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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleIt's of a pretty fair maid
Roud No.289
Collected FromSmart, Thomas
LocationBlunsdon
CountyWiltshire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative TitleBox on her head
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 2 - Oxfordshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Ox 293
Source SecondaryWilliams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923 p 280, 281
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

It's of a pretty fair maid in London did dwell,
For wit and for beauty none could her excel;
To her master and mistress she served seven year,
And what follows after you quickly shall hear.

Verse 2

She put the box upon her head and ganged along,
The first that she met was a stout and able man;
He said - 'My pretty fair maid, where are you going this way?
I'll show you a nearer road across the countree.'

Verse 3

He took her by the hand and led her t a lane,
Said he - ' My pretty fair maid, I mean to tell you plain,
Delivery up your money, without fear or strife,
Or else this very moment, I'll take away your life.'

Verse 4

The tears from her eyes like two fountains did flow -
'Oh, where shall I wander? Oh, where shall I go?'
But while this young fellow was feeling for his knife,
This beautiful young damsel took away his life.

Verse 5

She put the box upon her head and ganged along,
The next that she met was a noble gentleman;
He said, - 'My pretty fair maid, where are you going so late?
And what was the noise that I heard at yonder gate?

Verse 6

The box on your head to yourself does not belong,
To your master or your mistress you have done something wrong;
To your master or your mistress you have done something ill,
For one moment from trembling you cannot keep still.'

Verse 7

The box upon my head to myself it does belong,
To my master or my mistress I have done something wrong;
To my master or my mistress I have done something ill,
But I fear in my heart it's some man I have killed.'

Verse 8

He demanded my money and I soon let him know,
And when he took his knife I proved his overthrow.'
She took him by the hand and led him to the place,
Where this stout and able fellow lay bleeding on hid gsvr.

Verse 9

They searched him all over to see what he had got,
He had three loaded pistols, some powder and some shot;
He had three loaded pistols, some powder and some ball,
A knife and a whistle, some robbers for to call.

Verse 10

He put the whistle to his lips and blew both loud and shrill,
And four stout, able fellows, came tripping down the hill;
The gentleman shot of them, and that most speedily,
And this beautiful young damsel she shot the other three.

Verse 11

He says - 'My pretty for maid, for what you have done,
I'll make you my lawful bride, before it is long,
I'll make you my lawful bride, before it is long,
For the taking of your own part, and the firing of your gun.
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Alfred Williams - 'Formerly a very special favourite in the Vale. I have been offered the piece at least twelve times though I have heard it but once accurately - assuming that the following version is accurate: it is the best I have obtained. Communicated by Thomas Smart, Blunsdon and corrected by Henry Potter, Standlake, Oxfordshire.'

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2007.

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