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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleBox on her head
Roud No.289
Collected FromPotter, Henry
LocationStandlake
CountyOxfordshire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 3 - Oxfordshire: Williams, A: MS collection No. Ox 293
Source SecondaryUnpublished
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

It's of a pretty fair maid, in London did dwell,
For wit and for beauty, none could her excel;
To her master and mistress she served seven year,
And what followed after, you quickly shall hear.

Verse 2

She put the box on her head and ganged along,
The first that she came to was a stout able man;
He said, 'My pretty fair maid, where are you going this way?
I'll show you a nearer road across the county.'

Verse 3

He took her by the hand and led her to a lane,
Said he, 'My pretty fair maid, I mean to tell you plain;
Deliver up you money without any fear or strife,
Or else, this very moment, I'll take away your life.'

Verse 4

The tears form her eyes like two fountains did flow,
'Oh, where shall I wander? Oh where shall I go?'
But while this young fellow was feeling for his knife,
This beautiful young damsel took away his life.

Verse 5

She put the box on her head and she ganged along,
The next that she met was a noble gentleman;
He said, 'My pretty fair maid, where are you going so late?
And what was that noise I heard at yonder gate?

Verse 6

The box on your head o you does not belong,
To your master and mistress you have done something wrong;
To your master and mistress you have done something ill,
For one moment from trembling you cannot keep still.'

Verse 7

'The box on my head to myself it does belong,
To my master and mistress I have done nothing wrong;
To my master and mistress I have done nothing ill,
But I fear in my heart it's some man I did kill.

Verse 8

He demanded my money and I soon let him know,
And when he took his knife I proved his overthrow.'
She took him by the hand and led him to the place,
Where this stout and able fellow lay bleeding on his face.

Verse 9

They searched him all over to see what he had got,
He had three loaded pistols, some powder, some shot;
He had three loaded pistols, some powder and some ball,
A knife and a whistle, more robbers to call.

Verse 10

He put the whistle to his lips and blew both loud and shrill,
And four stout, able fellows came tripping down the hill;
The gentleman shot one of them, and that most speedily,
And this beautiful young damsel, she shot the other three.

Verse 11

He says, 'My pretty fair maid, for what you have done,
I'll make you my lawful bride, love, before it is too long;
I'll make you my lawful wife, love, before it is too long,
For the taking of your own part, and the firing of your gun.
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Alfred Williams - 'Formerly a very special favourite in the Vale. I have been offered the piece at least twelve times, though I have heard it but once quite accurately - assuming that the following version is accurate - it is the best I have obtained. Communicated by Thomas Smart, Blunsdon and corrected by Henry Potter, Standlake, Oxfordshire.'

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2007.

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