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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleGamekeeper
Roud No.1313
Collected FromHancock, Emma Mrs.
LocationBlunsdon
CountyWiltshire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Tune
Date
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, 8th January , 1916, p 2, Part 13, No. 5: Williams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923, p 259, 260
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

Near Bottom Town, in Staffordshire,
A farmer’s daughter was living there;
And on a gamekeeper, you soon shall find,
This fair damsel she fixed her mind.

Verse 2

The gamekeeper lately being in the park,
He met his love with an aching heart;
She said – “Young man, what shall I do?
I’ve lost my liberty by you.”

Verse 3

“I will not marry, yet,” said he,
“While I am single I am free.”
Then from his pocket a knife he drew,
And pierced her tender body through.

Verse 4

He picked her up, and there lay by,
A fair young babe that moaned and cried;
He threw her in among the thorns,
With her pretty baby in her arms.

Verse 5

But as there was somebody nigh,
They heard the baby moan and cry;
They searched the hills and the valleys o’er,
And found the farmer’s daughter there.

Verse 6

The gamekeeper was taken before it was long,
And put into a prison strong;
And there he was condemned to die,
Upon the gallows-tree so high.

Verse 7

Here’s a warning to you and all mankind,
To all true lovers that I leave behind;
And never do as I have done,
For I might have been a farmer’s son.
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS: ‘The first recollection I have of the following song is that of having seen a brief quotation of it in Akerman’s ‘Wiltshire Tales’, some years ago. I believe Akerman heard it at Highworth. By chance I stumbled upon the piece at Blunsdon, where it was still remembered by an old woman named Hancock, who told me she learnt it of her father, when a girl. I was quite six months in getting the song as my informant was very forgetful and could only tell me two or three lines at a time. In the end I obtained it complete with the exception of the first two lines of the ‘warning’. I had decided that I should not get them, but by and by I called to see another dear old woman also considerably over eighty, named Dickson, of Brinkworth and the first thing she told me was the warning verse of the ‘Gamekeeper’ – she had forgotten everything else. The Brinkworth version had in the fourth verse, ‘With her baby sprawling in her arms’.’

Williams, Alfred: FSUT: ‘The first recollection I have of the following song is that of having seen a brief quotation of it in Akerman’s ‘Wiltshire Tales’, some years ago. I believe Akerman heard it at Highworth. By chance I stumbled upon the piece at Blunsdon, where it was still remembered by an old woman named Hancock, who told me she learnt it of her father, when a girl. A Brinkworth version had in the fourth verse, ‘With her baby sprawling in her arms’.’

Note 2

In Verse 1 Line I the word Bottom replaces a word which has been obscured.

In Verse 2 Line 4 the words, ‘I’ve lost my liberty’ replace words which have been obscured.

Note 3

The usual citation for this song is: WSHC: 2598/36 Packet 4 - Wiltshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Wt 317. The above text is taken from the original which is the citation given above.

Note 4

Williams’ allusion to Akerman is to a brief reference in the chapter, Giles Chawbacon, p 36, 37,

‘Our business is with Giles Chawbacon, who arrived at Highworth without any adventure worth recording.’

On page 37, without any title, is the tune referred to as the Gamekeeper.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2014.

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