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Origins: Lads of Virginia

DigiTrad:
WEARY IN VIRGINNY, O


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Virginia (9)
Chord Req: Virginia (12)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Australia (see thread for multiple versions - history see also Lads of Virginia See also Weary in Virginny, O)
The Lads of Virginia (see thread for multiple versions see also Australia see also Weary in Virginny,O)


Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Dec 01 - 01:21 AM
masato sakurai 12 Dec 01 - 03:25 AM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Dec 01 - 06:36 AM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Dec 01 - 08:37 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Dec 01 - 10:30 AM
Stewie 12 Dec 01 - 10:39 AM
masato sakurai 12 Dec 01 - 10:56 AM
masato sakurai 12 Dec 01 - 11:27 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 12 Dec 01 - 03:03 PM
Snuffy 12 Dec 01 - 07:36 PM
Malcolm Douglas 13 Dec 01 - 05:12 AM
The Walrus 13 Dec 01 - 04:51 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 13 Dec 01 - 09:04 PM
GUEST,MCP 15 Dec 01 - 04:53 AM
Malcolm Douglas 15 Dec 01 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,MCP 15 Dec 01 - 07:23 AM
Barry Finn 15 Dec 01 - 08:39 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 15 Dec 01 - 09:06 AM
Malcolm Douglas 15 Dec 01 - 09:59 AM
Barry Finn 15 Dec 01 - 12:37 PM
Malcolm Douglas 15 Dec 01 - 10:59 PM
Barry Finn 25 Nov 06 - 11:40 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Nov 06 - 02:58 PM
Malcolm Douglas 25 Nov 06 - 08:06 PM
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Subject: Virginia Lags - History?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 01:21 AM

Would like help on the background of this song, posted by Barry a long time ago (1997). Is any part of it traditional? Who (if not trad.) wrote the music?
I changed the name of the thread so it will come up if someone searches on the proper name of the song, as given in later posts. --JoeClone


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Subject: RE: Virginia Lags - History?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 03:25 AM

The original thread is HERE.
~Masato


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Subject: Lyr Add: VIRGINNY and AUSTRALIA
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 06:36 AM

The song certainly began life as a broadside, though I can't say when.  Such and Pitt both issued it; copies can be seen at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The lads of Virginia  Printed between 1863 and 1885 by H. Such, Machine Printer, & Publisher, 177, Union- street, Boro'., S.E. [London]

The lads of Virginia  Printed between 1819 and 1844 by Pitts, Printer, wholesale Toy and Marble warehouse, 6, Gt. St. Andrew Street, Seven Dials [London]

George B. Gardiner and Chas. Gamblin noted a set from Mrs. Goodyear of Axford, Hampshire, in 1907, so the song was certainly circulating in oral tradition at that time, though I think it has only been found twice in Britain.  Barry, who posted a longer text in the thread Masato has pointed to, named no source for it, but said that it dated "to pre 1775", though he offered no evidence.  It probably came from a broadside, being quite close to those mentioned above.

Of the Hampshire set (which is the one Martin Carthy recorded, though he edited it in places so that it made better sense), Frank Purslow (Folk Music Journal, Vol. I no.3, 1967) commented:

"This rather corrupt, and presumably incomplete text is the only one I have seen, although it is certainly of broadside origin.  The metre is unusual and gives the impression that there should be two more lines to each verse.  Dr. Gardiner draws attention to the "local mannerism" in the tune: the first two notes in the seventh complete bar and the last two notes.  This occurs often in Mrs. Goodyears's tunes and in those of other singers in the area. "

VIRGINNY

(Noted from Mrs. Goodyear of Axford, by Basingstoke, Hampshire, in 1907 by George B. Gardiner and Chas. Gamblin)

Come all you young fellows wheresoever you might be,
Come listen awhile and I'll tell you,
There's many a young fellow myself I have seen,
More fitting to serve Victoria our Queen;
But those hard-hearted judges so cruelly has been,
For to send us poor lads to Virginny.

When we arrived in Virginny, that old, ancient place,
Which now I renown in my story,
Our captain he stands with a rod in his hand,
To bargain for us like slaves out of bond,
When he saw those young fellows a-ploughing the main,
How hard was my fate in Virginny!

Old England, old England, I shall never see no more,
If I do, it's ten thousand to twenty,
For my fingers are rotting and my bones they are sore,
I wander about, I'm brought down to death's door,
But, If I only live to see seven years more,
I will then bid adieu to Virginny.

A midi of the tune made from Chas. Gamblin's notation goes to  Mudcat Midis;  in the meantime it can be heard care of the  South Riding Folk Network  site:

Virginny.mid

The other example was recorded from Bob Hart of Snape, Suffolk in 1973, by Tony Engle (and, a few years earlier, by Rod and Danny Stradling); by this time it had become Australia rather than Virginny, but it's recognisably the same song, though much changed (Steve Roud's Folksong Index actually assigns it a different type number).  It has also been recorded from Percy Ling and Cyril Poacher, but they all used to hang out in the same pub, so it can be treated as a single variant for practical purposes.

AUSTRALIA

(Noted from Bob Hart of Snape, Sussex in 1973 by Tony Engle)

Come all you young fellows, wheresoe'er you may be,
Come listen awhile to my story.
When I was a young man, my age seventeen,
I oughtn't a' been serving Victoria, our queen,
But those hard hearted judges, oh how cruel they be,
To send us poor lads to Australia.

I fell in with a damsel, she was handsome and gay,
I neglected my work more and more every day;
And to keep her like a lady I went on the highway,
And for that I was sent to Australia.

Now the judges they stand with their whips in their hand,
They drive us like horses to plough up the land;
Youi should see us poor fellows, working in that jail yard,
How hard is our fate in Australia.

Australia, Australia, I would ne'er see no more,
Worn out with the fever, cast down to death's door;
But should I live to see, say, seven years more,
I would then say adieu to Australia.

This text was published in Everyman's Book of English Country Songs (Roy Palmer, 1979).  Palmer commented:

" The loss of the American colonies deprived the British Government of a place of exile for convicts.  As an alternative, transportation to Australia was started in 1787.  It was successively abolished by New South Wales (1840), Van Dieman's Land, which changed its name to Tasmania at the same time (1852), and finally by Western Australia (1868).

Historians differ as to whether transportation was a severe punishment for convicts, or a favourable opportunity for them to begin a new life, but the popular tradition is unequivocal: for many generations after its abolition, songs and stories continued to express the people's fear and loathing."

A midi of the tune made from the notation in the above book goes to  Mudcat Midis;  in the meantime it can be heard care of the  South Riding Folk Network  site:

Australia.mid  The first verse is two lines longer than the others, which begin at the third line (9th bar).

It has been suggested that at least some transportation songs were a conscious affort by the authorities at deterring crime; an exaggeratedly horrific picture was painted in order to frighten potential offenders.  I have no idea if this is true, but it is an interesting thought.

Though largely forgotten now, this song must have been reasonably well-known in order to have been found, sung to the same tune (though changed) in Hampshire and Suffolk sixty years apart.  As to whether the text in the older thread is traditional in whole or in part, I can't say, but it is certainly the case that the song entered oral tradition at some point and persisted in it for at any rate a century and a half.


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Subject: RE: Virginia Lags - History?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 08:37 AM

Actually there is one source which might provide more evidence of the song's age; C.H. Firth's An American Garland; Being a Collection of Ballads relating to America, 1563-1759 (Oxford, 1915) contains a copy of Lads of Virginia.  I haven't seen the book, so I don't know whether the period indicated in the title refers to the texts themselves or to the events they describe, but that would seem to be your best chance of taking the history of the song back beyond the second decade of the 19th century.  The book was reprinted in 1969 by Singing Tree (Detroit) and some libraries will have copies lurking about.


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Subject: RE: Virginia Lags - History?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 10:30 AM

Malcolm, thank you for your considerable assistance. I had tried the Bodleian using "Virginia" and "Virginny" with no results- I should have tried the first line.
I have not found any evidence of the song in the United States, and that set off my inquiry. The tune, from your evidence, is the one offered by Gamblin in 1907 for "Virginny."
Is any evidence of the song in America before its relatively modern introduction by folksingers?
Your posting also led me to the words for "The Buffalo" and "The Banks of the O hi O," two related songs of English origin, which also may have had no currency in America. Thanks for this also.


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Subject: RE: Virginia Lags - History?
From: Stewie
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 10:39 AM

In relation to transportation to Australia, the following study may be of interest to some. It is a limited edition (350 copies), some of which no doubt would have made their way to major overseas (from Oz) libraries:

Hugh Anderson 'Farewell to Judges and Juries: The Broadside Ballad and Convict Transportation to Australia 1788-1868' Red Rooster Press, 2000, 646pp. (ISBN 0 908247 40 0).

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Virginia Lags - History?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 10:56 AM

Roy Palmer says in another book The Sound of History: Songs and Social Comment (Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 147) as follows:

The change of destination from America to Australia was easily managed, simply by reissuing old sheets with the names changed. Thus, James Revel's adventures were transferred from Virginia to Botany Bay, and to add verisimilitude, firm dates of 1806-21 were added to the title. The same process was at work in oral tradition. A broadside entitled 'The Lads of Virginia' (see illustration), which must date from before 1776, was reissued several times in the nineteenth century, and also circulated orally until at least 1907. It gave rise to 'Australia', an adaptation differing only in name, which, although it does not seem to have been printed, remained in oral tradition until at least 1970s. Such remaking of songs, often with minimal changes, was common. It ensured that an attitude, or complex of attitudes, once established, would persist for some time. In this way ballads not only reflected social history, but also affected it.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Virginia Lags - History?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 11:27 AM

Also in Roy Palmer, A Ballad History of England from 1588 to the Present Day (B.T. Batsford, 1979, p. 67), with words and music; the tune "was taken down from a Hampshire woman in 1907" (see Malcolm's post above).
~Masato


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Subject: RE: Virginia Lags - History?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 03:03 PM

The Buffalo, and The Banks of the Ohio, mentioned above were posted by Radriano in the thread Lyr req: Shoot the Buffalo. Banks of the Pleasant Ohio, in the DT, is a version of the same song. Their broadsides were printed in the same period as The Lads of Virginia, although the last treats of events of an earlier period.
None of these songs seem to have caught on in America, and may never have been distributed there.


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Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: AUSTRALIA
From: Snuffy
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 07:36 PM

Thanks for clearing up a mystery. I have a recording from the '80s of Geoff Ling (any relation of Percy?) of Blaxhall, near Snape.
When I was a young man, and about seventeen,
I was ordered to fight for Victoria, our queen,
But to keep her like a lady I went on that highway,
And for that I was sent to Australia.

Australia, Australia, how we worked in that land,
They drove us like horses to plough up their land;
You should've seen us poor fellows, oh, how cruel were they
How hard is our fate in Australia.

Australia, Australia, I shall ne'er see no more,
I'm ate up with fever, brought down to death door;
But if ever I should live to see seven years more,
I will then bid adieu to Australia.

From Songs sung in Suffolk, Vol 3. Veteran Tapes VT103. (Field recordings 1985-87 by John Howson). Sung by Geoff Ling of Blaxhall, Suffolk.

The first verse didn't seem to make sense (going on the highway to keep Queen Victoria like a lady), but from Malcolm's postings it seems that this Mr Ling has telescoped the first two verses to make a single non-sensical one.

Mr Ling's tune is almost identical to Australia.mid as posted by Malcolm - the only significant difference is the ending of the second line.

X: 219
T:Australia
M:3/4
L:1/8
Q:1/4=100
N:From Geoff Ling of Blaxhall, Suffolk, 1980s. Taped by John Howson.
K:C % 0 sharps
z2 z2 G2|
c3 B c2|G2 B2 AB|c2 A2 F2|E4 GG|
c2 B2 c2|A2 G3 E|G2 G2 E2|D4 Bc|
d2 B2 AA|Gc3 ed|c2 A2 F2|E4 DD|
C2 c2 B2|A2 F3 D|B,2 C4-|C2 z2 z2||




WassaiL! V


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 05:12 AM

inadvertently, and incorrectly, credited Percy Ling with a recording of Australia in my earlier post; it should have been Geoff Ling, of course. Interrelationships between the various Ling families around Blaxhall and Snape are rather complex.  Geoff Ling and Cyril Poacher were first cousins; Percy Ling was their second-cousin.  Bob Hart and Cyril Poacher both learned Australia from an older man, Bob Scarce, whose repertoire appears to have been quite extensive.  Geoff may also have learned it from him, but the song wasn't listed as being in his repertoire when Ginette Dunn was compiling her study of singing in the area during the mid '70s.

What with all those collectors showing up at the Ship, and some of them getting record deals from Topic and the like, there was a certain amount of scrambling around for extra material, which might explain Geoff's mis-remembered set.  Songs tended to "belong" to certain singers, too, and with Bob and Cyril both having the song, there may have been no opportunity for Geoff to perform it socially, which might also explain his forgetting part of the text and a little of the tune.

Ginette Dunn's book The Fellowship of Song (Croom Helm 1980) is something you really should read if you're interested in that area; it also has a lot of very useful things to say about the social contexts of song performance and transmission, and about song ownership in traditional communities.  All the above information came from there.

Not that this advances the question of the history of the song; although it does further confirm that the Hart/Ling/Poacher recordings of Australia can be considered together as all derived from the same prior source.


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: The Walrus
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 04:51 PM

I don't know if this is relevent, but the only times I've heard "Virginny" sung, the line
"More fitting to serve George our King;
( or "More fitting to serve Victoria our Queen;")
it's been replaced by
"More fitted to serve than to die on a string"
I don't know if it is a "modern" substitution, but it is certainly in keeping with the use of Transportation as an altrnative to execution.

Regards

Walrus


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LADS OF VIRGINIA
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 09:04 PM

On 22-Sep-97, Barry Finn posted Lyr Add: Virginia Lags (Masato gives the clickie above). Six of the 7 verses are quite similar to those in one of the broadsides from the Bodleian Library, pointed to by Masato, dated 1820-1855, entitled The Lads of Virginia. Although the wavy symbol appears by the title, the song has never been put in DT. The title, (and copyright of the version?) are probably Barry Finn's. It seems to be more singable than the originals.
Perhaps unnecessarily, I am giving the old broadside version here. It is speculated that the song is 18th C., which is likely, but the story in the song is the only evidence for that. Suitable music is indicated by Masato Sakurai and Malcolm Douglas.

ADD: THE LADS OF VIRGINIA

Come all you young fellows wherever you be,
Come listen awhile and I'll tell you,
Concerning the hardships that we undergo,
When we get lagg'd to Virginia.

Such clever young fellows myself I have seen,
That is more fitting to serve George our king,
Those hard hearted judges so cruel have been,
To lag us poor lads to Virginia.

When I was apprentice in fair London town,
Many hours I served duly and truly,
Till those buxom young lasses they led me astray,
My work I neglected more and more every day,
And for to maintain it went on the highway,
By that I got lagged to Virginia.

When we came to Virginia that old ancient town,
The place that is so much admired,
Where the captain he stands with the cane in his hand
And our aching hearts before him doth stand,
With the tears in out eyes in a foreign land,
Was sold for a slave in Virginia.

When I was in England I could live at my ease,
Rest my bones down on soft feathers,
But now in Virginia I lay like a hog,
Our pillow at night is a brick or a log,
We dress and undress like some other (old) hog,
How hard is my fate in Virginia.

Old England! Old England! I shall never see you more,
If I do its ten thousand to twenty,
My bones are quite rotten, my feet are quite sore,
I'm parched with the fever and am at death's door,
But if ever I live to see seven years more,
Then I'll bid adieu to Virginia.

In Barry's version, the captain stands with a whip in his hand, which is unlikely. The cane was a symbol of authority. The captain would order punishment, but it was not his job. I have put (old) where a word is not properly typeset. One verse is separated into two in Barry's posting; the image "With a jug in me hand and a girl on my knee, I thought myself fit for all weather," has obviously been added for effect.
It is doubtful that the song was sung in America before the 20th century folk singers picked it up. Our ideas of the time are somewhat rose-tinted because of the popularity of "Moll Flanders," in the novel (and later movie) transported to America with her also transported lover, and who became wealthy in Virginia.


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Subject: Lyr Add: LADS OF VIRGINIA & WHEN THAT I WAS WEARY
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 15 Dec 01 - 04:53 AM

The following version is from Holloway & Black, Later English Broadside Ballads:

The LADS OF VIRGINIA
Printed and sold by Jennings, Water-lane, Fleet street

You young fellows all that around me do sit,
Come listen awhile and I'll tell ye,
Concerning the hardships we do undergo,
When we get lagg'd to Virginia;
Such clever young fellows myself I have seen,
That is more fitting to serve George our King,
These hard-hearted judges so cruel have been,
To lag us poor lads to Virginia.

In the city of London I served my time,
Many hours serv'd duly and truly,
Till those buxom young lasses led me astray,
My work I neglected more and more every day
And for to maintain it went on the highway,
By that I got lagg'd to Virginia.

When we came to Virginia that old ancient town,
They us'd us like sheep among drovers,
Where the captain he stands with his cane in his band
When our aching hears before him does stand
With tears in our eyes in a foreign land,
Was sold for slaves in Virginia.

When I was in England I could live at my ease
Rest my bones on soft downy feathers,
Every morning a glass of port red,
I thought myself fit for all weathers,
But now in Virginia we lay like a dog
Our pillow at night is a brick or a log;
We dress and undress like some other sea hog,
How hard is our fate in Virginia.

Old England, Old England I shall never see more,
If I do it's ten thousand to twenty;
My bones are quite rotten, my feet is quite sore
I'm parch'd with the fever and am at death's door,
But if ever I live to see seven years more,
Then I'll bid adieu to Virginia.

Notes:
Transportation of criminals to the American colonies was established in the late seventeenth century, and between 1768 and 1776 wa practiced on a large scale. This ballad must have been composed before the War of Independence. Several lines (e.g. line 1) suggest that it was composed and first sung in the colony, and brought back later to Britain... Virginia, pronounced 'Virginy', accent here on the second syllable...'


And on a related topic, this is from Stubbs & Richards The English Folk Singer:


WHEN THAT I WAS WEARY
Give ear unto a maid that lately was betrayed
And sent into Virginny O.
In brief I shall declare what I have suffered there,
When that I was weary, weary, weary, weary O.

It's since that first I came unto this land of fame
Which is called Virginny O,
The axe and the hoe have wrought my overthrow
When that I was weary, weary, weary, weary O.

Five years and more served I all under Master Guy
In the land of Virginny O,
Which made me for to know sorrow, grief and woe
When that I was weary, weary, weary, weary O.

O when my dame says go, it's then I must do so
In the land of Virginny O.
When she sits at meat then I have none to eat
When that I am weary, weary, weary, weary O.

Instead of beds of ease to lie down when I please
In the land of Virginny O.
Upon a bed of straw I lie down full of woe
When that I am weary, weary, weary, weary O.

Oh I have played my part both at plough and cart
In the land of Virginny O.
Billets from the wood upon my back they load
When that I am weary, weary, weary, weary O.

And when the mill doth stand I'm ready at command
In the land of Virginny O.
The mortar for to make which makes my heart to ache
When that I am weary, weary, weary, weary O.

And when the child doth cry I must sing bye-a-bye
In the land of Virginny O.
No rest that I can have while I am here a slave
When that I am weary, weary, weary, weary O.

But if it be my chance homeward to advance
In the land of Virginny O,
If that I once more should land on England's shore
I'll no more be weary, weary, weary, weary O.

Notes:
Broadside ballad in the Douce collection. Also in Pepys, Crawford And Roxburgh. Tune fitted by Sam Richards.
The Roxburgh copy tells us that this ballad was printed c.1690. The Virginia Company was formed in 1606, and the government offered incentives for traders and colonizers to go there. One way of providing labourers for the colony was simply to kidnap and sell into slavery any victims that could be conveniently seized, and petty criminals were given transportation sentences as well. This system had ceased by the end of the century, although white slavery (euphemistically referred to as 'indentured servitude' in old history books) continued for some time. The broadside copies have 16 verses. We have found that slightly long for modern audiences.


Perhaps Malcolm's (seemingly) limitless resources can stretch to one of the originals.

Having just written that, I find there is already a 15 verse versio in the DT as Weary In Virginny O from Silverman's American History Songbook. I leave the above as a modern rendering and add the (different) tune used by Sam Richards.
Mick


Give/ear un-to a maid that/ late-ly was be-trayed
And/ sent in-to Vir-/gin-ny O.
In/brief I shall de-clare what/I have suf-fered there,
When that/I was wea-ry, wea-ry, wea-ry,/wea-ry O.

X: 1
T:When That I Was Weary
M:4/4
L:1/8
C:Tune fitted by Sam Richards
K:Dm
A|G>F E>F D3 A|G> F E> F D3
D|(D>E) (F>G) (A>B) (A>G)|A2 d2 d3
c| d> c d> c A3 A| G> A G> F E2
F> E|D> E F> G A> G F> G|A2 D2 D3||


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 15 Dec 01 - 06:30 AM

As When that I was Weary doesn't seem to have been found in tradition in the UK, it's a pity that the DT Weary in Virginny O gives no information at all about Silverman's source for the song, and whether or not the tune (a Peggy of Derby tune, isn't it?) is traditionally associated with it, or just bolted on like Sam Richards'.  Richards gave no source for his tune, either; the second part is naggingly familiar, but I can't put my finger on it just now.  You can see a broadside printing at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads :

The trappan'd maiden: or, The distressed damsel  Printed between 1689 and 1709 "by and for W.Onley and sold by A. Bettesworth, on London bridge", with the preamble:

This girl was cunningly trappan'd,
Sent to Virginny from England;
Where she doth Hardship undergo,
There is no Cure, it must be so;
But if she lives to cross the Main,
She vows she'll ne'r go there again.


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 15 Dec 01 - 07:23 AM

I assumed given the length, and now having compared it with your version in the Bodleian (I was having trouble with response from the Bodleian (or my server) when I was looking last night) which is word for word the same (including the spelling plow omitting 1 of the broadside verses, that the Silverman text was manuscript rather than oral, with tune appended by him. But I agree it would be nice to know.

Mick


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LADS OF VIRGINIA
From: Barry Finn
Date: 15 Dec 01 - 08:39 AM

Amazing, Ive learned more about this song in this one thread than I have since I've been singing it. Thank you all.
My source was Ewan MaColl maybe 22 yrs ago in L.A. at a real cozy house concert. I just happened to be identified as the person who had travelled the farest to hear him (I was just travelling around) so they approched me (I thought it pretty damn nice of them to have picked on the one lone stranger in the place) & we got to chatting about different trades, myself being a roofer & he having worked at some point as a stone mason & how some of the trades were dying (he & Peggy were very nice & I was shocked that they even were talking to me). I've only recently heard another singing this & that was on a tape my brother-in-law sent to me from San Francisco. Martin Carthy I believe sings an Australian version of this which, if I had to guess, would be a more recent version. My only source of dating it was from MaColl himself. I've always thought that lagg'd was how it was sung but it seems as if lads was also used, any thoughts. I'll mark out the slight differences from the one posted by Guest MCP. If I can properly remember.

THE LADS OF VIRGINIA

Come all you young fellows wherever(where ere) you be,
Come listen awhile and I'll tell you(thee),
Concerning the hardships that we undergo,
When we get (That) lagg'd (us poor lads)to Virginia.

Such clever young fellows myself I have seen,
(Like scarecrows a dragging their chains on the green)
That is more fitting to serve George our king,
(Those hard hearted duties so cruel & mean)
Those hard hearted judges so cruel have been,
To (That) lag us poor lads to Virginia.

When I was apprentice in fair London town,
Many Manys the hour) hours I served (worked) duly and truly,
Till those buxom young lasses they led me astray,
My work I neglected more and more every day,(neglected more every day)
And for to maintain it(I) went on the highway,
By that I got lagged to Virginia.

When we came to Virginia that old(famous) ancient(old) town,
The place that is so much admired,
Where the captain he stands with the cane(whip) in his hand
(And I with a heart full of sorrow did stand)
And our aching hearts before him doth stand,
With the tears in out(me) eyes in a (this damn) foreign land,
Was sold for a slave in Virginia.

When I was in England I could live at my ease,
Rest my bones down( head on A bed of soft feather) on soft feathers,
(With a jug in me hand & a girl on me knee, I thought myself fit for all weather)

But now(here) in Virginia I lay like a hog,
Our(my) pillow at night is a brick or a log,
(We scratch for our vittles like some hungry dog)
We dress and undress like some other (old) hog,
(in this damndable place call Virginny)
How hard is my fate in Virginia.

Old England! Old England! I shall(ne're)never see you more,
If I do its ten thousand to twenty,
My bones are quite rotten, my feet are quite sore,
I'm parched(burned up) with the fever and am(I live) at death's door,
But if ever I live to see seven years more,
Then I'll bid adieu to Virginia.

Thanks to you all again for all the info on this. Barry


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Dec 01 - 09:06 AM

So far, no Colonial American or 19C. evidence for these songs in America. I will add Weary in Virginny, O to the origins compilation being done by George Seto and Katlaughing. Thanks for coming back on this one, Barry.


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 15 Dec 01 - 09:59 AM

Barry: what tune did MacColl use?  Was it at all similar to any of the midis I put up earlier?  As I think I also mentioned earlier, Carthy recorded an edited form of Mrs. Goodyear's Virginny; there are no Australian versions so far as I know.  Carthy mentioned Bob Hart's Australia variant in his sleeve-notes, which is probably where the confusion arose.


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 15 Dec 01 - 12:37 PM

Hi Malcolm & thanks for all your input here & elsewhere. If I'm not confused (over this amount of time it wouldn't be hard for me) about the sleeve-notes I'll straighten it up. The tune I have I don't recall it as the same as Cathy's, I can't recall if it's even close but I think I have it somewhere on LP, if I do I'll give it another listen. Sorry Malcolm I don't know how to send/write/read any midi's or any other transcriptions of music. Barry


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 15 Dec 01 - 10:59 PM

The notes to  Cyril Poacher: Plenty of Thyme  (Musical Traditions MT CD 303 ) make more clear the transmission of Australia; apparently Bob Hart and Bob Scarce both learned it from Walter Friend; Cyril Poacher (and probably Geoff Ling) had it from Bob Scarce.  I quote the notes from the  Musical Traditions  CD here:

17 Australia (Roud 1488)
(Recorded by Tony Engle at Grove Farm, Blaxhall, September 1974. Track 30 recorded by Ginette Dunn at Grove Farm, Blaxhall, 10.9.74)

Cyril Poacher and his neighbour Bob Hart both had this song. Cyril learned it from Bob Scarce, who probably learned it, as did Hart, from Walter 'Yinka' Friend - with whom both of them worked for many years in Snape Maltings. Listeners may find it of interest to compare Cyril's singing of the song with that of Bob Hart on the latter's double CD,  A Broadside  (MT CD 301/2)

Cyril Poacher - "Walter was a damn good singer and he played the tin whistle too. He was the first one to sing Green Bushes and Australia."

George Ling - "John Thurston was another - he sang Australia - but that was Yinka's song, I think."

It is one of a considerable number of transportation songs in the traditional repertoire, but is unusual in the nature and motive of the crime - highway robbery, 'to keep her like a lady'. More often it's poaching - brought about by necessity. Contrary to certain record sleeve-notes, the song owes little to Van Dieman's Land, but is clearly derived from a much earlier song called Virginny (a fragment of which was collected from Mrs Goodyear, of Ashford, Hants by George Gardiner in 1907), with the transports' destination having been changed to Australia when this became current (i.e. post 'First Fleet'). This explains why the song is unusual; in the 18th century highwaymen were transported to Virginia - in the 19th they were topped!
The process of keeping songs up-to-date goes on - I have one version on tape where Cyril sings the second stanza of the first verse:

For when I was a young man, my age seventeen,
I ought to been serving Elizabeth, our Queen ...

-Rod Stradling, 1999.

You can -for the moment- hear a brief soundclip of Bob Hart singing Australia at The Musical Traditions site:

Australia  [Real Audio].


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 11:40 AM

Hi Malcom
I just now listened to Martin Carthy's version & it's not the same tune, I also gave a listen to the midi's & they're closer to what Carthy does. The above link to Australia - real audio- is no longer available so I can't check that.
I've never heard the tune used to another song so I can't give any direction there either.
If anyone can take what I could sing into a phone & make something out of that I'd be happy to make the call if they'd just PM me their #.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 02:58 PM

Far up this thread, Malcolm Douglas mentioned that C. H. Firth's "An American Garland" might provide evidence of the song's age. On p. xxxiv, Firth says, "'The Lads of Virginia' is another eihteenth century ballad, though, as in the previous case, a corrupt nineteenth century reprint seems to be the only version in existence."
On p. 72-73, he reproduces the broadside printed in London by H. Such.
There is little in this that differs from other 19th c. versions posted above.

C. H. Firth, 1915, "An American Garland being a Collection of Ballads Relating to America 1563-1759," Orford.


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Subject: RE: Lads of Virginia - History?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 08:06 PM

Thanks for clearing up that loose end.

I had forgotten about this old discussion; one or two further details can be addressed now.

Mick's post, 15 December 2001: Jennings of Water Lane doesn't seem to have been in business prior to 1790, so if there was an edition of 1775 or before, it isn't the one quoted by Holloway and Black. I'd quarrel with their suggestion that "it was composed and first sung in the colony, and brought back later to Britain"; it was written as if that were the case, but that was just a common convention.

There may very well have been an earlier edition, of course, issued while transportation to Virginia was still going on; that would seem logical, but it isn't certain.

So far as 'When that I was Weary' is concerned, Stubbs & Richards comment: "Broadside ballad in the Douce collection. Also in Pepys, Crawford And Roxburgh". I provided a link to the Douce copy back at 15 Dec 01; I can add another to the Pepys example now that images of that collection are available at  UCSB Early Modern Center Ballad Archive:

Pepys 4.286: The Trappan'd MAIDEN.

I don't have the relevant volume of Roxburghe Ballads, but there is another copy in The Osterley Park Ballads, which I do have; it is textually the same as the other two seen (all three were issued by the same publishers) but prescribes a tune:'Virginny, or, When that I was weary, weary, O". That isn't a lot of help, though.

At his website, the late Bruce Olson commented that a later revised version, issued as 'The Betrayed Maid', formed the basis for Burns' song 'It was in Sweet Senegal'.

Thread closed temporarily because it's been a target for a heavy barrage of Spam. If you have something to add to the discussion, contact me and I'll reopen it.
-Joe Offer-


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