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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleShe laid these babes across her lap
Roud No.9
Collected FromBond, Mary Mrs.
LocationQuenington
CountyGloucestershire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative TitleCruel mother
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 2 - Gloucestershire: Williams, A: MS collection No Gl 129
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 26th August, 1916, p 3, Part 43, No. 5: Williams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, p 295
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

She laid these babes across her lap -
Jenny, poor gentle Rosemary
She vowed they should never suck milk nor pap
When the dew lies under the mulberry tree

Verse 2

She drew their little dresses apart
Jenny, poor gentle Rosemary
She stabbed those pretty babes to the heart
When the dew lies under the mulberry tree

Verse 3

She bore these pretty babes down to the brook
Jenny, poor gentle Rosemary
And vowed she'd bury them down in the deep
When the dew lies under the mulberry tree

Verse 4

She let the penknife into the brook
Jenny, poor gentle Rosemary
She thought the blood had never forsook
When the dew lies under the mulberry tree

Verse 5

She went to the brook to wash her hands
Jenny, poor gentle Rosemary
The more she washed the more it came on
When the dew lies under the mulberry tree

Verse 6

O babes! O babes! When you were mine
Jenny, poor gentle Rosemary
You were dressed in silks and satins so fine
When the dew lies under the mulberry tree

Verse 7

O mother! O mother! When we were thine
Jenny, poor gentle Rosemary
We never were dressed in silks and satins so fine
When the dew lies under the mulberry tree

Verse 8

O heaven it is a sweet pretty place
Jenny, poor gentle Rosemary
It's where thy body shall never take ease
When the dew lies under the mulberry tree

Verse 9

O hell it is a smoky place
Jenny, poor gentle Rosemary
It's there thy body shall burn in a blaze
When the dew lies under the mulberry tree
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS / FSUT: 'This interesting fragment was also given me by Mrs M Bond, Quenington: she learnt it at her mother's knee as a child, but has forgotten the opening verses and I cannot find anyone else who remembers the piece. The story however, is current under other forms and there is also a Scotch version though dissimilar from ours.'

Note 2

This is published in WGS as 'fragment' and in FSUT as 'She laid these babes across her lap'

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.

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