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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitlePrickly bush
Roud No.144
Collected FromLittle, Robert
LocationSouth Marston
CountyWiltshire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative TitleChild No 095
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 4 - Wiltshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Wt 498
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 5th February, 1916, p 3, Part 17, No. 4: Williams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923, p 281, 282
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

"Stay your hand, hangman, stay your hand awhile,
For I see my father coming over yonder stile;
Father, have you any gold, silver to set me free,
To keep my body from the cold clay grave,
And my neck from the gallows tree?"
"No I have no gold, silver to set you free,
To keep your body from the cold clay grave,
And your neck from the high gallows tree."

Chorus

Oh, the prickly bush that pricks my heart full sore!
If ever I get out of the prickly bush
I'll never get in any more.

Verse 2

"Stay your hand, hangman, stay your hand awhile,
For I see my mother coming over yonder stile;
Mother, have you any gold, silver to set me free,
To keep my body from the cold clay grave,
And my neck from the gallows tree?"
"No I have no gold, silver to set you free,
To keep your body from the cold clay grave,
And your neck from the high gallows tree."

Chorus

Verse 3

"Stay your hand, hangman, stay your hand awhile,
For I see my brother coming over yonder stile;
Brother, have you any gold, silver to set me free,
To keep my body from the cold clay grave,
And my neck from the gallows tree?"
"No I have no gold, silver to set you free,
To keep your body from the cold clay grave,
And your neck from the high gallows tree."

Chorus

Verse 4

"Stay your hand, hangman, stay your hand awhile,
For I see my sister coming over yonder stile;
Sister, have you any gold, silver to set me free,
To keep my body from the cold clay grave,
And my neck from the gallows tree?"
"No I have no gold, silver to set you free,
To keep your body from the cold clay grave,
And your neck from the high gallows tree."

Chorus

Verse 5

"Stay your hand, hangman, stay your hand awhile,
For I see my true love coming over yonder stile;
True love, have you any gold, silver to set me free,
To keep my body from the cold clay grave,
And my neck from the gallows tree?"
"Yes I have some gold, silver to set you free,
To keep your body from the cold clay grave,
And your neck from the high gallows tree."

Chorus
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: WGS: 'The 'Prickly bush' exists in two versions. The complete copy printed below I obtained of Mr Robert Little, of South Marston, Wiltshire. As an instance of how one might miss a good song I would mention this fact. I have lived next door to Mr Little for over twenty five years and know him for one of the most shy and quiet men it would be possible to meet with, and the last in the village one would expect to be possessed of a folk song. A relative of his recently told me that he knew an old piece, however, and I soon had the pleasure of obtaining it. Since then I find that the song was a favourite of the gipsies who camped in Marston Lane when I was a boy. The principal gipsy, whose name was Archelaus, had three sons, namely Zephyrus, Adolphus and Job. They all slept together in a little twig tent, and lived chiefly on hedgehogs. The old man played the fiddle and sang at fairs. On making further inquiries I found a second version of the song, the first verse and chorus of which I give, indicating the order and the lines of the verses to the end. [the Bampton version]'

Williams, Alfred: FSUT: 'The 'Prickly bush' exists in two versions. The complete copy printed I obtained of Mr Robert Little, of South Marston, Wiltshire. The song was a favourite of the gipsies who camped in Marston Lane when I was a boy. The principal gipsy, whose name was Archelaus, had three sons, namely Zephyrus, Adolphus and Job. They all slept together in a little twig tent, and lively chiefly on hedgehogs. The old man played the fiddle and sang at fairs.'

Note 2

There is a note in the file stating that the manuscript is missing.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.

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