Peggy Seeger's text appears to be a collation of two noted by Sharp in North Carolina (1916 and 1918). Because I find such things interesting, here are the two for comparison:
THE SHEFFIELD APPRENTICE
(Noted by Cecil Sharp from Mrs. Mary Sands at Allenstand, N.C, in 1916)
As I grew up in Boston in such a low degree,
My parents they adore me, no other child but me.
Unbeknownst to friends or parents, from them I stole my way,
And steered my course to London, and bitter be the day.
And when I got to London a fair lady met me there
And offered me in wages to live with her one year;
And offered me in wages fine house and fine land,
If I'd give consent and marry her, she'd be at my command.
I said : Dear Miss, excuse me, I cannot wed you both,
I'm promised to pretty Polly and bounded with an oath.
Then Miss she grew angry and from me fled away,
A-swearing by all her vengeance she'd be my overthrow.
I stepped out one evening to take the pleasant air,
I find Miss in the garden, a-viewing the lilies fair.
The gold rings on her fingers, as she come past by me,
She dropped them in my pocket, and for it I must die.
They put me on a east bound train one cold December day,
And every station I rode through I heard the people say:
Yonder goes a young man, in iron chains he's bound,
For some crime or other he's bound for Charlestown.
Here is my dear old father, he's pleading at the bar,
Likewise my aged mother pulling out grey locks of hair,
A-pulling out those old grey locks, the tears come trinkling down.
Son, O son, what have you done ? You're bound for Charlestown.
Then I was executed and on the gallows hung,
My friends and my relations all round me they did mourn,
And my father and my mother all round me they did cry.
Farewell, my dear old parents, now I am bound to die.
THE CORNWALL APPRENTICE
(Noted by Cecil Sharp from Mrs. Mary Gibson at Marion, N.C, in 1918)
I was brought up in Cornwall all in a high degree,
My parents they adored me, had no child only me.
I ripped, I roved, I rambled where-e'er my fancies led,
Till I became a 'prentice, and then my joys they fled.
The man that I was bound to he did not use me well,
I formed a resolution with whom not long to dwell.
Unbeknown to my poor parents from him I ran away,
I steered my course to London, and curs-ed be the day.
There were a lady in London, she chanced to spy me there,
She offered me great payments to dwell with me a year.
With her kind words and promises with her I did agree,
To go with her to London and stay with her a year.
I hadn't been in London but six months and a day,
When my foolish mistress grew very fond of me.
Her gold and silver, houses and her land,
If I'd consent to marry her, should be at my command.
O no, my honoured mistress, I cannot wed you,
For I have made a promise besides a solemn vow
To wed with none but Betsy, my beauteous honoured maid;
Pray excuse me, honoured mistress, she has my heart betrayed.
One morning as I walked out to take the pleasant air,
My mistress followed after me to view the lilies fair.
Gold rings off her fingers as she did pass me by
She slipped them in my pocket, and for them I must die.
The sheriff he came taken me, it was useless to say.
He took me up to justice and tried me before the mayor
He took me up to justice and to the gallows tree.
O Lord, reward my mistress, she surely wronged me.
The people they all came flocking in to see me in my life,
And there stood pretty Betsy, my own intended wife.
Farewell to sin and sorrow, I'll bid you all adieu,
Likewise fair pretty Betsy, I'll die for loving you.
The tunes are close, but both are interesting variants, so they're worth putting up. Until they get to the Mudcat Midi Pages, midis can be heard via the South Riding Folk Network site: