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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleYorkshire bite
Roud No.2637
Collected FromBeckett, James
LocationEaton Hastings
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Source PrimaryWSHC 2598/72 Manuscript of A Cotswold Ploughing Match and other folk songs included in Folk Songs of the Upper Thames
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 19th February, 1916, p 3, Part 19,No. 1: Williams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923 p 253, 254
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

It’s of an old farmer who kept for his man,
A bright Yorkshire lad, as you well understand;
Said he – “Go and take this old cow to the fair,
She is in good order and that I will swear.”

Verse 2

Away went the cow with her head in a band,
And away went the lad as you well understand;
When he got to the fair he met with three men,
And sold the old cow for six pound ten.

Verse 3

Then he went to an alehouse, where he asked to drink,
And, counting his change, how the, money did clink!
“Oh, what am I to do with this money,” said he,
“For fear on the road some robbers might be.”

Verse 4

“Sew it in your coat-lining,” the landlord did say,
“Or you might be robbed upon the highway.” –
There sat an highwayman a-drinking his wine,
Said he to himself – “That money is mine.”

Verse 5

The lad he jumped up, and away he did go,
The highwayman quick followed after also;
“You’re well overtaken, young man,” he did say,
“You’re well overtaken all on the highway.”

Verse 6

“How far are you going?” the highwayman cried,
“Oh, it’s four or five miles,” the lad he replied;
“Oh, it’s four or five miles, for what I do know.”
“Then jump up behind, and away we will go.”

Verse 7

They rode till they came to a very dark lane,
Where there was no one to be heard nor be seen;
“Now deliver up thy money, without fear or strife,
Or else this very moment I’ll take thy sweet life.”

Verse 8

His hand in his pocket the money pulled out,
And among the long grasses he threw it about;
And while the highwayman told it in his purse,
The lad made no mention but rode off with his horse.

Verse 9

The highwayman holloed and begged him to stay,
But the lad would not listen, but kept on his way;
All home to his master, and to him did bring,
Horse, bridle and saddle – a very fine thing.

Verse 10

“Odzooks!” cried the farmer, “What’s this to my loss?
Odpox! What! My cow turned into a hoss?”
“Oh no my good master! Your cow I have sold,
But I have been robbed by some highwayman bold.”

Verse 11

They searched in the bags and within them they found,
Three handsome gold watches and four hundred pound;
And a brace of new pistols, I swear and I vow –
“So I think, my good master, I’ve well sold your cow.”

Verse 12

“And now my good lad, for thou’st been bold and rare,
Three parts of this money shall run to thy share;
And, since the highwayman has lost all his store,
So let him go robbing until he gets more.”
Print Song Lyrics
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS / FSUT: ‘Songs dealing with robbers, highwaymen and gibbeting scenes were always acceptable to the rustic populations; not that they delighted in morbidness, but because the pieces often contained a story or adventure which was able to rivet their interest and compel attention. The “Yorkshire Bite” was one of these. I have met with it many times, and in several forms, though the versions do not differ much. Copy obtained of James Beckett, Easton Hastings, near Faringdon.’

Note 2

The usual citation for this song is: WSHC: 2598/36 Packet 1 – Indexes, lecture notes, Berkshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Bk 11. The above text is taken from the original which is the citation given above.

Note 3

In WGS and FSUT:

Verse 4

“Sew it in your coat lining,” the landlord did say,
“Or you might be robbed upon the highway.” –
There sat an highwayman a-drinking his wine,
Said he to himself, “That money is mine.”

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2014.



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