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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleDeserter
Roud No.1655
Collected FromUnknown
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 5 - Miscellaneous: Williams, A: MS collection No Mi 555
Source SecondaryUnpublished
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

I'm a rich merchant's son who'd both honour and fame,
And I dwelt in the city called Oxford by name;
Till my parents turned from me and bid me to go,
To seek for a master, which proved my overthrow.

Verse 2

A-drinking, a-drinking, a-drinking went I,
Till a recruiting party came beating down by;
They 'listed me and treated me, until I did not know,
That to the King's barracks they had forced me to go.

Verse 3

The first time I deserted I thought myself free,
But my cruel comrades informed on me;
I was quickly followed after and brought back with speed,
I was handcuffed and guarded, heavily ironed indeed.

Verse 4

The second time I deserted I thought myself free,
Until my cruel sweetheart informed on me;
They came to the house and soon took me away,
To the prison, where heavily ironed I lay.

Verse 5

The third time I deserted I thought myself free,
Until my cruel brother informed on me;
Again they came for me and knocked at the door,
And ironed me safe and to prison me bore.

Verse 6

Court martial, court martial they held upon me -
Three hundred lasses and three score and three;
May the Lord have mercy for such cruelty,
Oh, now the King's duty falls heavy on me.

Verse 7

The fourth time I deserted I thought myself free,
But my cruel father informed on me;
I was soon followed after and was not forgot,
And the sentence passed on me was for to be shot.

Verse 8

Now the day being come and his coffin all fixed,
King George he came by in his carriage and six;
When the coffin he saw he cried, 'Let him go free,
For he'll make a good soldier in his [own] country.
Print Song Lyrics
In the last line 'own' is missing from the text as the page has been torn. 'Own has been inserted in another hand.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2007.



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