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Origins: William and Nancy's Parting


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Lyr/Chords Req: Lisbon (2)
Penguin: Lisbon (1)

GUEST 19 Dec 13 - 12:57 AM
GUEST,AlanG at work 19 Dec 13 - 06:18 AM
Steve Gardham 19 Dec 13 - 02:58 PM
Joe Offer 17 Jul 14 - 03:39 PM
GUEST 25 Feb 20 - 01:31 PM
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Subject: Origins: William and Nancy's parting (Jones)
Date: 19 Dec 13 - 12:57 AM

Would like to know more about this great song. The only youtube video I can find is one by a man named Mike. I've been following his channel for a while but don't really know much about him. Anyway this is the song, thanks in advance for the wonderful history lesson I'm about to receive. Cheers

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Subject: RE: Origins: William and Nancy's parting (Jones)
From: GUEST,AlanG at work
Date: 19 Dec 13 - 06:18 AM

You'll find it at Round 551 in the VW memorial library.

Cecil Sharp collected Lisbon in 1904 from Mrs Lock of Muchelney Ham, Somerset. Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd included this version in 1959 in their book The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.

Nic Jones recorded this ballad as William and Nancy's Parting in 1971 for his eponymous second album, Nic Jones. He commented in the album notes:

The words of this are from a Manchester broadside. It follows a typical state of events when Nancy wants to go to the wars with William and he, for numerous reasons, some stated, some possibly unstated, wishes her to stay at home and wait for him to return. It closes with an optimistic prayer. As there was no tune given to the words, I adapted part of the tune called The Blackbird.

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Subject: RE: Origins: William and Nancy's parting (Jones)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Dec 13 - 02:58 PM

The only Manchester version I've got (printed by Swindells)is titled 'Lisbon Maid' and has the same 7 stanzas as 'William and Nancy's Parting' which I have as printed by Jackson of Birmingham. But of course there may be Manchester printings I haven't bothered to note down. A quick look at the Roud Broadside Index on the EFDSS website will confirm.

A no imprint version 'Lovely Nancy' 12 sts, can be seen on the Bodleian site at Harding B17 (175b) and there may be others there. The 5 titles to look for are Lisbon, Lisbon Maid, William and Nancy's Parting, William and Nancy, Lovely Nancy, however the sts of Lisbon crop up in a whole host of broadsides

Molly's Courtship to Sweet William
The Youthful Damsel
Molly & William
William & Nancy's Parting
Loyal Lovers
Soldier & his Darling etc.

There is even some overlap into ballads like 'Manchester Angel' 'Streams of Lovely Nancy'

Once a ballad started selling well the hacks were in there mixing and matching and pinching verses from one ballad to another.

Nic's adaptation to another tune is well in the tradition but he needn't have looked far for a good tune that went with the ballad.

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Subject: RE: Origins: William and Nancy's Parting
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Jul 14 - 03:39 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index has quite a lot on this song:

    William and Nancy (I) (Lisbon; Men's Clothing I'll Put On I) [Laws N8]

    DESCRIPTION: (William) has been ordered to war. His sweetheart (Nancy) offers to dress in men's clothes and accompany him. William says that Nancy is not strong enough; she assures him she will be. At last he agrees; they are married and go off together
    AUTHOR: unknown
    KEYWORDS: separation cross-dressing marriage war
    FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So) Britain(England(Lond,South),Scotland(Aber)) Canada(Mar,Newf) Ireland
    REFERENCES (21 citations):
    Laws N8, "William and Nancy (I) (Lisbon; Men's Clothing I'll Put On I)"
    Belden, pp. 177-180, "Lisbon" (3 texts, but the third is "The Girl Volunteer")
    Randolph 42, "Men's Clothing I'll Put On" (Of Randolph's six texts, Laws puts only "B," "D," and "E" -- the last with melody -- with this song. In fact any of these versions -- especially "B" and "E" -- might be part of "The Banks of the Nile." "A" definitely goes with that piece, and "C" and "F" go with "Jack Monroe")
    Chappell-FSRA 67, "Johnnie and Nancy" (1 text)
    FSCatskills 29, "It Was Early One Monday Morning" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Gardner/Chickering 61, "Williams and Nancy" (1 text plus mention of 1 more, though the second text has the title "The Banks of the Nile")
    Stout 32, p. 47, "William and Nancy" (1 fragment, possibly of this since it mentions Lisbon)
    Creighton/Senior, pp. 156-158, "William and Nancy" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
    Creighton-Maritime, p. 66, "It Was On One Monday Morning" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Peacock, pp. 202-205, "Jimmy and Nancy on the Sea" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
    Fowke/MacMillan 72, "Banks of the Nile" (1 text, 1 tune, considered by Fowke to be an abbreviated, localized version of "William and Nancy (I)" [Laws N8], but it could just as easily be a version of "The Banks of the Nile" [Laws N9])
    Mackenzie 35A, "William and Nancy" (1 text)
    SharpAp 121, "William and Polly" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
    Sharp/Karpeles-80E 34, "William and Polly (Lisbon)" (1 text, 1 tune, "slightly shortened")
    Fuson, pp. 67-68, "Sweet William" (1 text, a compound of the cross-dressing lover songs but more like this than any of the others)
    GreigDuncan1 63, "The Sailor and Nancy" (1 text)
    Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 58-59, "Lisbon" (1 text, 1 tune)
    OShaughnessy-Grainger 13, "Lisbon" (1 text, 1 tune)
    SHenry H561, p. 458, "Lovely Annie (I)" (1 text, 1 tune)
    BBI, ZN1749, "Margaret my sweetest, Margaret I must go" (listed as Laws N4 though the description sounds more like this piece)

    Roud #551
    Jim Dalton, "Jimmy and Nancy on the Sea" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
    Jim Molloy, "Lovely Nancy" (on NFMLeach)
    Lee Monroe Presnell, "I Went to See My Molly" (on USWarnerColl01 -- a short text, probably this although it has an American Civil War setting)

    Bodleian, Firth c.12(165), "William and Margaret" ("'Twas on a Monday, all in the month of May"), unknown, n.d.
    Murray, Mu23-y1:039, "William and Margaret," James Lindsay Jr. (Glasgow), 19C

    cf. "Jack Monroe" [Laws N7]
    cf. "The Banks of the Nile (Men's Clothing I'll Put On II)" [Laws N9]
    cf. "High Germany (I)"
    cf. "The Girl Volunteer (The Cruel War Is Raging)" [Laws O33]
    NOTES: The Sacred Harp has a tune "Lisbon" which, like many versions of this song, is in triple time. But based on the versions I've checked, they do not appear to be the same melody. - RBW
    In at least some versions Nancy must assure William that she will accept his affairs with other women.
    In OShaughnessy-Grainger, "If I should meet with a lady that's proper tall and gay / If I should fancy her, love, what would you have to say? / Would you not be offended thyen? O no my lover true / I'd stand aside sweet William whenever she pleasur'd you."
    Mackenzie has "But if I was to meet some other in sweeter charms than thee / And she was to please my fancy what would my Nancy say? / What would I say dear Willie and I would love her too / And I would gently step aside while she would be talking to you." Here, but not in OShaunessy-Grainger, Willie says, "Dear Nancy all these words are enough to break my heart / Pray let us then be married before that we depart."
    SharpAp A is equivocal: "O if I was to meet some pretty girl / All on the highway / And was to take a like unto her / What would my Polly say / My Polly she'd be angry / Although I love her too / I'd step aside Sweet William / That she might comfort you."
    Peacock A has a stronger rejection: "Besides there are pretty girls over there both bonny brisk and gay / If I should go a-courting what would my Nancy say? / Sure I would say dear Jimmy I am in love with you / So stay at home dear Jimmy when they are pressing you."
    Other similar versions include Belden A, Chappell-FSRA, Creighton/Senior, FSCatskills, Gardner/Chickering, GreigDuncan1, Peacock B, SHenry, and Vaughan Williams/Lloyd.
    Versions with no such complication include Creighton-Maritime, Fowke/MacMillan, Randolph, SharpAp B and C, Sharp-Karpeles-80E and the broadsides Bodleian Firth c.12(65) and Murray Mu23-y1:039. - BS
    Last updated in version 3.2
    File: LN08

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    The Ballad Index Copyright 2014 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

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Subject: RE: Origins: William and Nancy's Parting
Date: 25 Feb 20 - 01:31 PM

With regard to the comments about the Grainger/O'Shaughnessy version, the text used is, with the exception of verse one, is from the Somerset version collected by Cecil Sharp from Mrs Lock of Muchelney Ham. Mr Deene (Dean) sang these words:

“Tis on The Monday morning”

Tis on the Monday morning
Before the break of day,
Our ship she weighed her anchor
All for to sail away.

The wind it blew from the south west
For Lisbon we was bound
The hills and dales were garnish-ed
With pretty young girls around

It’s of a tender young man
Who’s in his blooming youth
He went to his own lover’s house
In bitter sighs and tears

He went to his own lover’s house
To let her understand
That he was bound to leave his love
Unto some distant land

Oh William, dearest William
Those words will break my heart
Let you and I get married love
Before that we do part

For six long months and longer
I’ve been in love by you
Oh stay at home dear William,
Be kind and marry me

Oh no my dearest Polly
That never can be (so)
For the Queen is in the wants of men
And I for one must go
And for my very life my love
I dare not answer no

That I’ll cut off my curly locks
Fresh clothing I’ll put on
And I’ll go along with you
And be yr wedded man

Your waist it is so slender love
Your fingers long and small
I’m afraid you wouldn’t answer me
When on you I sh’ call.

Recording Transcription by Ruairidh Greig from Grainger phonograph

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