband cow you down.

        Although I have heard a number of English Gypsies sing fragments of this song, Betsy’s version is the only one so far listed in Steve Roud’s exhaustive folk song database. The words don’t sound all that old, although the tune has been used with a number of other songs, including A Sailor on the Sea.                              

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down by the old riverside

As I was walking out one day, down by the old riverside,
I met a young girl, came strolling my way and she greatly took my eye;
I ask her if she would walk with me, down by the old riverside,
I ask her if she would sit by my side, I would marry her in time.

He took her home to his dwelling place, to spend the night with her,
The night was dark, the morning was bright, the sun shone bright and clear;
That young man he rose, and put on his clothes, saying, ‘Fare you well my dear.’

‘Now that’s not the promise that you made me, down by the old riverside.
You promised to take me back to your home and make me your lawful bride.’
‘How do you think I could marry such a girl who’s so easily led astray,
You had better go home to your parent’s place and wipe those tears away.’

‘How do you think I can go home now, to bring shame and disgrace,
I would rather go and drown myself or die in some lonesome place.’
He took her by the lily white hand he kissed both cheek and chin,
He took her down to that river side and he gently pushed her in.

He watched her sink, he saw her float, he watched her go down with the tide,
Saying, ‘There goes my love, got a watery grave, and she thought she’d be my bride;
So here’s off to another country I’ll go, and another fresh girl I’ll find,
There’s nobody knows the deed I have done with the girl I left behind’


        A song that turns up frequently on the lips of Gypsy singers. It seems to have started life as a Scots song, As I Went Out ae May Morning, which appears in the late 18th century Scots Musical Museum. By c.1820 it was being printed in garlands as The Gentleman’s Meeting and Forth of Hull printed it a few years later on a broadside as The Distressed Maid. In all these versions the couple part after their amorous encounter and there is no mention of the girl dying later in a river, either by throwing herself into the water, or else by being pushed into the water by the man. (Perhaps this element of the story has slipped in from the mid-18th century song The Berkshire Tragedy, or The Wittam Miller, which later singers came to call The Wexford Girl.) As almost all of the recently collected versions are similar to Sophie’s set, both in tune and words, it would seem that they spring from another, and as yet unknown, broadside.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ball of yarn

I took a stroll one day it was in the month of May,
Of course that would be in the summer time;
When I meet a pretty maid and unto her I said,
‘May I wind up your little ball of yarn?’

‘Oh no, kind sir,’ she said,
You’re a stranger unto me;
You had better to those who got money and gay clothes,
For wind up her little ball of yarn.’

But I took that pretty maid and I rolled her in the shade,
Not thinking I was doing any harm;
While the blackbird and the thrush sang loudly on the bush,
As I wound up that little ball of yarn.

Then that pretty maiden rose and placing down her clothes,
Straight to her mammy she did go;
I tripped across the plain afraid I might be seen,
After winding up her little ball of yarn.

Now come all you fair young ladies, and a warning take by me,
Never you be led astray, listen what I say,
A warning take by me,
Keep your hand on your little ball of yarn.

        We may say that The Ball of Yarn is a song popular with singers (especially Gypsies, including the fine singer Mary Ann Haynes) if not with song collectors who have, presumably, found its content offensive. Robert Burns collected a related Scottish text, The Yellow, Yellow Yorlin - yellowhammer in English - which he included in his Merry Muses of Caledonia of c.1800. According to Stanley Hugill the song was once used as a sea shanty and in 1937 it was recorded commercially (in an edited form) by the Southern Melody Boys, an American string band from the Virginia and Kentucky area. Suffolk singer Gordon Woods sings his version of the song on Veteran CD VTC2CD.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game of all fours

As I went a-walking one midsummer’s morning,
One midsummer’s morning just at break of day;
And who should I meet but a fair pretty lady,
A fair pretty lady all on the highway.

I took hold of her hand and I bids her good morning,
Saying, ‘Where are you going so early this way?’
‘O kind sir,’ she said, ‘I’m a-going to Lisburn,
A beautiful city, that’s where I was born.’

We both travelled on, and we travelled together,
Until we came to an old shady tree;
She sat herself down, and I sat myself by her,
No one could we hear, or no one could we see.

We both then played cards, we played there together,
She throwed down her ace,
And she stole the jack from me;
And that made her high a low jack in the game,

I puts on my hat, and I bid her, ‘Good morning,’
She said, ‘Sir, when will you be coming this way again?
For if you are coming this way tomorrow,
Then we will play the game over again.’

And thus where a woman can conquer a man.

 

        Another song of hidden meanings, and one that is especially popular with southern English Gypsy singers, including Levi Smith and Tom Willett. The earliest known text was issued in London by John Pitts sometime during the first quarter of the 19th century, although the song itself may be slightly older. Quoting Hoyle’s Rules of Games, Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger say that All Fours is an ancient card game that is still played in England, ‘though it is not as popular as it was at the turn of the (20th) century. It is one of a large family of card games in which the ace is high and the jack low. The object is to win High, Low, Jack and (therefore) the Game. Although All Fours went to the United States under various titles (Seven-Up, Old Sledge, High-Low-Jack, Pitch), the song does not appear to have followed.’ There is, apparently, an epitaph in the church at St. Ives, in Cambridgeshire, which reads:

        Here lies the body of All Fours
        Who spent his money and pawned his clothes
        If anyone should ask for his name
        Tell them ‘tis high, low, jack and game.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Young Billy Taylor

Young Billy Taylor was a smart young fellow,
But he was a false and deceitful young man;
And tomorrow morning he’s going to be married,
To a girl in our town.

So if you get up tomorrow morning,
Just before the break of day;
Then you’ll see your young Billy Taylor,
Walking with his lady gay.

A brace of pistols she did call for,
A brace of pistols to her command;
And there she shot that young Billy Taylor,
With his bride on his right hand.

 

        In this well-known broadside ballad, William Taylor is engaged to be married, but is taken by the press gang and sent to sea. His bride-to-be dresses up as a sailor and follows after in search of William /Billy. Eventually finding him, she discovers that he has a new girlfriend - or new wife in some versions - and so she shoots him dead. The ballad, surprisingly, concludes with the girl being made an officer:

        And then our Captain was well pleased,
        He was well pleased with what she had done.
        Soon she became a bold Commander,
        Over the Captain and his men.

Lucy Broadwood traced the ballad to a late 18th century stage song, ‘as sung by Mr.Bannister, Junr., at Several Theatres with great applause’, although Cecil Sharp (who collected a dozen versions in England) felt that the final verse was only added towards the end of the 19th century. Sophie’s version, as sometimes happens, is incomplete.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dark-eyed sailor

‘Twas of a comely young lady fair,
Walked out one day for to take the air;
She meet with a sailor all on her way,
And to them I paid attention,
To them I paid attention,
To hear what they did say.

Says William, ‘Lady, why roam alone,
Since night have come and the day’s near gone?’
She says, while tears from her eyes did fall,
‘It’s my dark eyed sailor,
It’s my dark eyed sailor,
That proves of my downfall.

It’s three long years since he left this land,
An’ I took a gold ring all from my hand;
We broke the token and I part with he,
And now the other’s rolling,
And now the other’s rolling,
At the bottom of the sea.’

Says William, ‘Drive him now from your mind,
There’s another sailor as good you’ll find.’
Those words it drew her fond heart in flame,
She says, ‘On me you shall play no game,’
She drew her dagger and thus did cry,
‘For my dark eyed sailor,
For my dark eyed sailor,
A maid I’d live and die.

His jet black eyes and his curly hair,
And his pleasing tongue did my heart ensnare;
Gentle and kind, not a skulk like you,
To try and entice a maiden,
To try to entice a maiden,
To slight a jacket blue.’

It was of the ring then did William drew,
And she seemed distressed amidst joy and woe,
Saying, ‘Welcome William, o’er land and gold
Is for my dark eyed sailor,
Is for my dark eyed sailor,
So manly, true and bold.’

Now down in the village, down by the sea,
They lives in wedlock and happy be;
Now all girls be true, while your love’s away,
For oft in a cloudy morning,
Oft in a cloudy morning,
Brings forth a sunshine day.

 

        Charlotte’s version of this ‘broken token’ ballad is strikingly similar, both textually and melodically, to a set collected by Cecil Sharp on 9 January, 1904, from one William Nott, of Meshaw in Devonshire. The idea of the ‘broken ring’ goes back to Homer - who used the idea in The Odyssey - and forms a central part of the ballad Hind Horn (Child 17), although the song The Dark Eyed Sailor probably only dates from the end of the eighteenth century. It was published on a number of nineteenth century broadsides and has been collected extensively.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stepdance tuning 1

Cock a doodle
I went out in a boat one day,
The boat began to rock;
The little fish it jumped up,
And bit off the end of me

Cock a doodle, cock a doodle,
Lost the leg of me drawers;
If you catch them, iron and starch them,
Send them back to the Boers.

Being a chick
Being a chick as big as a hen,
My mother hit me and I hit her again;
The father come in to order me out,
And I picked up a poker and knocked his eye out.

Navvie on the line
I’m married for a skipper of the navvie on the line
Five and twenty bob a week beside me overtime;
The navvies likes the maidens,
And the maidens likes the fun;
There’s nothing like a navvy,
When the railway’s on.
Roast beef, boiled beef,
Pudding made with eggs,
Along came a navvie with a pair of wooden legs,
Legs like broom sticks, belly like a drum,
It’s damn the bugger the navvie
When the railway’s done.

 

        Tuning, the use of short sung verses to accompany step-dancing when there is no other instrument available, comes in various forms. Some singers use nonsense rhymes. Here Sophie either uses verses attached to well-known tunes, Cock-a-Doodle is sung to Cock o’ the North and Being a chick to The Irish Washerwoman, or else uses part of a complete song, in this case Navvie on the Line. Reference to the Boer War in Cock-a-Doodle may date this piece to c.1880 - 1902.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thorneymoor Woods

In Thorneymoor Woods near Buckinghamshire,
There was three keepers, they lived near;
They don’t live a mile from each others door,
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

Me and my dogs went out one night,
Right fol ladity, right fol lay,
Me and my dogs went out one night
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

O’er hedges, ditches, gates and stiles,
With my three dogs close after my heels;
We’ll catch a fat buck in Thorneymoor Fields,
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

The very first night we had bad luck,
My very best dog his heart got struck,
My very best dog, he got struck,
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

He came to me both bloody and lame,
I said, ‘You’re not fit to follow the game.’
I said, ‘You’re not fit to follow the game.’
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

I searched his wounds, I found they were slight,
That some damn keeper that’s done it for spite;
That some damn keeper has done it for spite,
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

I’ll take my pike staff in my hand,
And I’ll range those woods till I find that man;
And I’ll hammer his head well if I can,
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

I searched those woods all that night,
I searched those woods until the daylight;
I searched those woods until the daylight,
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

The very first thing that ever I found,
It was a large fat buck lay dead on the ground;
And I said, ‘My dog gave you your death wound,’
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

You would have laughed to see poor limping Jack,
To see how he stood with that buck on his back;
He was like a Yorkshire man with a pack,
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

Now the very first joint I offered for sale,
It was to an old cook that brewed bad ale;
And it was the old bugger gave me six months in jail,
Right fol de dol diddle dol day.

And now my trial is drawing near,
And to the Justices’ meeting I have to appear;
And when my trial has gone and passed,
That damned old judge can kiss my arse.

 

        According to the folklorist A.L.Lloyd, ‘The mother of folklore is poverty.’ and according to James Hawker, a noted 19th century poacher, ‘Poverty made me poach’. Writing in his book The Making of the English Working Class (1963), E.P. Thompson had this to say about Britain’s notorious game laws which, indirectly, gave rise to a number of poaching songs: ‘Game Laws, with their paraphernalia of gamekeepers, spring-guns, mantraps and (after 1816) sentences of transportation: all served, directly or indirectly, to tighten the screw upon the labourer. ’Government in late 18th century England was only too aware that events in France could spill over into England and so restrictions, including the enclosure of once common land, were placed onto the labouring class in an attempt to prevent the spread of Revolution. In the words of the poet Oliver Goldsmith:

        Each wanton judge new penal statutes draw,
        Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law.

In the 1790’s Thornehaugh-Moor Woods, also known as Thorney Moor Fields or Thorney Wood Chase, in the Hundred of Newark, Nottinghamshire and once part of Sherwood Forest, was enclosed. Twenty-odd years later the London broadside printer John Pitts issued our present song on a broadside, titled The Lads of Thorney Moor Woods, which still remains popular with Gypsy singers today. Like many other poaching songs, Thorneymoor Woods has seldom travelled outside England, although there is a set in Mary O. Eddy’s Ballads and Songs from Ohio (1939).

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The farmer and the lady

Blue waistcoats and trousers that lady put on,
An’ away she went a-hunting with her dogs and her gun;
She went into the fields where the farmer used to go,
Three times she did fire, but nothing did she kill,
Three times she did fire, but nothing did she kill.

Then into the field, that farmer did go,
Then she went and made the alarm that she had lost her purse;
And if any man can find it and bring it to me,
And if he is not married his bride I will be.

So when that young farmer he heard of the news,
Straight to that lady that farmer did go;
Saying lady of your honour I’ve found your purse,
And now will you grant to me your kinder propose.

That’s already made now that lady did say,
For I love the sweet breath of a farmering man;
To be missus of my dairy, go milking my cow,
While my jolly young farmer goes whistling out to plough.

 

        Known variously as The Squire of Tamworth or Dog and Gun, Charlotte’s version of this well known song is lacking the usual opening, in which a squire asks a girl’s hand in marriage. The girl agrees and a young farmer is chosen to give the girl away. Unfortunately, the girl falls in love with the farmer and has to think up a plan whereby she can gain his love, rather than the love of the squire. This is the point where Charlotte begins her song which, like all good versions, ends with the couple marrying. The song was known to Timothy Connor, a prisoner of war in England during the American Revolutionary War, who wrote the words down in a notebook sometime between the years 1777 and 1779, and numerous broadside printers helped to keep the song alive during the nineteenth century. According to Robert Bell, in his Songs of the Peasantry (1857) the song was ‘ traditionally reported to be founded on an incident which occurred in the reign of Elizabeth’, although Bell was unable to actually trace any such incident.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The Crabfish

Oh fisherman, fisherman, one, two, three,
Have you got a she crab you can sell to me;
Oh yes sir, yes sir, one, two, three,
I’ve got a she crab I can sell to thee.

I catched the little fellow up by the back bone,
And put him in a bag and marched away home;
Singing Jimmy ing a ding a ding, Jimmy ing a ding a ding,
And the wind blew clear in the merry morning.

When I got home my wife was asleep,
And I put him in the chamber alive to keep;
Singing Jimmy ing a ding a ding, Jimmy ing a ding a ding,
And the wind blew fair in the merry morning.

My wife got out to do what she wants,
And the crab jumped up and caught her by the - ;
Jimmy ing a ding a ding, Jimmy ing a ding a ding,
And the wind blew fair in the merry morning.

‘Oh John, Oh John, there’s something wrong,
The Devil’s in the chamber a-poking up his horns,’
Singing Jimmy ing a ding a ding, Jimmy ing a ding a ding,
And the wind blew fair in the merry morning.

‘Oh wife, oh wife, you must be mad,
If you can’t tell the Devil from a little she crab,’
Singing Jimmy ing a ding a ding, Jimmy ing a ding a ding,
And the wind blew fair in the merry morning.

So I took the chamber and missus took the broom,
And we marched the little fellow right out of the room,
Singing Jimmy ing a ding a ding, Jimmy ing a ding a ding,
And the wind blew fair in the merry morning.

 

        This goodwiffe was bigbellyed, & with a lad,
        & euer shee longed ffor a sea crabbe

 

        This humorous song, concerning the adventures of a pregnant wife with a craving for a crab, appeared in Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript, where it is titled The Sea Crabb. The manuscript was probably compiled sometime between 1620 and 1650 and the song is based on an earlier prose tale that was known in various forms throughout Europe and the Middle East. The earliest known text is an Italian version, told by Franco Sacchetti, c.1330 - 1400, that was reprinted by Gaetano Poggiali in 1815. In the 1760’s Charles Churchill, a London man-of-letters, turned the story into a long narrative poem, The Crab, that is far removed from Charlotte Renals’ more down-to-earth treatment of the story. For a number of centuries the tale /song appeared to have been the exclusive property of male performers, although this had changed by the beginning of the 20th century, when Cecil Sharp collected versions from Mrs. Emma Overd, of Langport, in Somerset, and Mrs. Kathleen Williams, of Puddlebrook in Herefordshire.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A man from the north (Outlandish Knight)

There was a man come from the North land,
He came here one day unto me;
He said he would take me back to the North land,
And that’s where he would marry me, marry me,
That’s where he would marry me.

You get me some of your mother’s food,
And some of your father’s gold;
And take me tonight to your father’s stable, where nags do stand thirty and three, where nags do stand thirty and three,
You take me tonight to your father’s stable where nags do stand thirty and three.

I got him some of my mother’s food, and some of my father’s gold;
I took him that night to my father’s stable, where nags do stand thirty and three.
Now tongue now tone my pretty Polly, now tongue now tone cried he,
Till he came down by the wide river side, those words that he shouted to me.

Pull out, pull out my pretty Polly, Pull out, pull out cried he;
For six pretty maidens I have drowned here,
The seventh now you shall be, the seventh now you shall be,
For six pretty maidens I have drowned here, the seventh now you shall be.

You take me off your rich silk gown, And hand them over to me;
For it looks a pity such fine gowns as that,
To be rotted all in the salt sea, the salt sea,
To be rotted all in the salt sea.

‘You turn your back to the facing of me, in viewing those flowers so gay,
For it isn’t a-fitting such ruffian as you, for a naked young woman to see.’
He turned his back to the facing of her, in viewing those flowers so gay,
She put her arms around his waist, and bundled him in the salt sea, the salt sea,
She bundled him in the salt sea.

‘Oh, take me out my pretty Polly, oh, take me out,’ cried he,
‘Oh, take me out my pretty Polly,
My bride then you will be, will be,
My bride now you will be.’

‘Lie there, lie there, you false hearted man, lie there in the place of me;
For six pretty maidens you have drowned here,
But the seventh have drownded thee, the seventh have drownded thee,
For six pretty maidens you have drowned here, but the seventh have drownded thee.’

She mounted on her lily white steed, an’ got hold of her dapple grey;
She got back to her father’s house, three hours before it was day;
‘Now don’t you flitter, now flutter Polly,
Nor tell no tales on me, your cage shall be made of the glittering gold,
And your door of the best ivory, your door of the best ivory,
Your cage shall be made of the glittering gold, and your door of the best ivory.’

 

        Scholars call this The Outlandish Knight and it can be traced directly to a German broadside of c.1550, although it was known as a tale long before that date. In many European versionsof the ballad there is an episode that has all but vanished from our present story. As the eloping couple reach the waterside, the man persuades the girl to stop beneath a tree. She is asked not to look up into the tree’s branches, but is asked, instead, to de-louse the man’s hair. As she is complying, she glances up into the branches where she sees the severed heads of his previous victims. Thus warned, she is able to outsmart her would-be murderer. This scene is also depicted on wall-paintings in a number of medieval churches in parts of eastern Europe (especially in Hungary and Slovakia), where the man is either depicted as St. Ladislas, an 11th century King of Hungary, or else as a Tartar or Scythian warrior. Scholars now believe that thestory probably originated in the Steppes of Russia or Mongolia, long before the birth of Christ, and one image of the de-lousing scene, preserved as part of the design of a gold-plated sword scabbard and dated to c.300 BC, is now housed in Russia’s Hermitage Museum. Most recently collected versions of the ballad stem, indirectly, from a broadside published in London by John Pitts during the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Just beginning to sprout

Once I proposed to a nice young girl,
Who stood about six foot three,
And when I said, Marry me, Mary Ann,’
She turned around and she said young man,
‘I’d marry you here upon the spot but you’re only four foot two.’
‘O that’s no difference,’ I cried out, ‘I don’t mind telling you,
I’m just beginning to spout, to sprout, I’m just beginning to sprout,
The doctor says in a month or more then I shall grow up and be six foot four,
So if you’ll marry me now, without the slightest doubt,
I’m not so short as you think I am. I’m just beginning to sprout.’

Now I’m a fellow that takes a delight in making me home look nice,
At the back of our house I do declare, we have such a lovely garden there,
I’ve planted seeds all round about and they do look nice and pat,
We haven’t exactly got any flowers but none the more for that.
They’re just beginning to sprout, to sprout, they’re just beginning to sprout,
You want to gaze on our lovely peas, carrots, runners and cabbages,
Talk about the turnip tops, they are a fair knockout,
And although the rhubarb isn’t in bloom, it’s just beginning to sprout.
It’s just beginning to sprout, to sprout, just beginning to sprout,
And although the rhubarb isn’t in bloom, it’s just beginning to sprout.

Now I have a complexion quite compare with all the girls I see,
And everyone they cry, ‘Great Scott, what a lovely face you’ve got.’
Lovely eyes, beautiful hair, and every thing parade,
But the dear, little wart on the back of my neck I notice yesterday,
Was just beginning to sprout, to sprout, was just beginning to sprout,
The girls keep kissing me all the day trying to charm that wart away,
They kiss me on the back of the neck, and they make me laugh and shout,
In fact they do what they like with me for I’m just beginning to sprout.

 

        It is not often that a song crops up that can’t be identified but this is one such song. It is more than likely to have come from the English Music Hall,, but who wrote it and when has eluded us.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Sailor cut down in his prime

Down by the dark orchards I went for a walk love,
Dark was the night and so dull was the day,
Whom should I see then but one of our shipmates,
Wrapped up in flannel, much colder than clay.

I called for a candle to light him to bed love,
Likewise a flannel to bind round his head,
His poor head was aching, his kind heart was breaking,
It shows of a young man cut down in his prime.

On that crossroad there were two flash girls standing,
One to the other they whispered and said,
‘Here comes a young man whose money been squandering,
Money have brought him to his solemn grave.’

My dear aged father, my poor aged mother,
They often times told me it would bring me to ruin,
Along with the flash girls I took great delight in,
Now they have brought me to my solemn grave.

Now when I am dead and lying in my coffin,
Each one of you that follow take a warning by me,
Each one of you that follow carry a bunch of primroses,
A bunch of primroses, each one in your hand.

Beat the drums merrily play the pipes cheerily,
Play the Dead March as you carry me on,
Take me to the churchyard fire six volleys over me,
It will show I’m a young man cut down in my prime.

Now on my tombstone there’ll be three verses written,
All you young men take a warning by me,
Don’t you never go a-courting the girls of the city,
Pray stay at home and keep good company.

 

        This highly popular song began life in late 18th-century Ireland as The Unfortunate Rake, and tells the story of a young man’s downfall. In most cases the lad is dying from syphilis, although in later American versions, such as the well-known Streets of Laredo, he is killed in a gunfight. Most English versions have the man as either a sailor or a soldier (although one version, collected by Cecil Sharp in 1909, had the victim as a ‘comely maiden’). A mid-19th century broadside issued by Henry Parker Such of south London includes the following verse, which alludes to the young man’s condition:

 

        Had she but told me when she disordered me,
        Had she but told me of it in time,
        I might have got salts and pills of white mercury,
        But now I’m cut down in the height of my prime.

 

The song has also become something of a jazz classic, under the title St. James’ Infirmary.


Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Van Dieman’s land


Me and five more went out one night,
All in Squire Daniel’s park;
For to catch some game it was our intent,
But a night it did prove dark;
And we were apprehended there by speed,
And brought back to Northampton Gaol.

And there tonight till our trials come on,
And our bodies to be sold;
And we were sent for fourteen years,
Across to Van Diemen’s Land.

We were nine long months and better boys,
A-ploughing the raging sea;
No port nor harbour did we draw nigh,
Nor no place could we seem;
Only the dark and the deep blue sea all round,
And above is our blue sky.

We had no shoes nor stockings on,
Nor scarce any clothes to wear;
Only lindsey drawers and leather [clogs?]
And our head and feet went bare.

 

        The background to this song has been researched by Roy Palmer, who tells us that in 1828, ‘it was enacted that if three men were found in a wood and one of them carried a gun or bludgeon, all were liable to be transported for fourteen years,’ and it would seem that the broadside text (first printed c.1830) was issued partly as a warning to young men who might be tempted into a life of poaching. Van Dieman’s Land was an early term for the island of Tasmania, and British convicts were transported there from 1804 until 1852.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Jim the carter lad

I am Jim the carter lad and a merry sport am I.
I’m always contented if the weather’s wet or dry;
I crack my fingers at the snow and I whistle at the rain,
I’ve braved the storm for many a day and I can do the same again.

Chorus
Crack, crack goes my whip I whistle and I sing,
I sit upon the wagon as happy as a king;
My horse is always willing, as for me I’m never sad,
And none can lead a jollier life than Jim the carter lad.

My father was a wagoner many years before I was born,
He used to rise at daybreak and do his rounds each morn;
And then he’d take me with him and especially in the spring,
I’d love to sit upon the cart and hear my father sing.

Chorus
Crack, crack goes my whip I whistle and I sing,
I sit upon the wagon as happy as a king;
My horse is always willing, as for me I’m never sad,
And there’s none can lead a jollier life than Jim the carter lad.

The girls they all smile on me as I go driving past,
My horse is such a beauty and she jogs along so fast;
I’ve travelled for many a weary mile and happy hours we’ve had,
And none can lead a jollier life than Jim the carter lad.

 

        Well-known throughout England. There are a handful of sightings from America and Gavin Greig found the song being sung in Aberdeenshire. Greig called it, ‘A cheery lay with a healthy sentiment’ and agreed with others that, ‘it is English and comparatively modern; but it has become traditional.’ Sophie’s tune is not one usually associated with the song (and seems, in fact, to be a speeded up version of the tune normally associated with the transportation song Jamie Raeburn). Listeners seeking out the ‘usual’ tune are referred to Tony Harvey’s set on Songs Sung in Suffolk (Veteran VTC2CD).

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The Beggar

There was a poor old beggar man,
Come tripling over the plain;
He called into a farmhouse,
Some lodgings for to gain.

Chorus
Rove along, rove a-lee,
Rove a-rangle rover thee.

The old farmer he came out,
And he searched the beggar around;
He said you are a dirty beggar man,
And no lodgings can be found.
Chorus

Then the daughter she came out,
And she searched the beggar around;
She says he’s not a dirty beggar,
And so lodgings can be found.
Chorus

She took him into the barn,
And she made him a bed with hay;
She made it soft and easy,
And along with him she lay.
Chorus

She rose early next morning,
Before the break of day;
She took him into her father’s house,
To make him a cup of tea.
Chorus

The old farmer he came down,
He began to curse and swear;
He picked hold of the beggar’s bag,
And he dashed it against the wall;
May the Devil have the beggar’s bag,
And make them fair and all.
Chorus

 

        Charlotte’s song is somewhat removed from the texts printed by Professor Child in his balladcollection, though it is similar to versions collected by Cecil Sharp in the early 1900’s. Child’s earliest text, dated 1769, comes from Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scots Songs, although notes in other collections suggest that it may be slightly older. Sabine Baring-Gould informed Professor Child that the song was well-known throughout Cornwall and Devon and supplied Child with broadside sets, which carried titles such as The Jovial Tinker and Farmer’s Daughter. Sharp noted no fewer than ten versions, one of which, collected on Christmas Day, 1905, from Abraham Lawrence of Ilminster, Somerset, is close to our present set.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lonely widow

I’m a lonely widow,
Yes and you can plainly see;
I’m looking out for number two,
To share his love with me.
Now for a loving husband,
Yes my best I will contrive;
As long as he’s over seventeen,
And under ninety five.

I’ll make a loving wife,
Yes I will on my life;
For I’m just as good as ever I was,
Twenty years ago.
I’ve been searching everywhere,
Trying to find a beau;
Will anyone would like to marry me,
I’m the mother of twenty two;
Not so young as I used to be
But I’m just as good as new.

Now I had the offer yesterday,
To be a blushing bride;
At nine o clock he saw me face,
And ten o clock he died.
My roman nose and ruby lips,
The young men they all praise;
From squeezing me slender waist,
And broke the whalebone of my stays.

Don’t miss a chance like this,
For my face is full of bliss;
But the lucky man that wins my heart,
Must have no end of quits.
Comes straight form work at night,
And helps to bath the kids;
And then if he behaves himself,
And don’t give me no cheek;
I’ll let him have a penny shave,
And a Woodbine once a week.

So don’t let me ask in vain,
Here I’ll tell you once again;
I’m just as good as ever I was,
Twenty years ago.
I’ve been searching everywhere,
Trying to find a beau;
Would anyone like to marry me,
I’m the mother of twenty two;
Not so young as I used to be,
But I’m just as good as new.

 

        The only reference to I’m not as young as I used to be is that it was sung for the first time by the Music Hall artiste J. W. Rickaby in 1921 when he was on tour in South Africa. Jim Rickaby came to prominence in1914 when he sang his most famous song They built Piccadilly for me, when his stage appearance was described as: ‘clad in raiment to make you laugh the moment he came on the stage as a poor, broken-down old swell - seedy tail-coat, battered old topper, frayed boots and spats, trousers ditto and a pair of glove minus the finger tips, which he carefully pulled on and off.’ (from Stars who made the Halls (1946), S. Theodore Felstead).

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The bonny bunch of roses

One morning on the middle ocean,
In the merry month of June;
I heard a damsel talking,
Her sorrows it was grief and woe.
She was consulting with young Bonyparte,
Saying beware of the bonny bunch of rosies o.

Now when we got into Moscow,
Our army was covered in drifts and snow;
And Moscow was a-blazing,
So we turned back broken hearted,
We had lost to the bonny bunch of rosies o.

Up stepped the son to his mother,
He catched her all by the lily white hand;
Saying Mother dear have patience,
You’ll wait until I do grow a man.

I will gain you a terrible army,
Of fifteen hundred thousand men;
And kings and princes shall join me,
I will gain you the bonny bunch of rosies o.

My son don’t you talk so venturesly,
For England is the heart of oak;
There is England, Ireland and Scotland,
Their thrones they never have been broke.

And Bonyparte was your father,
In St Helena his body lies low;
You may soon follow after him,
So beware of the bonny bunch of rosies o.’

Now when I am dead and buried,
And the weeping willow growing over my head;
And the song of the throne shall be singed,
Beware of the bonny bunch of rosies o.

 

        The French Wars, 1793 to 1815, affected British life in many ways. The spectre of Napoleon Bonaparte, liberator or tyrant (depending on one’s viewpoint) fell across all classes of society and spawned many songs and ballads. The Bonny Bunch of Roses, one such song, is almost certainly of Irish origin, although it has remained highly popular outside Ireland. It is based on a supposed conversation between Marie Louise of Austria, Bonaparte’s second wife, and her son Napoleon II, and refers to the 1800 Act of Union. According to historian Vic Gammon, ‘The song certainly is cast in the form of a warning against ambition but it is not a celebration of English military prowess.’ Charlotte, in common with most other English singers, sings the song to the Irish tune An Beinsin Luachra, which means The Little Bunch of Rushes.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catch me if you can

It was early, early all in the spring,
Down in those meadows growing green;
A fair young lady I chanced to see,
And I ask if she would walk with me.

I ask her if she would walk with me,
Down in those meadows oh so green;
I’d show her flowers and pretty things,
And I’d show her what she had never seen.

As that young couple went strolling along
He sang to her some sweet, pretty songs;
He sang to her some sweet, pretty songs,
And soon he gained her favour.

Now since you had your will of me,
And stolen away my sweet liberty;
You have stolen away my sweet liberty,
Will you please tell me your name, sir.

My name is catch me that’s if you can,
I’ll marry you when I return;
I’ll marry you when I return,
I’m going across the wide ocean.

Now three long months they had gone and passed,
And six long months he never returned;
Nine long months it had come at last,
And the child has got no father.

Now I’ll search this wide world around and round,
And I’ll find that young man if I can;
I’ll find that young man if I can,
If I catch him at his pleasure.

 

        In the ballad The Knight and the Shepherd’s Daughter (Child 110) a knight rapes a girl in a field. She then asks him his name and he replies with a pseudonym. The knight then makes off, pursued by the girl who manages to confront him again, this time in front of the King. The knight confesses what he has done and is ordered by the King to marry the girl, apparently to her delight! Catch Me if You Can tells more or less the same story, except that the young man makes off before the girl can establish his true identity. Again, it is a song that has remained popular with west-country Gypsies, including Eddie Penfold, a singer who had moved to Sussex when I met him in the 1970’s.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The farmer from Leicester

There was an old farmer in Leicester,
Had a daughter to market did go;
She was never afraid of no danger,
‘Cos she’d been on the highway before.

Till she met with a bold and young robber,
Six chamber he held to her breast;
Saying, ‘Deliver your money and clothing,
Or else you shall die in distress.’

He stripped the young damsel stark naked,
And the bridle rein gave her to hold;
And there she’s such shivering and shaking,
And starving to death with the cold.

She put her left foot in the stirrup,
And she mounted her horse like a man;
Over hedges and ditches she galloped,
Saying, ‘Catch me bold rogue if you can.’

She rode to the gates of her father’s,
And shouted all over the farm;
Saying, ‘Dear father I’ve been in great danger,
But the rogue he have done me no harm.’

She pulled her gray mare in the stable,
And she spread her white sheet on the floor;
And counted the money twice over,
There were three thousand pounds if not more.

 

        The Farmer of Leicester (some singers call it The Farmer of Chester) and another song The Boy and the Highwayman are related to the ballad of The Crafty Farmer (Child 283), in which a farmer outwits a would-be robber. All three songs date to the 18th century and basically use a common 17th century tune, The Rant, which was better known as Give Ear to a Frolicksome Ditty in ballad operas. According to the folklorist Sam Richards, Betsy’s song was used by Gypsy singers to establish boundaries when they came into contact with non-Gypsies; the Travellers feeling that, like the heroine of the song, they too were equal to any potential threat that might develop.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stepdance tuning 2

Fiddling and dancing in the clover,
All fine dancing on the green;
Fiddling and dancing in the clover,
When I was a young girl about sixteen.

Rally up, o rally up, rally up a ride o
A poor man’s labour is never done.

I come home both wet and weary,
No dry clothes to put on,
My wife laid abed till the sun shines on her,
Turn her all out with no ? kettle on

Diddling tune 1 /Diddling tune 2

 

        Here Betsy demonstrates a number of tunes used for step-dancing which incorporate both sung verses and nonsense syllables. Jasper Smith and his brother Levi Smith, Gypsies from south-east England, can be heard performing Kick it Away You Pretty Boys (Jasper calls it Step it Away) on the Topic CD My Father’s the King of the Gypsies (TSCD 661).

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The old miser

Well there was an old miser near London did dwell,
And he had but one daughter that a sailor loved well;
And when the old miser he was out of the way,
She was with the young sailor by night and by day.

Now when that old miser he came for to know,
Straight to the ship’s captain, straight away he did go;
Saying, ‘Captain, bold captain, good news I’ve to tell,
I have got your little sailor as a transport to sell.’

Now when that young damsel she came for to know,
Straight to the ship’s captain, straight away she did go;
Saying, ‘Captain, bold captain, bad news I’ve been told,
You’ve a-got my young sailor as a transport been sold.’

Now her hand in her pocket she drew handfuls of gold,
And on the round table where she did it throw;
Saying, ‘Captain, bold captain, all that I’ll give you,
For my young sailor, my rights and my beau.’

‘Oh, no,’ said the captain, such a thing can’t be done,
Your father have sold him as a transport to me;
And I’ll send him a-sailing right over the main,
And he’ll never come in old England for to court you again.’

‘Here’s a curse to my father, wherever he be,
For all in his own heart he have quite ruined me;
I’ll go back in our little cottage, and it’s there I will stay,
For to mourn for my sailor who will send far away.’

 

        Singers have this song in two forms. The first begins with the line, ‘There was an old miser in London did dwell’, while in the second the girl has become, ‘a silkmerchant’s daughter’. Singers in southern England (including Harry Cox, Walter Pardon, Mary Ann Haynes and Chris Willett) have preferred the first version, but Scottish and American singers seem to have chosen the second. Betsy’s version is somewhat truncated. In longer versions the girl, disguised as a sailor, follows her love to sea. The ship is lost and the survivors draw lots to decide which person should be killed to provide food for the others. (Shades of the ballad Bonnie Annie - Child 24 - here). The girl is chosen, but, having revealed who she is, her true love (who had previously failed to recognise her!) offers to take her place. Luckily, a rescue ship is sighted before the lad is killed and the couple later marry.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Down by the Shannon side

It was in the month of April and early in the morn,
The cowslips and the violets were growing in the long;
The flowery, flowery mantle it decked the fields with pride,
When I meet with a lovely damsel down by the Shannon side.

‘Good morning to you sweetheart.’ all unto her I cried,
‘Where are you going so early now, where are you going this way?’
‘I’m going to see my father’s sheep,
Down by the Shannon side.’

But she said, ‘Young man excuse me my parents would be annoyed,
If I am seen with any man down by the Shannon side.’
‘I will chance myself in transport to you I’ll give a kiss.’
She said, Young man be civil what do you mean by this?’

The ground was mossy where they stood, their feet from them did slide,
And they both fall down together, down by the Shannon side.
Now three times he kissed her rosy cheeks, as she lay on the grass,
And when she came to herself again she cried out for the love.

Now we both shook hands and parted and from her I did steer,
We hadn’t parted many months not more than half a year;
Before he was crossing mossy banks my love I chanced to see,
She was scarcely able for to walk down by the Shannon side.

I pretend to take no notice and steered all on my way,
My love she turned her head aside those words to me did say;
‘Don’t never forget the poor young girl,
Down by the Shannon side.

And since you’ve had your will of me, make me your lawful bride,
Don’t never you leave me here to mourn, down by the Shannon side;
There is fifty pounds all in bright gold my father will provide,
And sixty acres of good land down by the Shannon side.’

I said, ‘My pretty fair girl I love your offer well,
But I am engaged already the truth to you I’ll tell;
It’s to a fair young lady who wishes to be my bride,
She’s a wealthy grazier’s daughter down by the Shannon side.’

‘Now if you cannot marry me pray tell me then your name,
And when my baby it is born I may call it the same.’
‘My name is Captain Walters, my name I will never deny,
While I have men to guide me on yonder mountain side.’

Now the tears like crystal fountains now down her cheeks did slide,
Saying, ‘I hope this will be a warning to all young girls beside,
And never to trust you now young man,
Down by the Shannon side.’

 

        Once a widely-known song. Cecil Sharp collected nine versions in the west of England and Superintendent Ord of the Glasgow police said that it was ‘common all over the North-east of Scotland’ (Bothy Songs and Ballads. 1930). Originally an Irish song, some later singers localised the song’s setting (Frank Kidson found it being sung in parts of Yorkshire as Down By the Derwent Side,for example), while some singers, including the Gypsy singer Phoebe Smith, called it Captain Thunderbolt. Charlotte’s version fills in some of the details that singers such as Phoebe had lost.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Standard bread

Bread, bread, bread, a little bit of bread,
I’ve got to do the washing the old gal said;
Like a lion she began to scrub,
Pushed my shirt through the bottom of the tub,

Six months washing was done in half a jiff,
And when she went to bed;
In her arms she had the copper and the mangle,
And the chopper and a little bit of standard bread.

My old woman was a weak as any wren,
She couldn’t beat a table cloth, she couldn’t shake a mat;
If she had a little drop to put her on her feet,
She hadn’t strength to water, she’d have to drink it neat.

One day I heard the lodger say, standard bread was nice,
She’d feel as strong as Sampson if she’d only have one slice;
So she had one slice and the poor old soul, her strength she hardly knew,
She pushed her lodger up the stairs and shoved me up the flue.

Bread, bread, bread, a little bit of bread,
I’ve got to do the washing the old gal said,
Like a lion she began to scrub,
Pushed my shirt through the bottom of the tub,

Six months washing was done if half a jiff,
And when she went to bed;
In her arms she had the copper and the mangle,
And the chopper and a little bit of standard bread.

 

        The Music Hall song Standard Bread was popularised by the singer Harry Champion (1866 - 1942), who recorded it for two different record companies in 1911. Champion, who was best known for singing songs such as I’m Henry the Eighth I Am, Boiled Beef and Carrots and Any Old Iron, was famous for his ability to sing his songs at breakneck speed and Charlotte’s spirited rendition is no doubt based on one of Harry’s recordings. Harry himself can be heard singing the song on the reissue CD Harry Champion - Cockney Bill of London Town (Windyridge CDR3).

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



More trouble in our native land

Far, far away on the banks of the Nile,
Thousands of miles from his own green isle;
A young Irish soldier, a gallant dragoon
Read his mother’s letter by the light of the moon.

He strolled from the camp that little note to read,
The news that was on it made his stout heart bleed;
The tears rolled down his sun burnt cheeks, dropping on that letter in his hand,
Saying, ‘Is it true, true, true, more trouble in our native land.’

It told how his mother could not pay her way,
The agents came to her one dark, dreary day;
To burn down her cabin, all the trifle she owned,
That widow and her children she was cast in the road.

Although she had one son, a gallant dragoon,
He was a soldier and too far from home;
For while Pat was fighting at the head of the band,
His mother she was starving in her own native land.

It told how a neighbour and a great friend in need,
Gave her some shelter in her great hour of need
Gave her some shelter where the lights were burning bright
That widow and her children they shed tears of delight.

‘I know I’m doing wrong,’ that poor old woman said,
‘Giving you this shelter in my old humble shed
But with all my heart you’re welcome,’ that poor old creature sighed,
‘And my home shall be yours till your son here returns.’

So the tears rolled down his sun burnt cheek,
Dropping on that letter in his hand,
Saying, ‘Is it true, true, true,
There’s be more trouble in our native land.’

 

Many singers call this Far, Far Away on the Banks of the Nile. It was written c.1875 by an Irishman, Tom McGuire, and popularised in the Music Halls by Dan Crawley (1872 -1912). At least one publisher - Charles Sanderson of Edinburgh - printed the words on a broadside.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Lord Lovell

‘Where are you going Lord Lovell?’ she said,
‘Where are you going?’ said she,
‘I’m going my Lady Nancy Bella,
Strange country for to see.’

‘When will you be back, Lord Lovell?’ she said,
‘When will you be back?’ said she.
‘In a year or two, or three at the most,
I’ll return to my Lady Nancy.’

He hadn’t been gone but a year and a day,
Strange country for to see,
When a sounding thought came to his mind,
Lady Nancy Bella did see.

He rode and he rode his milk white steed,
And he came through London Town,
And there he heard St Peter’s bells,
And the people all mourning round.

‘Oh what is the matter?’ Lord Lovell said,
‘Oh what is the matter?’ said he,
‘A lady is dead,’ a woman replied,
‘Some calls her Lady Nancy.’

Lady Nancy she died as it may be today,
Lord Loval he died tomorrow,
Lady Nancy was buried at the lower church yard,
And he was buried at the tower.

And on one’s grave grew a red rose bud,
And the other was leaves and flowers,
That red rose tree it grew so high,
It grew to the church yard tower,
And on the top of the true love’s knot,
That all true love’s admired.

 

        Although known from a version in the 18th century Percy Papers, most versions of this ballad can be traced to a broadside printed in London in 1848 (Child’s version ‘H’). Robert Bell, in his Early Ballads Illustrative of History, Traditions and Customs (1877) mentions a black letter broadside dating from the times of Charles II and suggests that the ballad’s hero could have been a member of the Loveles or Delavelles Family of Northumberland mentioned in the Ballad of Chevy Chase (Child 162). There were numerous Music Hall parodies, such as Sam Cowell’s Joe Muggins, and one Vauxhall Gardens’ singer included the following verse in a otherwise more-or-less straight version of the song:

       

        Then he flung his self down by the side of the corpse,
        With a shivering gulp and a guggle,
        Gave two hops, three kicks, heaved a sigh, blew his nose,
        Sung a song and then died in the struggle - uggle - uggle,
        Sung a song and then died in the struggle.

 

Lord Lovell has been equally popular in Scotland, (where Gavin Greig found no fewer than nine versions), in Ireland and in North America.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Oh where, oh where

Have anyone here seen a piece of string?
To find it I do intend.
Have anyone here seen a piece of string?
With a poodle dog at the end.

Oh where of where has my little dog gone?
Oh where oh where is it been?
I suppose my dog will return some day,
In a tin of American beef.
Chorus

Diddling chorus

I went down the cosy old lane,
His sweet go rambled with me
She sat down on a mossy bank
And I sat down on a bee.

Oh where of where has that bumble bee gone?
Where o where can it be?
Now I don’t know where that bumble bee’s gone
But I do know where it stung me.
Chorus

Now I went down to the briny sea,
To get a bathe you can bet;
And as soon as I touched the seaweed,
I knew it was going to be wet.

Oh where oh where is my trousers gone?
My hat, my coat and my vest;
Someone has stolen all my clothes,
And I can’t get on like this.
Chorus

Now I am a man that’s not fond of work,
A pound a week is my wage;
When I got home last Saturday night
My wife she yelled in a rage.

‘Where o where is your wages gone?’
‘I have got it right here.
One shilling I’ve brought home in coppers my love,
And nineteen shillings in beer.’
Chorus

 

        From the pen of the Reverend W.O. Cushing (1823 - 1902), a songwriter and poet, who also composed hymns, such as Jewels (When He Comes), Jesus Knows thy Sorrow and Under His Wing. It seems likely that the folk-process has been at work with some of Charlotte’s verses.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Seventeen come Sunday

‘Where are you going to my pretty maid?
Where are you going my honey?’
She answered me quite cheerfully,
‘On an errand for my mummy.’

Chorus
With my rue dum a day,
Fol a diddle lay,
Whack fol a leero lie do.

‘May I come too my fair pretty maid?
May I come too my honey?’
‘You may for me kind sir,’ she said,
‘And of course you’re kindly welcome.’
Chorus

‘How old are you my fair pretty maid?
How old are you my honey?’
She answered me quite cheerfully,
‘I am seventeen come Sunday.’
Chorus

Her shoes was white and her stockings was black,
Her buckles shine like silver,
She had a dark and a rolling eye,
And her hair it dangled in ringlets.
Chorus

‘Will you come down to my mammie’s house,
When the moon shine bright and clearly?
If you come down, I will let you in
And my mammie shall not hear you.’
Chorus

Now I went down to her mammie’s house,
When the moon shine bright and clearly,
I went down and she let me in,
And she rolled in my arms till the morning.
Chorus

She says, ‘Now will you marry me?
Say yes, no, now or never.
And if you will not marry me,
I’m a girl undone for ever.’
Chorus

 

        Versions of Seventeen Come Sunday have turned up all over the place.Cecil Sharp noted twenty-two sets in England and a further four versions in the Appalachian Mountains of North America. Other collectors have found it up and down Canada’s Maritime Coast and in Ireland (where it is also known as As I Gaed ower a Whinny Knowe), although the song appears to be less well-known in Scotland. ‘I pickt up this old song and tune from a country girl in Nithsdale. I never met with it elsewhere in Scotland,’ wrote Robert Burns, who rewrote the text as Waukrife Minnie (Wakeful Mother), and sent it to James Johnson for inclusion in his Scots Musical Museum. The song was published by a number of Victorian broadside printers, including both Catnach and Such of London, which may help explain why the song became so well-known.

Song transcribed by Chris Wildridge

Song notes: Mike Yates

 


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