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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleBlind beggar's daughter of Bethnal Green
Roud No.132
Collected FromSawyer, David [Phoebus]
LocationOgbourne St. Andrew
CountyWiltshire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 4 - Wiltshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Wt 434
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 13th November, 1915, p 2, Part 7, No. 7: Williams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923, p 255, 256
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

It's of a blind beggar in London did dwell,
And he had a fine daughter, a beautiful girl;
"Shall I seek my fortune, dear father?" said she -
That favour was granted to pretty Bessee.

Verse 2

She started from London as I have heard say,
And arrived at Romford the very same day;
And when that she came there well hired was she,
So dearly beloved was pretty Bessee.

Verse 3

She had not been there a very long time,
Before a rich squire a-courting her came;
"Your skirt shall be lined with jewels," said he,
"If you will but wed me, my pretty Bessee."

Verse 4

"Oh yes! I am willing to wed you," said she,
"But first ask the father of pretty Bessee."
"Oh who is your father, come tell unto me?
And I will go with you your father to see."

Verse 5

"My father," she said, "is soon to be seen,
He's called the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green;
Each day he sits begging for charitie,
And his is the father of pretty Bessee."

Verse 6

"If your father's a beggar you'll not do for me,
For no beggar's daughter my lady shall be;
No blind beggar's daughter my lady shall be."
So scornful he turned from pretty Bessee.

Verse 7

Then up stepped another, more rich than the first,
"If you're a beggar's daughter you're never the worse;
Your skirts shall be lined with jewels," said he,
"And I will go with you your father to see."

Verse 8

They started from Romford that very same day,
And went unto London along the highway;
And when they arrived, her father to see,
He was pleased to hear of his daughter Bessee.

Verse 9

"My daughter's not clothed in velvet and pearl,
But I will drop guineas with you for my girl;"
So they dropped and they each dropped a guinea on the ground,
And they dropped till they'd each dropped three thousand pounds.

Verse 10

And when that the squire had dropped all his store,
He cried, "Loving father, I can now drop no more."
"Then take her and make her your lady so bright,
For lords, dukes and squires this wedding will spite.

Verse 11

The day you are married I will throw her down
A hundred bright guineas to buy her a gown."
Then answered the squire, "Contented we will be,
There's none to compare with pretty Bessee."

Verse 12

Then, all things being ready, they went hand in hand,
To be joined in wedlock with God's holy band;
And those that were Bessie's proud suitors before,
Their own flesh in anger they cruelly tore.

Verse 13

Thus pretty Bessee was matched with her knight,
And made a rich lady in other's despite;
A more beautiful bride there never was seen,
Than the blind beggar's daughter of Bethnal Green.
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS: 'An abridgement of a ballad well known at the time of Queen Elizabeth. The original is lengthy and tedious, and could not easily be sung. Obtained of David Sawyer. The piece was popular at Ogbourne and Bishopstone, Wiltshire.'

Williams, Alfred: FSUT: 'An abridgement of a ballad well known at the time of Queen Elizabeth. The original is lengthy and tedious, but this did not prevent it from being sung, we may feel sure. Obtained of David Sawyer. The piece was popular at Ogbourne and Bishopstone, Wiltshire.'

Note 2

David Sawyer lived both in Ogbourne and Bishopstone. The last sentence above alludes to this.

Note 3

In Verse 5, Line 3 the original text read:

Each day he sits begging for charitie

In Verse 11, Line 3 the original text read:

Then answered the squire - 'Contented we be,

In Verse 12, Line 4 the original text read:

Their own flesh in anger they wretchedly tore

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.

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