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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleBonny labouring boy
Roud No.1162
Collected FromWebley, John
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 2 - Gloucestershire: Williams, A: MS collection No Gl 49
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 3rd June, 1916, p 3, Part 32, No. 5
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

As I walked out one morning, 'twas in the blooming spring,
I heard a lonely maid complain, and grievously did sing,
Saying - "Cruel were my parents that did me so annoy,
And would not let me marry my bonny labouring boy."

Verse 2

Young Johnny was my true love's name, as you shall plainly see,
My father he employed him his labouring boy to be,
To harrow, reap and sow the seed, and plough my father's land,
But soon I fell in love with him, as you shall understand.

Verse 3

His cheeks were like the roses red, his eyes as black as sloes,
He's mild in his behaviour, wherever he does go;
He's manly, neat and handsome, his skin is a s white as snow,
And in spite of both my parents, with my labouring boy I'll go.

Verse 4

My parents thought to have me wed unto some lord or peer -
I being the only heiress to then thousand pounds a year -
I fixed my heart on one true love, and him I'll ne'er deny;
Through the nation I will ramble with my bonny labouring boy.

Verse 5

My father he came to me, and took me by the hand,
And he swore he'd send young Johnny unto a foreign land;
He locked me in my bedroom, my comforts to annoy,
And left me there to weep and mourn my bonny labouring boy.

Verse 6

Said the daughter to her father, "Your wish is all in vain,
Lords, dukes, earls and riches, I ever will disdain;
I'd rather live a humble life, my time I would employ,
Increasing life's prospects with my bonny labouring boy.

Verse 7

My mother she came to me and unto me did say -
"Your father has appointed to fix your wedding day."
I nobly made her answer - "With him I'll ne'er comply,
For a single life I will remain for my bonny labouring boy.'

Verse 8

So it's fill your glasses to the brim, and let the toast go round,
Here's health to every labouring boy that ploughs and tills the ground;
For when his work is over his home he will enjoy,
So happy is the girl that gets a bonny labouring boy.
Print Song Lyrics
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS: 'The 'Bonny labouring boy' is a ballad of a type that was commonly sung at the fairs, and was popular in many parts of the Thames Valley. I heard of it, but failed to obtain the words till recently, when they were related to me by John Webley, Arlington, Bibury.'

Note 2

There are minor punctuation differences between the Ms and printed versions.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.



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