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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleBonny Old England O
Roud No.12879
Collected FromFaulkner, James
LocationBrize Norton
CountyOxfordshire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 2 - Oxfordshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Ox 232
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 19th February, 1916, p 3, Part 19, No. 6
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

Down by a crystal fountain, as I alone one morn did stray,
The Shamrock, Thistle and Rose unto each other they did say -
"Alterations must take place, for Britain seems in grief and woe,
Such times were never seen before in the land called Bonny Old England O."

Verse 2

In former times my father said the times were different far from now,
The taxes were not half so high, the poor man kept a pig and cow;
His family was neat and clean, and cheerfully along did go,
Distress by few was seldom felt in the land called Bonny Old England O.

Verse 3

When Queen Elizabeth ruled the land she passed a law to feed the poor,
The people no occasion had to beg their bread from door to door;
Employment everyone could find, and cheerful to his labour go,
Now they've passed a law to starve the poor in Bonny Old England O.

Verse 4

The farmer's wives to market go upon the horse and promenade,
Their dress is linsey woolsey fine their clothing is so fine displayed;
Silk gowns with parasols and veils, and scented too, with musk they go,
And a fine blood horse to ride upon; what change in Bonny Old England O.

Verse 5

Come Britons! cheer your courage up, and let us hope the time will mend,
We're well aware it's almost time oppression should be at an end;
If men were for their labour paid, and rates and taxes both were low,
That would be the time to live and sing in the land called Bonny Old England O.
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS 'This is not a recent song. I thought when I first heard it that it might have originated during the agricultural disturbances fomented by the well known agitator, Joseph Arch, in the middle of the last century. As a matter of fact the piece is much older than that. My informant, who is nearly eighty years of age, told me that his father sang it as long ago as he could remember. From the phraseology I think it must date, at least; of the opening of the nineteenth century. Obtained of James Falconer, Brize Norton, near Witney.'

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.

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