Introduced by Dick Swain

A stout drinking song with a great chorus. At least two versions of the song, both probably dating back to the 1870s, have been published and recorded. The “Shanty Song” version was collected from Mrs. Annie V. Marston of Charlestown, Maine and first published in Eckstorm and Smyth, Minstrelsy Maine (1926). The earliest version of the “Raftman’s Song (Old Butler)” I have found is in the Joel Kimball Diary, April 24, 1874, Livingston Manor, NY (Sullivan County) (accessed May 23, 2021).

The most complete version of the “Raftsman’s Song” (with words almost identical to Joel Kimball’s version) was collected by Ellen Stekert from Ezra Barhight of Gallilee, Pennsylvania and published in “Four Pennsylvania Songs Learned before 1900, From the Repertoire of Ezra V. Barhight” in Goldstein and Byington, Two Penny Ballads and Four Dollar Whiskey (1966).

The Maine version, “Shanty Song,” presented here includes lumber mill locations which would have been familiar to many itinerant mill workers and immigrants in the last quarter of the 19th century – Albany, Philadelphia, and Lewiston, Maine. The song gained a new life after verses localizing the song to the Erie Canal were written in the early 1980’s by John Mayberry, a former member of the CDSS Board and a Toronto Morris Man. Verse 4 of the version here includes my modification of one of John’s verses – it’s a good finish to an excellent song.

For more information, check out:

Listen to Cliff Haslam sing “Shove Around the Jug” from his album Leaning in the Wind, © 2012 Cliff Haslam.
“Shanty Song” with additional Erie Canal verses by John Mayberry.

Listen to Dave Ruch sing “Shove Your Grog Around” from The Oldest Was Born First, 2008.“The Raftman’s Song (Old Butler)”

"Shove the Grog Around" sheet music
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Eckstorm, Fanny Hardy and Mary Smyth. Minstrelsy of Maine. 1927, p. 60
Barry, Phillips. Maine Woods Songster. 1939, p. 17
Last verse by John Mayberry.

I courted a girl in Albany, one in Montreal,
Another in Philadelphia, but the best at Lewiston Falls

Shove the grog around me boys
A chorus ‘round the room
We are the boys who fear no noise
Although we’re far from home

A dollar in a tavern is very easily spent
If we had it in Old Ireland, we’d have to pay down rent


When you go to Albany to give the girls a call,
They’re not at all to be compared to the girls at Lewiston Falls


The logs are at the mill, me boys. The fish are in the sea.
The cork is in the bottle, but the whiskey is in me

About Dick Swain: Combining his skills as a librarian with a life-long interest in folk music, Dick researches and performs songs from the places he has lived and worked, including the Great Lakes Region, Pennsylvania, and Maine. He accompanied Sandy Ives on several trips to Prince Edward Island and has performed at folk festivals, museums, and libraries in the U. S. and Canada. He was Program Director of the CDSS Pinewoods Folk Music Week four times and was a staff member of the Traditional Music and Dance (TradMaD) Camp in 2017. He is especially proud that Sandy Ives signed his copy of the book Drive Dull Care Away with the words: “For Dick Swain, who sings the old come-all-ye’s the way they should be sung!”

Introduced by Moira Craig

In Scotland, the law concerning the general crime of infanticide took two forms during the period 1660-1800. If a married woman (or less commonly man) was prosecuted for the killing of a newborn child, the charge would remain the common law offence of murder, unless it could be proved that the child was born healthy and that the accused had wilfully killed it.

The only chance a lower-class woman had, if she didn’t want to go into service, was to marry and to try to marry well. Unfortunately, if a girl became pregnant before marriage and the father refused to acknowledge the pregnancy, she was likely to be ostracised and banished from the family or village and her chance of marriage in the future was unlikely. It was probable that she would live a life of penury and destitution. It is not surprising, then, that women would try to hide their pregnancy and kill their babies in an attempt to continue a “normal” life.

“The Cruel Mother” exists in a number of variants, in some of which there are verses where the dead children tell the mother she will suffer a number of penances each lasting seven years, e.g. “Seven years to ring a bell / And seven years porter in hell.” Those verses properly belong in “The Maid and the Palmer” (Child ballad 21). Variants of “The Cruel Mother” include “Carlisle Hall,” “The Rose o Malinde,” “Fine Flowers in the Valley,” “The Minister’s Daughter of New York,” and “The Lady From Lee,” among others. “Fine Flowers of the Valley” is a Scottish variant. “Weela Weela Walya” is an Irish schoolyard version.

A closely related German ballad exists in many variants: a child comes to a woman’s wedding to announce himself her child and that she had murdered three children. The woman says the Devil can carry her off if it is true, and the Devil appears to do so.

Infanticide and illegitimacy have been recurrent themes in many European ballads. This version is from the Greig Duncan collection. The woman kills the babies to conceal the fact that she is no longer a virgin and of marriageable material. However, her conscience plays tricks on her and she awaits her fate.

Listen to Moira Craig singing “The Cruel Mother:”

"Cruel Mother" sheet music
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There was a king’s daughter in the north,
Hey the rose and the linsie O;

And she has courted her father’s clerk,
And awa’ by the greenwood sidie O.

She courted him a year and a day,
Till her appearance did her betray.

She leaned her back against a tree,
Thinking that she would lighter be.

She leaned her back against a thorn,
And bonny are the boys she has born.

She took out her wee penknife,
And she’s ta’en awa’ their twa sweet lifes.

She took the kerchief fra her neck,
And she’s wrapped them in a winding sheet.

She buried them beneath a marble stone,
Thinking to win a maiden home.

She looked owre her father’s castle wa’,
And she saw twa bonny boys playing at the ba’.

O bonny boys, gin thou were mine,
I’d dress ye in the silk sae fine,

The sovilne* and the green-grass silk
Ye’d never drink nane but the farrow cow’s milk

O mother, mother, when we were thine,
We never saw nane o’ your silk sae fine.

The sovilne and the green-grass silk;
We never drank nane o’ your farrow cow’s milk.

O bonny boys, come tell to me,
The kind of death that I’m tae dee?

Seven years a bird in the bush,
And seven years a fish in the flood,

Seven years a warning bell,
And seven years in the deeps o’ hell.

Welcome, welcome, bird in the bush,
And welcome welcome, fish in the flood.

Welcome, welcome, warning bell,
But God keep me from the deeps o’ hell.

* Sovilne: sable fur

Moira Craig writes: I was born and brought up outside of Glasgow and my home was always full of singing and music. I never thought much about it; it was normal to me. While Scottish traditional songs are my main love, I’ll sing anything at the drop of a hat and hopefully will continue to do so till the day I die.

Introduced by April Grant

I first heard “Katie Catch” from Boston-area singer Gus Reid. He learned it from the singing of Fay Hield, who revived it and, I believe, slightly rewrote/combined versions from the book The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland Volume 2 by Alice Bertha Gomme, and from Iona and Peter Opie’s Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. It’s the kindest of songs, about sweethearts deciding to get married, and looking forward to all the good things that they’ll do together.

When I hear this song, from Gus, Fay Hield, or most recently from Rhode Island singer Cate Clifford, I almost always burst into tears. I’m not the only one, I’ve noticed. None of us can explain it except to say, “It’s so beautiful!” or “It’s the one where everything is OK!” In a genre where tragic endings and complaints make for the most gripping songs overall, sometimes our hearts cry out for one where nobody has to die and we can watch everything go well for a change.

Listen to Fay Hield sing the song on the album “Old Adam” on Spotify, or listen on YouTube below.

"Katie Catch" sheet music
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Lyrics as sung by Fay Hield:

Down in yonder meadow where the green grass grows,
Little Katie Catch goes a-washing of her clothes,
She sang, and she sang, and she sang so sweet,
Come over, Johnny Walker, come over the street.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Katie Catch, come draw the latch
And sit by the fire and sing,
Take up a cup and fill it up
And let the neighbours in.

Little Katie Catch she made a pudding nice and sweet,
Young Johnny Walker took a spoon for to eat.
Taste love, taste love, don’t say no,
Tomorrow we’ll be married, to the church we will go.

Bedding sheets and pillow slips and blankets and all,
A little baby on your knee and that’s the best of all.
A guinea, a guinea, a guinea gold ring,
Come take me to the church and hear the little choir boys sing.

A guinea gold ring and a peacock hat,
A penny for the church and a feather for his cap.
She paints her cheek and he curls his hair,
She kisses Johnny Walker at the foot of the stair.

April Grant writes: I’m a singer and songwriter who lives in the Boston area. During the pandemic I’ve been letting out my urge to perform by doing the occasional show over Zoom. I also write short stories and poetry. I dunno, dude, words are fun.

Introduced by Cate Clifford

“A Pilgrim’s Way” began as a Rudyard Kipling poem which, according to Mainly Norfolk, appeared in his book The Years Between. Then Peter Bellamy added his original tune.

When I first heard this love letter to humanity, sung by A.J. Wright, I felt like I’d heard my own heart in song. May it lighten and strengthen yours.

The Amorites were a semi-nomadic people who lived in Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Syria during the 3rd millennium BC. They founded the ancient city of Mari, and the first dynasty of Babylon. Eremites are Christian hermits. A “general averagee” is a sailor on a cargo ship.

Listen to Peter Bellamy performing “A Pilgrim’s Way:”

"A Pilgrim's Way" sheet music
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I do not look for holy saints to guide me on my way,
Or male and female devilkins to lead my feet astray.
If these are added, I rejoice—if not, I shall not mind,
So long as I have leave and choice to meet my fellow-kind.
And as we come and as we go (and deadly-soon go we!)
Chorus: The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Thus I will honour pious men whose virtue shines so bright
(Though none are more amazed than I when I by chance do right),
And I will pity foolish men for woe their sins have bred
(Though ninety-nine per cent. of mine I brought on my own head).
And Amorite, or Eremite, or General Averagee,
Chorus: The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they bore me overmuch, I will not shake mine ears,
Recalling many thousand such whom I have bored to tears.
And when they labour to impress, I will not doubt nor scoff;
Since I myself have done no less and—sometimes pulled it off.
Yea, as we are and we are not, and we pretend to be,
Chorus: The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they work me random wrong, as oftentimes hath been,
I will not cherish hate too long (my hands are none too clean).
And when they do me random good I will not feign surprise.
No more than those whom I have cheered with wayside courtesies.
But, as we give and as we take—whate’er our takings be—
Chorus: The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

But when I meet with frantic folk who sinfully declare
There is no pardon for their sin, the same I will not spare
Till I have proved that Heaven and Hell, which in our hearts we have
Show nothing irredeemable on either side of the grave.
For as we live and as we die—if utter Death there be—
Chorus: The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Deliver me from every pride—the Middle, High, and Low—
That bars me from a brother’s side, whatever pride he show.
And purge me from me all heresies of thought and speech and pen
That bid me judge him otherwise than I am judged. Amen!
That I may sing of Crowd or King or road-borne company,
That I may labour in my day, vocation and degree,
To prove the same by deed and name, and hold unshakenly
(Where’er I go, whate’er I know, or whoe’er my neighbor be)
This single faith in Life and Death and to Eternity:
Chorus: The people, Lord, thy people are good enough for me!

Cate Clifford is a Rhode Island-based singer of traditional and trad-adjacent folk songs who has performed in homes, venues, and festival showcases across New England and New York, and is featured on Lynz Morahn’s EP Kick It Off. When she isn’t singing, Cate collects traditional songs of Robin Hood and King Arthur, traditional and trad-adjacent folk songs about love beyond the romantic and libidinous, and little songs (with Ben Gagliardi); schemes about how to fit more Shakespeare into her setlists; and serves on the Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival board. For more about Cate and the songs she loves, visit her website.

Introduced by Jeff Gillett

Glenlogie, or Jean O Bethelnie is No. 238 in the Child Collection. The earliest text in Child dates back to 1768.

It is a ballad with a happy ending, but perhaps none the worse for that! There is no murder, no rape, no incest: the most sensational element is emotional blackmail. The young Lady Jeannie sees Glenlogie and falls head-over-heels in love with him. When he says he is already promised to another, she takes to her bed and prepares to die for love. Glenlogie relents, they are married and (we suppose) live happily ever after!

The tune that I know best for it was written by Shirley Collins, and I loved it from the moment Ron Taylor first introduced me to it.

I have a particularly soft spot for the song because it was one of the earliest for which I was happy with my own attempts at finding a way of accompanying traditional song that might enhance the vocal performance without restricting it in any way.

Here is the recorded performance of Glenlogie by Ron Taylor and myself (also featuring my other long-term collaborator, Becky Dellow on the fiddle), which is taken from our Wildgoose CD Buy it, Try it (and Never Repent You).

"Glenlogie" sheet music
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There were four and twenty nobles came to the king’s hall,
And bonny Glenlogie was the flower of them all.
And the fair Lady Jeannie came tripping downstairs
And fell in love with Glenlogie out of all that were there.

She sent for the footman that ran by his side,
Saying: ‘Who is that young man, and where does he bide?’
‘He bides at Glenlogie when he is at home,
And he’s of the gay Gordons; and his name is Lord John.’

‘Glenlogie, Glenlogie, and you would prove kind,
I have laid my love on you, I’m sure in my mind.’
But he’s turned around lightly, as the Gordons do all,
Says: ‘I thank you, Lady Jeannie, but I’m promised away.’

She’s sent for her ladies her bed for to make
And the rings on her fingers, she did them all break;
Saying: ‘Is there a bonny boy that would win hose and shoon
That would ride to Glenlogie and bid my love come?’

When Glenlogie saw the letter, a loud laugh laughed he.
But when he had read it, the tears blinded his eye;
Saying: ‘What is my lineage, and what is my make
That such a bonny lady should die for my sake?’

When he’s come to the castle, little mirth there was there
But weeping and wailing and tearing of hair.
And pale and wan was she when Glenlogie came in;
Ah, but red and rosy grew she when she saw it was him!

‘Turn around, Lady Jeannie, turn around to my side
For I’ll be the bridegroom, and you’ll be my bride!’
And it was a merry wedding – all silver and gold –
For bonny Jeannie Gordon, just seventeen years old.

Jeff Gillett writes: My interest in folk music dates back to my childhood, when my parents introduced me to the music of Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. I later discovered Martin Carthy and began to explore folk music from the UK. I have a great deal of sympathy for those who regard folksong as an essentially unaccompanied form, and have devoted my own efforts as singer and accompanist to finding an approach that supports the song without swamping it.

I performed with Ron Taylor intermittently for about 30 years, concurrently working in largely instrumental line-ups with fiddle-player Becky Dellow (culminating in Mischief Afoot). I have appeared on albums by Jim Causley, Martin and Shan Graebe, Craig Morgan Robson and Marianne McAleer, and was also in a duo with Sarah Morgan. Currently, I perform solo and with Elaine Gillett as Discovery.

I play guitar, mandolin, mandola, English concertina and Appalachian Mountain dulcimer.

Introduced by Peter and Barbara Snape

“Sprig of Thyme” was widely collected and published on broadsides throughout the British Isles. The version we sing here is from the John Greaves collection of Irlam Hall, Manchester and published in Lancashire Lyrics, Songs and Ballads of the County Palatine, edited by John Harland in 1866.

The song is of the same character as “The Seeds of Love” and also “Love’s Evil Choice or The Unfortunate Damsel,” a poem written by Mrs Fleetwood of Habergham Hall, Padiham, near Burnley in Lancashire, who wrote it to console herself when, in 1689, her husband’s extravagances finally led to the loss of the family estate.

It is interesting to note some similarities between “Sprig of Thyme” and “Seeds of Love,” the first song collected by Cecil Sharp.

Listen to Peter and Barbara Snape singing “Sprig of Thyme:”

"Sprig of Thyme" sheet music
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You virgins far and near,
That flourish in your prime,
I’d have you keep your gardens clear,
Let no man steal your thyme.

Once I had a sprig of thyme,
It flourished night and day,
Til at length there came a false young man,
Who stole my thyme away.

And now my thyme’s all gone,
And I cannot plant no new,
In the very same place where grew my thyme,
It’s overrun with rue.

Rue, rue, runs over all;
But rue will not be seen,
I will plant again in the very same place,
And call it willow green.

Willow, willow, I must wear,
And willow is my doom,
Since my false love has forsaken me,
And left me here to moan.

The gardener standing by,
Three flowers he offered me,
The lily, the pink, the red rose-bud,
But I refused all three.

The pink is a flower that is sweet,
And so is the rose in June;
The lily is the virgin flower,
Alas! oft cropped too soon.

Peter and Barbara Snape live in the North West of England and perform traditional song from that area. They research songs with varied and interesting themes and perform them with commitment, passion and enjoyment. Closely aligned to their research and singing interests, Cotton Town Chronicles is a presentation of songs about working life during the age when cotton and coal were king in Lancashire. Anne Geddes Gilchrist, OBE, with its focus on the songs she collected in her native Lancashire, is an overview of a remarkable woman who became a pivotal figure both within the folk-song collecting community of the early 20th Century and in the publication of the Journal of the Folk Song Society.

Introduced by Arthur Knevett

This ballad has enjoyed widespread popularity. It was regularly printed on broadsides, which have kept it in circulation and helped to stabilize the text.

The story is a ‘ripping yarn’ concerning an adventurous lord who sails to Turkey and is taken prisoner. The jailer’s daughter, Sophie, releases him and he sails home to freedom. After seven years, she decides to find him, and having done so, he jilts his new bride and marries her!

It’s one of the few Child ballads that has a happy ending (except, of course, for the jilted bride). It has been a favourite of mine since I learnt it in the 1960s from the recording of Bert Lloyd (The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Vol. 2 on Riverside Records, 1956).

The mp3 is from the Fellside “Ballads” CD in 1997.

Listen to Arthur Knevett singing “Lord Bateman:”

"Lord Bateman" sheet music
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Lord Bateman was a noble lord
A noble lord of some high degree
He set his foot on board of ship
Some foreign country he would go see

He sailed east and he sailed west
Until he came to proud Turkey
There he was taken and put in prison
‘Til of his life he grew quite weary

Now in this prison there grew a tree
It grew so stout and it grew so strong
There he was chained all by the middle
Until his life it was almost gone.

This jailer had but one only daughter
The fairest creature my two eyes did see
She stole the keys to her father’s prison
And vowed Lord Bateman she would set free.

“Have you got houses, have you got lands
And does Northumberland belong to thee?
What would you give to that fair young lady
That out of prison would set you free?”

“Oh I’ve got houses and I’ve got lands
And half Northumberland belongs to me
I’d give it all to that fair young lady
That out of prison would set me free.”

She took him to her marble parlour
With sugar cake and the best of wine
And every health that she drank unto him,
“I wish, Lord Bateman, your heart was mine.

“For seven long years I will make a vow
For seven long years I will keep it strong
If you do not wed to no other woman
Then I will wed to no other man.”

She took him to her father’s harbour
And gave to him a ship of fame.
“Adieu, adieu to you Lord Bateman
I fear I never will see you again.”

When seven long years and fourteen days
When seven long years well nigh were gone
She dressed herself in her silken clothes
O’er the raging main to find Lord Bateman.

She floated low and she floated high
‘Till turf and stone she has chanced to spy
Then she went cracking of her fair white fingers
As for Lord Bateman she did enquire.

“Oh isn’t this Lord Batemans palace
And is that noble lord within?”
“Oh yes, oh yes,” cried the brisk young porter
“He has just taken his new bride in.”

“Then tell him to send me a slice of bread
And a bottle of the best of wine
And not to forget that fair young lady
That did release him when close confined.”

“What news, what news, oh my brisk young porter
What news, what news have you brought to me?”
“There is a lady enquiring for you
The fairest creature my eyes did see.

“She tells you to send her a slice of bread
And a bottle of the best of wine
And not to forget that fair young lady
Who did release you when close confined.”

Lord Bateman flew into a passion
He broke the table in splinters three
“I’ll lay my life if that’s young Sophie
So now my new wed wife, farewell to thee.”

“I own I made a bride of thee
But you’re none the better nor the worse by me,
You came to me on a horse and saddle
You shall go back in a coach and three.”

He then prepared such another wedding
And both their hearts, they was full of glee.
“I’ll sail no more to a foreign country
Now that my Sophie has crossed the sea.”

Arthur Knevett writes: I have had a passion for English traditional songs, particularly ballads, since the 1960s. When a folk club opened in Surbiton, where I lived, I was one the first members. Over the years I have sung at many clubs and festivals but always working around the ‘day job’ as a university lecturer. Now that I have more time available I am pursuing academic research, writing journal articles and giving guest lectures while also continuing with my great passion of singing traditional songs. Further details can be found at my website.

Introduced by Ed Trickett

I spent only one evening with E. G. Huntington at his home on Martha’s Vineyard. That was in 1965. It was a truly wonderful evening of music and conversation, during which Gale played for me this version of the “Greenland Whale Fisheries” which he called “Brave Boys.”

I didn’t have a tape recorder or my photographic memory with me, so he wrote out the melody and sent it to me some months later, along with a small booklet of The Dukes County Intelligencer, May, 1961, which was published by the Dukes County Historical Society in Edgartown, Massachusetts.

The booklet was filled with songs Gale had collected from the Tilton family, a family famous for their singing as well as for their whaling. The words to “Brave Boys” were in it, but the tune Gale wrote out for me was different from that in the book. Of the two, I chose the one he had sung for me that night, and am proud to be able to pass it on.

Listen to Ed Trickett singing “Brave Boys:”

"Brave Boys" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


It was eighteen hundred and thirty-nine,
On the thirteenth day of May,
We weighed our anchor and set our sail
And for Greenland bore away, brave boys,
For Greenland bore away.

The Captain’s name it was William Moore,
And the mate’s name was the same.
The ship she was called the Lion so bold,
As she plowed the raging main, brave boys,
She plowed the raging main.

Oh, the mate he stood in the top cross tree,
And a fine looking man was he,
A-searching the horizon with a spy-glass in his hand,
“It’s a whale, a whale, a fish, brave boys,
It’s a whale, a fish,” cried he.

And the Captain he stood on the quarterdeck,
A fine looking man was he,
“Overhaul, overhaul, let your davit tackles fall,
And lower your boats to the sea, brave boys,
Lower your boats to the sea.”

The boats being lowered and the whale being struck,
He gave one flurry with his tail,
And down went the boat and them six jolly tars,
Never to rise any more, brave boys,
No, they never come up any more.

When the Captain he heard of the loss of his men,
It grieved his heart full sore,
But when he heard of the loss of that whale,
it grieved him ten times more, brave boys,
grieved him ten times more.

Oh, the summer months are past and gone,
And cold winter’s coming on,
So, we’ll head our ship back to New Bedford
And the pretty girls standing on the shore, brave boys,
pretty girls standing on the shore.

Ed Trickett writes: I have been collecting and performing folk music for over 60 years. My early musical influences were Frank Proffitt, Larry Older, Bob and Evelyn Beers, George and Gerry Armstrong, and Howie Mitchell. Later I learned from and sang with a number of other musicians whose commitment and talent were/are extraordinary: Gordon Bok, Bob Coltman, Cathy Barton and Dave Para, and Ann Mayo Muir. My recording efforts began in 1964 with the Golden Ring (Folk-Legacy #16), a loose collection of friends who used to gather in the living room of George and Gerry Armstrong in Wilmette, Illinois. I’ve been part of 4 other ensemble recordings since then, all with Folk Legacy Records, recorded 4 solo albums, and, during the 26 years I sang with Gordon Bok and Ann Mayo Muir, ten other CDs. “Brave Boys” is a traditional song I learned from Gale Huntington at his house on Martha’s Vineyard in 1965.

Introduced by Carolyn Robson

The folk song collector George Gardiner collected over 1200 songs from the county of Hampshire in southern England during the period 1904–1908. In 1907, he collected about 164 songs from five women in the village of Axford near Basingstoke in the northwest of the county.

One of these women, Sarah Goodyear, gave him 41 of these songs, including one of my favourites, ’Abroad as I was walking.’ It is the common tale of a young woman who is seduced by an older man and falls pregnant. He is what is commonly termed a ‘bounder’ and blames her for her ‘wanton will,’ though she is just 14 years old. These days, it would have been a clear case of child sex abuse.

The song is an English version of the Irish song ‘Blackwaterside.’ I was a member of the trio Craig Morgan Robson, and we joined forces with the lovely Askew Sisters to record a CD of songs collected from these women, called ‘The Axford Five.’ So here I am singing this song accompanied by Hazel and Emily Askew.

"Abroad as I Was Walking" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


Abroad as I was walking down by some green wood side
I heard a fair maid singing ‘I wish I was a bride.’
‘I thank you pretty maiden for the singing of your song.
Tis I myself will marry you.’ ‘Kind Sir, I am too young.’

‘The younger you are the better, more fitter for my bride,
That all the world may plainly see I married my wife a maid.’
Nine times I kissed her ruby lips and viewed her sparkling eye
I catched her by the lily white hand one night with her to lie.

And all the fore part of that night we lay in sport and play
And all the latter part of that night I lay in her arms til day.
Til day, til day, til day, til daylight did appear
Then this young man rose, put on his clothes, said ‘Fare you well, my dear.’

‘What did you promise me last night as I lay by your side?
You promised you would marry me, make me your lawful bride.’
‘What I did promise you last night was in a merry mood,
I vow, I swear, I do declare, I’m not so very good.

Go home to your father’s garden. Go home and weep your fill,
And when you’ve thought on what you’ve done, you’ll blame your wanton will.’
‘My parents brought me up like a small bird in a cage
And now I am with child by you, scarce 14 years of age.

It’s other farmers’ daughters, to market they do go
While I, poor girl, must stay at home and rock the cradle o’er
And rock the cradle o’er and o’er, sing hush-ee lullaby
Was there ever a maid and a pretty fair maid in love, so crossed as I?’

Carolyn Robson is a singer and choir leader now living in the south of England, but originally from the northeast. Her repertoire consists mainly of Northumbrian and Scottish songs, as well as songs from Hampshire, where she runs 4 choirs. She was a member of the renowned a cappella trio Craig Morgan Robson. Carolyn also runs workshops and sings with Moira Craig. The duo have toured the US on numerous occasions and will be tutors at TradMad in 2021.

Introduced by Margaret Bennett

I’ve chosen a ballad I’ve loved for years: ‘The Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow’ (Child 214).

As a student in the mid-sixties, I joined the Glasgow Folksong and Ballad Club, and among the unforgettable singers was an Aberdeenshire traveller, Davie Stewart. He played the accordion and sang with such conviction that I was transfixed.

Apart from a stint in the army during WW1, Davie spent his life as an itinerant worker, finally settling in Glasgow, where he was a street singer. Alan Lomax recorded him in London in 1957 capturing the passion that stopped folk in the street: Davie knew how to tell the story.

Listen to Davie Stewart, recorded by Alan Lomax in 1957:

Listen to Margaret Bennett, recorded at the Storytelling Festival, Edinburgh, 2018:

"The Dowie Dens o' Yarrow" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


There was a lady in the north,
You’d scarcely find her marrow
She was courted by nine noblemen,
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.

Her faither had a young ploughboy
And him she loved most dearly,
She dressed him up as a nobleman,
And sent him off to Yarrow.

These nine noblemen sat drinking wine,
Drinking tae their sorrow,
That the fairest maid you ever saw
Was in the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.

“Well, did you come here tae play cards or dice?
Did you come here for sorrow?
Or did you come here to slay us a’
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow?”

“Well, I neither cam tae play cards or dice,
Nor did I come for sorrow,
But one by one as lang as ye stand
I will fight ye a’ in Yarrow.”

Well it’s three he drew, and three he slew,
And three he deadly wounded;
But her false brother John came running in
And pierced him through the middle.

“Oh go home, go home, you false young man,
Go tell your sister’s sorrow,
That her true lover John lies dead and gone
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.”

“Oh mother dear, I have dreamed a dream,
I fear it may prove sorrow,
That my true lover John lies dead and gone
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.”

“Oh, daughter dear, I have read your dream,
And yes, the blood proves sorrow,
For your true lover John lies dead and gone,
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.”

Her hair being of three-quarters lang,
The colour bein yellow,
She wrapped it round his middle sae sma’
And she carried him hame tae Yarrow.

“Oh, mother dear, come and mak my bed,
Oh make it long and narrow,
For my true lover John died for me today,
I will die for him tomorrow.”

Originally from the Isle of Skye, Margaret Bennett is a singer, storyteller and writer. She studied Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and from 1984–96 was on the staff of the School of Scottish Studies. She now lives in Perthshire, sings at festivals both sides of the Atlantic, and teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.