Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home

Origins: The Young and Single Sailor


Related thread:
Penguin: The Young And Single Sailor (1)

Bugsy 16 May 22 - 03:57 AM
Steve Gardham 16 May 22 - 08:25 AM
Joe Offer 16 May 22 - 12:20 PM
Joe Offer 16 May 22 - 12:22 PM
GUEST,Rory 07 Sep 22 - 12:46 AM
Share Thread
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum Child
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:

From: Bugsy
Date: 16 May 22 - 03:57 AM

I'm interested in the back story behind the origins of this song,(That I know as "A fair Maid Walking in her Garden").
I'm wondering if it came from the Time of Trafalgar or from some other war.
I'd like to know so that I can work the story into the introduction of the song which I really enjoy singing.

Any assistance would be appreciated.



Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 May 22 - 08:25 AM

The earliest datable street lit copy I have is dated 1802.
Its title is The Sailor's Return, printed in a chapbook by Robertson of Glasgow. You can look at it in the National Library of Scotland website LC2836 (18). Some kind person might do you a blue clicky. The chapbook is titled The Shepherd's Lament for the Loss of his Sweetheart.

However there may be earlier undated versions. I'll check later.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Young and Single Sailor
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 May 22 - 12:20 PM

Here are the lyrics from the Digital Tradition:


A fair maid walked all in her garden.
A brisk young sailor she chanced to spy.
He stepped up to her thinking to view her.
Says he: "Fair maid, could you fancy me?"

"Oh no young man, you're a man of honour,
A man of honour you seem to be.
So don't impose on a poor young woman
Who is scarce fitted your servant to be."

"If you tell me you're a poor young woman,
The more regard I shall have for you.
So come with me and I'll make you happy,
And you'll have servants for to wait on you.

"Oh no, young man, I have a sweetheart,
And seven long years he's away from me,
And seven more I will wait for him,
And if he's alive he will return to me."

"Oh, seven years makes an alteration.
Perhaps he's drowned and is now at rest."
"Then no other man shall ever join me,
For he's the darling boy that I love best."

He put his hand all in his pocket
His fingers being both long and small
Saying: "Here's the ring, love we broke between us
Soon as she saw it, then she down did fall

He took her close all in his arrums,
He gave her kisses by one, two, three,
Saying: "I'm your young and single sailor
That has come home for to marry thee."

From The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs
Collected from Mr. Burridge, Surrey, 1908
DT #462
Laws N42
@parting @reunion @token @sailor
filename[ JREILLY3

Popup Midi Player

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Young and Single Sailor
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 May 22 - 12:22 PM

There's a lengthy entry in the Traditional Ballad Index:

Pretty Fair Maid (The Maiden in the Garden; The Broken Token) [Laws N42]

DESCRIPTION: A girl refuses to be courted by a stranger, saying she will wait for her love. The stranger counters that he may be slain, drowned, or unfaithful; she says she will be faithful anyway. He pulls out his locket, revealing him as her lost, and now rich, love
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: courting separation brokentoken
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So,SW) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England(All),Scotland(Aber)) Ireland West Indies(Bahamas)
REFERENCES (68 citations):
Laws N42, "Pretty Fair Maid (The Maiden in the Garden; The Broken Token)"
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 148-151, "A Sweetheart in the Army" (3 texts plus references to 2 more, 1 tube)
Randolph 55, "The Maiden in the Garden" (3 texts plus 1 fragment and 1 excerpt, 2 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 97-99, "The Maiden in the Garden" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 55A)
Bronner/Eskin-FolksongAlivePart1 11, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio 51, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peters-FolkSongsOutOfWisconsin, pp. 165-166, "The Broken Ring" (1 text, 1 tune)
McIntosh-FolkSongsAndSingingGamesofIllinoisOzarks, pp. 45-47, "The Sailor and the Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 92, "A Pretty Fair Maid in the Garden" (1 text)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 12, "Madam, I Have Gold and Silver" (1 text, starting with "Wheel of Fortune" but ending with a "Ripest of Apples" verse and ending with a Riley stanza, from this or some other ballad of this type)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore4 92, "A Pretty Fair Maid Down in the Garden" (2 texts plus 12 excerpt, 14 tunes)
Chappell-FolkSongsOfRoanokeAndTheAlbermarle 68, "Betty Fair Miss" (1 text, 1 tune)
Jones-MinstrelOfTheAppalachians-Bascom-Lamar-Lunsford, p. 202, "The Pretty Fair Miss (Soldier's Return)" (1 text, 1 tune)
Smith-SouthCarolinaBallads, #XV, "A Pretty Fair Miss" (1 text, 1 tune)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #186, "Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts, 1 tune); #201, "Sailor's Return" (1 text, which opens with a "No, John, No" stanza)
Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 36, pp. 160-151, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text); also 37, pp. 151-152, "Annie Girl" (1 text, which conflates 2 verses of "The Drowsy Sleeper" [Laws M4], 2 or 3 of "Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)" or "No, John, No: or similar, and 3 verses probably of this)
Wolfe/Boswell-FolkSongsOfMiddleTennessee 72, pp. 118-119, "Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Burton/Manning-EastTennesseeStateCollectionVol1, pp. 80-81, "Lover's Return" (1 text, 1 tune)
Burton/Manning-EastTennesseeStateCollectionVol2, pp 7-9, "Pretty Fair Miss" (1 text, 1 tune); p. 89, "Pretty Fair Maiden" (1 short text)
Scarborough-ASongCatcherInSouthernMountains, pp. 260-264, "The True Sweetheart," "Pretty Fair Maid," "A Pretty Fair Damsel," "A Lily Fair Damsel," The True Sweetheart" (5 texts, mostly rather short; 4 tunes on pp.423-425); in addition, p. 265, "A Soldier Boy," opens with stanzas from this song, but the conclusion is "William Hall (The Brisk Young Farmer)" [Laws N30]
Roberts-SangBranchSettlers, #14, "Sweetheart in the Army" (1 short text, 1 tune, likely this although it's short enough -- just three verses about a lover in the army who might be dead -- that it might be a similar song)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 98, "The Broken Token" (6 texts, 6 tunes)
Creighton/Senior-TraditionalSongsOfNovaScotia, pp. 134-139, "Broken Ring Song" (5 texts, 2 tunes)
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia 28, "Broken Ring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-MaritimeFolkSongs, p. 59, "Broken Ring Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-FolksongsFromSouthernNewBrunswick 24, "Broken Ring Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Pottie/Ellis-FolksongsOfTheMaritimes, pp. 126-127, "Broken Ring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 584-589, "Seven Years I Loved a Sailor" (3 texts, 3 tunes; the "C" text, "Flowery Garden," grafts the "Poison in a Glass of Wine" theme (cf. "Oxford City" [Laws P30]) as the ending)
Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs 65, "The Sailor's Return" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie-BalladsAndSeaSongsFromNovaScotia 63, "The Single Sailor" (2 texts)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 701-703, "A Sweetheart in the Army" (2 texts)
Reeves-TheEverlastingCircle 15, "The Broken Token" (1 text)
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #71, "Fair Maid Walking in Her Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brocklebank/Kindersley-DorsetBookOfFolkSongs, p. 17, "A Fair Maid Walking All in Her Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
OLochlainn-IrishStreetBallads 2, "A Lady Fair" (1 text, 1 tune)
McBride-FlowerOfDunaffHillAndMoreTradSongsInnishowen 47, "The Lady Fair" (1 text, 1 tune)
OBoyle-TheIrishSongTradition, p. 34, "A Lady Fair" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
OCroinin/Cronin-TheSongsOfElizabethCronin 184, "There Was a Lady In Her Father's Garden" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Graham-Joe-Holmes-SongsMusicTraditionsOfAnUlsterman 45, "A Maid in a Floewery Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
OShaughnessy/Grainger-TwentyOneLincolnshireFolkSongs 7, "A Fair Maid Walking All in Her Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wyman/Brockway-LonesomeSongs-KentuckyMountains-Vol1, p. 88, "The Sweetheart in the Army" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fuson-BalladsOfTheKentuckyHighlands, pp. 77-78, "Soldier, Won't You Marry Me?" (1 text, in which, despite the title, the soldier asks the girl to marry, not the reverse)
Cambiaire-EastTennesseeWestVirginiaMountainBallads, pp. 64-65, "The Soldier's Return (A Pretty Fair Maid)" (1 text)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 83, "The Cowboy's Return" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-1ed, pp. 91-92, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-2ed, pp. 46-48, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Cazden/Haufrecht/Studer-FolkSongsOfTheCatskills 22, "Johnny Riley" (1 text, 1 tune)
McNeil-SouthernFolkBalladsVol1, pp. 80-81, "Miss Mary Belle" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag, pp. 68-69, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ord-BothySongsAndBallads, pp. 326-327, "The Brisk Young Sailor" (1 text)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #23, p. 1, "The Sailor" (1 text)
Greig/Duncan5 1038, "The Single Sailor" (26 texts plus a single verse on p. 617, 16 tunes)
Greig/Duncan6 1201, "She Put Her Hand into Her Bosom" (1 fragment)
Porter/Gower-Jeannie-Robertson-EmergentSingerTransformativeVoice #44, pp. 193-195, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 89, "Mary and Willie" (1 text)
VaughanWilliams/Lloyd-PenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs, pp. 104-105, "The Young and Single Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 625, "Maid and the Sailor"; Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 307, "Maid and the Sailor" (2 texts)
Abrahams/Foss-AngloAmericanFolksongStyle, pp. 117-118, "A Pretty Fair Miss All in a Garden" (1 text, 1 tune); also pp. 222-223 (1 tune, partial text)
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 92, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts plus mention of 4 more; the "B" text includes stanzas from "Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)")
Bush-FSofCentralWestVirginiaVol3, pp. 81-82, "A Pretty Fair Maiden In the Garden"; pp. 83-84, "A Pretty Fair Damsel" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, pp. 128-129, "The Fair Maid in the Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
Boette-SingaHipsyDoodle, p. 41, "A Pretty Fair Miss" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henry/Huntingdon/Herrmann-SamHenrysSongsOfThePeople H471, p. 317, "The Broken Ring" (1 text, 1 tune); also probably H818, pp. 317-318, "Green Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
MacColl/Seeger-TravellersSongsFromEnglandAndScotland 27, "The Sailor's Return" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
JournalOfAmericanFolklore, Elsie Clews Parsons, "Spirituals and Other Folklore from the Bahamas," Vol. 41, No. 162 (Oct-Dec 1928), Toasts and other verses: Abaco p. 467, ("One day I was walkin' along the street") (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: W. Christie, editor, Traditional Ballad Airs (Edinburgh, 1876 (downloadable pdf by University of Edinburgh, 2007)), Vol I, pp. 264-265, "The Poor and Single Sailor" (1 tune)
James P. Leary, Compiler and Annotator, _Wisconsin Folklore_ University of Wisconsin Press, 2009, article "Kentucky Folksong in Northern Wisconsin" by Asher E. Treat, p. 227, "A Fair Damsel in a Garden" (1 text, 1 tune, sung by Pearl Jacobs Borusky)

Roud #264
Clarence Ashley, "Pretty Fair Damsel" (on CloseHomeMS)
Acie Cargill, Debra Cowan, Kristina Olsen, "The Unbroken Token" (on HCargillFamily) [this versoin seems to have been somewhat rewritten by someone in the Tyler family]
Mary Cash, "Lady in Her Father's Garden" (on IRTravellers01)
Daisy Chapman, "The Poor and Single Sailor" (on SCDChapman01)
Elizabeth Cronin, "There Was a Lady In Her Father's Garden" (on IRECronin01)
Cousin Emmy [Cynthia May Carver], "Pretty Fair Miss Out In the Garden" (Decca 24213, 1947; on ConstSor1)
Louise Foreacre, "Down in Grandma's Garden" (on Stonemans01)
Warde & Pat Ford, "The Soldier's Sweetheart" (AFS 4204 B1, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Sarah Hawkes, "Returning Sweetheart" (on Persis1)
Roscoe Holcomb, "Fair Miss in the Garden" (on Holcomb1) (on FOTM)
Maggie Murphy, "Seven Years Since I Had a Sweetheart" (on IRHardySons)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Pretty Fair Miss Out in the Garden" (on NLCR06)
Dellie Norton, "Pretty Fair Miss in Her Garden" (on DarkHoll)
Sarah Anne O'Neill, "Standing in Yon Flowery Garden" (on Voice10)
Mrs. Clara Stevens, "Seven Years I Loved a Sailor" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Mrs. William Towns, "A Fair Maid Walked in her Father's Garden" (on Ontario1)
Doug Wallin, "Pretty Fair Miss in a Garden" (on Wallins1)
Martin Young & Corbett Grigsby, "Pretty Fair Miss in the Garden" (on MMOKCD)

Bodleian, Harding B 17(180a), "The Loyal Sailor," J. Ferraby (Hull), 1803-1838; also Harding B 11(4354), Firth c.12(335), "Young and Single Sailor"
cf. "John (George) Riley (I)" [Laws N36] and references there
cf. "The Bleacher Lassie" (tune, per Greig/Duncan5)
The Sailor's Return
The Single Soldier
John Riley (III)
Flowery Garden
The Sailor Boy
The Sailor's Return
Seven Years I Loved a Sailor
A Lady in Her Garden Walking
A Fair Maid
A Lady Walking
NOTES [547 words]: Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio's version of this piece may be the only one of these disguised love songs in which the man admits what he is: A creep who sneaks up on his faithful true love.
The second Sam Henry version, "Green Garden," is marked as Laws N42 but with a question mark. I understand the editors' hesitation, but there are enough links to other texts of the song that I think we can list it here. It's not as if we need another Broken Token ballad....
Paul Stamler suggested filing Art Thieme's song "That's the Ticket" here. Since this index occasionally pretends to something resembling scholarship, I couldn't bring myself to do it. But if you want to see the essence of Broken Token absurdity, that song (on Thieme03) probably sums it up as well as is humanly possible. - RBW
The last three verses of Mary Cash's version on IRTravellers01 are the "Phoenix Island" verses from "O'Reilly from the County Leitrim": as a result, the suitor is finally rejected. Jim Carroll's notes to IRTravellers01 cite another version from Mary Delaney who "had the suitor even more fimly rejected:
For it's seven years brings an alteration,
And seven more brings a big change to me,
Oh, go home young man,
choose another sweetheart,
Your serving maid I'm not here to be."
Mary Delaney's "Phoenix Island" on IRTravellers01 is even more extreme (see notes to "O'Reilly from the County Leitrim," which generally ends unfavorably for the suitor).
Greig/Duncan6 seems a poorly remembered fragment of the Laws N42 broken ring verse with sexes reversed: "She put her hand into her bosom With fingers neat and small And pulled out the gay gold ring I gave her at the ball" instead of "He put his hand into his pocket, His fingers they being long and small, Pulled out the ring that was broke between them; And when she saw it she down did fall." If there had been another verse there might have been a reason to assign it somewhere else. - BS
The motif of a virtuous girl in a garden is an ancient one. A source that would have been well-known in medieval times is that of Susanna, found in the apocryphal/deuterocanonical additions to the book of Daniel. This story invited elaboration -- and, indeed, we find such elaboration in the Middle English alliterative poem "A Pistel of Susan." This was popular enough to survive in five manuscripts (which is a substantial number), with the earliest being from the late fourteenth century (see Thorlac Turville-Petre, Alliterative Poetry of the Later Middle Ages: An Anthology, Routledge, 1989, p. 120).
On p. 121, Turville-Petre adds, "Susan is based on the story of Susan and the Elders.... The poet makes two notable alterations. In place of the account of how the Elders secretly burned with lust for Susan.... (Daniel xiii.10-14), the poet substitutes an extended description of Susan's garden (ll. 66-117). He also adds a moving stanza describing Susan's farewell-meeting with her husband Joachim after her condemnation (ll. 248-60). The effect of both alterations is to focus attention and sympathy on Susan."
On p. 122, Turville-Petre declares that the story in the Pistel makes Susan a romance heroine, from which it is only one step to a ballad. He also compares the story of Emily in Chaucer's Knight's Tale, lines 1034-1055. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.0
File: LN42

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Young and Single Sailor
From: GUEST,Rory
Date: 07 Sep 22 - 12:46 AM

Earliest known printing

"The Sailor's Return"

Second song in a Chapbook of six songs
Printer/Publisher: J. & M. Robertson (Glasgow)
Date: 1802

Held at the National Library of Scotland L.C.2836(18)

The Sailor's Return

A FAIR maid walking all in a garden,
a brisk young sailor she chanc’d to spy;
He stept up to her, thinking to have her,
said he, Fair maid, can you fancy I?

You seem to me some man of honour,
some man of honour you seem to me;
How can you impose on a poor young woman,
that is not fit your servant to be?

If you are not fit to be my servant,
I’ve got a great regard for thee;
I thought to marry you, make you my lady,
for I’ve got servants to wait on thee.

I have got a sweetheart all of my own, Sir,
and seven long years since he's gone from me;
And seven more I will wait for him,
if he’s alive, he’ll return to me.

If it be seven years sine your love went from you,
surely he’s either dead or drown’d.—
If he is alive, I love him dearly;
and if he’s dead, I can wish him rest.

But when he found that his Sally was faithful,
It's a pity that love should be cross'd,—
I am your poor and single sailor,
that oftentimes the wide ocean cross'd.

If you be my poor and single sailor,
shew me the token I gave to thee;
For seven years makes an alteration,
since my true love has gone from me.

He pull'd his hand out of his bosom,
his fingers being long and small;
He shew'd the ring that was broke between them—
no sooner she saw it, than down dis fall.

He took her up into his arms,
and gave her kisses, one, two, by three;
I am your poor and single sailor,
that's just return'd to marry thee.

So, hand in hand, they went together,
unto the church without delay;
Where there he marry'd his lovely Sally,
and made her his lady gay.

Further discussion can be found in this thread
There Was a Maid in Her Father's Garden


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")

Mudcat time: 30 May 11:39 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 2022 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.