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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleBold fisherman
Roud No.291
Collected FromHarvey, Henry [Wassail]
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, 1st January, 1916, p 2, Part 12, No. 5
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

As I walked out one May morning,
Down by the river side;
‘Twas there I saw a bold fisherman,
Come rowing down the tide.

Verse 2

‘Good morning to you, bold fisherman,
How came you fishing here?’
‘I came a-fishing for you, my love,
All down this river clear.

Verse 3

Then he rowed his boat unto the shore,
And to the maid he went;
He took her by the lily white hand,
Which was his full intent.

Verse 4

Then he pulled off his morning gown,
And laid it on the ground;
And there she saw three chains of gold,
All hanging round and round.

Verse 5

Then she on her bended knees did fall,
Saying - ‘Lord, have mercy on me,
For calling you a bold fisherman,
All on those briny seas.’

Verse 6

‘Rise up, rise up, my pretty fair maid,
And go along with me;
There’s not one word that you have spoke,
That’s least offended me.’

Verse 7

‘Stop till I get to my father’s gate,
And married we shall be;
Married I say, without delay,
And married we shall be.’

Verse 8

Then he took her to his father’s hall,
And married her the next day;
And now she has her bold fisherman,
To row her down the sea.
Print Song Lyrics
Note 1

Alfred Williams – ‘I have heard of this piece in several quarters of the Thames valley. I obtained my first copy of ‘Wassail’ Harvey, Cricklade, and a slightly better version, given below, of Mrs Sarah Calcott, Northmoor, Oxfordshire. Northmoor is a lonely little village on the banks of the Thames between Standlake and Oxford. The road is broken by the river which must be crossed by ferry to Babcock, Hythe and Appleton. The old woman, who lives alone, sang me several songs including Lord Bateman, while her pet jackdaw sat upon the arm of her chair in the fire light. At the same time, though extremely poor, she insisted upon my taking tea with her, and filled my pockets with choicest apples to eat on my way home.’

Note 2

In the original draft of the song in all instances the words young fisherman have been replaced by bold fisherman.

In verse 5 the original text was:

Then she fell on her bended knee
Saying – “Lord have mercy [illegible] I crave,
For calling you a young fisherman
Upon this briny sea.

In verse 6 Line 2 the original text was:

For I declare to thee

Note 3

The usual citation for this song is: WSHC: 2598/36 Packet 3 - Oxfordshire: Williams, A: MS collection No. Ox 282. The above text is taken from the original which is the citation given above.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2014.



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