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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleArthur O'Bradley o
Roud No.365
Collected FromNewman, Frederick
LocationCold Aston
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 2 - Gloucestershire: Williams, A: MS collection No Gl 68
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 23rd June, 1916, p 3, Part 34, No. 1: Williams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923, p 271 – 274
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

Come, neighbours, and listen a while,
If ever you wish for to smile,
Or hear a true story of old,
Attend to what I unfold;
It's of a lad, whose fame did resound,
Through every village and town;
For fun, for frolic and whim,
None ever was equal to him,
And his name was Arthur O'Bradley o,
Very rare Arthur O'Bradley o.

Verse 2

Now Arthur being stout and bold,
And near upon thirty years old,
He needs a-wooing must go,
To get him a helpmate, you know;
So, by getting young Dolly's consent,
Away to be married they went,
And, to make himself noble appear,
He mounted the old padded mare.
He chose her because she was blood,
And the pride of his old daddy's stud,
She was wind-galled, spavined and blind,
And had lost a near leg behind;
Was cropped, and docked and fired,
And seldom, if ever got tired,
Had such an abundance of bone,
He called her his high bred roan
And a credit to Arthur O'Bradley o,
Very rare Arthur O'Bradley o.

Verse 3

Then he packed up his drudgery hose,
And put on his holiday clothes;
His coat was scarlet so fine,
Full trimmed with buttons behind,
Two sleeves it had it is true,
One yellow, the other was blue,
The cuffs and capes were of green,
The longest that ever were seen;
His hat, though greasy and tore,
Cocked up with a feather before,
And under his chin it was tied
With a strip from an old cow's hide;
His breeches three times had been turned,
And two holes in the left side were burned;
Two boots he had, but no kin;
One was leather, the other was tin;
His stirrups were made of patten rings,
Tied fast to the girth with two strings,
Yet he needed a good saddle cloth,
Which long had been eaten by moth,
This was a misfortune, you'll say,
But still he looked gallant and gay,
And his name was Arthur O'Bradley O,
Very rare Arthur O'Bradley O.

Verse 4

Thus accoutred, away he did ride,
Whilst Dolly did trudge by his side,
Till, coming up to the church door,
Amidst five thousand, or more,
Then from the old mare he did 'light,
Which put the poor clerk in a fright,
And the parson so dreadfully shook,
That he presently dropped down his book,
Which Arthur soon picked up again,
And swore, if he did not begin,
He surely would scuttle his nob
If he kept him so long in the mob,
Crying, "Dolly, my dearie, come hither,
And let us be tacked together,
For the honour of Arthur O'Bradley o,
Very rare Arthur O'Bradley o"

Verse 5

Then the parson his duty discharged,
Without any fee or reward,
He swore he no money would have,
And poor Arthur had none him to give,
But, to make him some little amends,
He invited him home with his friends,
To take a sweet kiss of the bride,
And eat a good dinner beside;
The dishes though few, were good,
And the sweetest of animal food;
There was roast guinea pig, and a bantam,
A sheep's head stewed in a lanthorn,
Two calves feet, and a bull's trotter,
The fore and hind leg of an otter,
Lampfish, lippets and dabs,
Crayfish, cockles and crabs,
Red herrings, and sprats by dozens,
To feast all his uncles and cousins,
Who were so well pleased with the treat,
And heartily they all did eat
To the honour of Arthur O'Bradley o,
Very rare Arthur O'Bradley o

Verse 6

Now the guests being well satisfied,
The fragments were laid on one side,
And Arthur, to make their hearts merry,
Brought pale ale, perkin and perry,
Then Timothy Twig stepped in,
With his pipe and a pipkin of gin,
A lad that was pleasant and jolly
And scorned for to meet melancholy,
"Come, give us a dance," quoth Doll,
"Come, Geoffrey, play us Mad Moll,
'Tis time to be merry and frisky,
But first let us have some more whisky.
I hate your barley swipes,
They don't agree with my tripes,
They make me squalish and queery."
"That's right," says Arthur, "my dearie,
My lily, my lark, my love,
My daffy down dilly, my dove,
My everything and my wife,
I never was so pleased in my life,
Since my name has been Arthur O'Bradley o,
Very rare Arthur O'Bradley o."

Verse 7

Then the pipers they screwed up their bags,
And the girls began shaking their rags,
You'd have laughed to have seen their humps,
Their false teeth, eyes and cork rumps,
Whilst some only one leg had gotten,
And that which they had was rotten.
Then up jumped old Mother Crow,
Two stockings, but never a shoe,
And a hump on her back did not lack,
But you must take no notice of that,
Her mouth it was all awry,
She never was heard for to lie,
For she had been dumb from her birth,
So by nodding consented to mirth,
For the honour of Arthur O'Bradley o,
Very rare Arthur O'Bradley o

Verse 8

Then the parson led off at the top,
Some danced, while others did hop,
There was lead up and down, figure in,
Cross hands and then back again;
So in dancing they spent the whole night,
Till bright Phoebus appeared in their sight,
When each took a kiss of the bride,
And hopped home to his own fireside,
Well pleased with Arthur O'Bradley o,
Very rare Arthur O'Bradley o
Print Song Lyrics
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms: WGS: A few weeks ago we printed a version of the song, Arthur OBradley, and at the same time intimated that there existed, in the neighbourhood, another copy, which I for certainty traced at Bishopstone, Wiltshire. Since then, a correspondent, Mr Fredrick Newman, of Cold Ashton, Bourton on the Water, has kindly written out the copy from memory, as he heard it sung by a neighbouring farmer at Bamton, some years ago. I have also had the good fortune to discover it at Ewen near to the Thameshead. The version is almost identical with that given in Bells Songs of the English peasantry and is undoubtedly of great age, since references are made to the composition by Ben Jonson, Dekker and others of the Elizabethan writers.

Williams, Alfred: FSUT: This famous old piece was popular at Bishopstone and Stratton St Margaret. I also found it at Ewen and Bourton on the Water. There were two versions; the following is the more complete. Words of Mr Newman, Cold Aston, Gloucestershire.

Note 2

Following the fair copy in Williams hand there is another copy perhaps in the hand of Mr Newman.

Note 3

In Verse 5 Line 15 the FSUT text is:

Lampfish, limpets and dabs,

In Verse Six two lines are deleted after Line 8:

But Arthur being first in the throng,
Swore he would suing the first song

In Verse 7, Line 5 the WGS and FSUT text is:

Whilst some only one tooth had gotten,

Note 4

Ben Schwartz, a user from the USA suggests a source for the music to Arthur OBradley O. The music which accompanies this version of the song is taken from, Chappell, W.: Popular music of the olden time, London, 1859, Vol. 2, pp 603, 604.

The difficulty with the tune and the words as collected by Williams is the wide variation in the length of the verses. It will be seen that the text for Verse 1 does not use all the notes transcribed.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2011.



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