Willie o’ Winsbury / Tom the Barber (2024)

>Anne Briggs >Songs >Willie o’ Winsbury
>Tony Rose >Songs >Tom the Barber
>Frankie Armstrong >Songs >Thomas of Welshbury
>Nic Jones >Songs >William of Winesbury

[ Roud 64 ; Master title: Willie o’ Winsbury ; Child 100 ; G/D 5:999; Henry H221 ; Ballad Index C100 ; Willie o’ Winsbury at Fire Draw Near ; VWML CJS2/9/811 ; DT WILLIWIN ; Mudcat 45832 , 68135 ; trad.]

Nick Dow:Southern SongsterGale Huntington:Sam Henry’s Songs of the People,Alexander Keith:Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad AirsFrank Purslow:The Wanton SeedJames Reeves:The Everlasting CircleCecil J. Sharp:One Hundred English FolksongsStephen Sedley:The Seeds of Love

Robert Cinnamond sang this ballad in a recording made by Diane Hamilton,probably in County Antrim and probably in 1961. It was included in 1975with the title The Rich Shipowner’s Daughteron his Topic LPYou Rambling Boys of Pleasureand in 1998 asThere Was a Lady Lived in the Weston the Topic anthologyIt Fell on a Day, a Bonny Summer Day(The Voice of the People Series, Volume 17).Proinsias Ó Conluain noted:

“There was a lady lived in the west”, the first line of thissong, introduces quite a number of different ballads. This one, in fact, is aversion of Child 100; Willie O Winsbury. In some versions the younglady’s lover is named Willie Winchberrie, in others, Johnny Barbary.

It’s of interest that a Donegal version of the song, recorded byDr.Hugh Shields(Folk Ballads From Donegal and Derry[see below])has the title John Barbour—the surname very similar to the oneused by Robert Cinnamond. In England, through mishearing, the lover isTom the Barber.

Sweeney’s Men—Andy Irvine, Johnny Moynihan and Terry Woods—recordedWillie o’ Winsbury in 1968 for their first LP,Sweeney’s Men.And Andy Irvine sang Willy of Winsburyon his 2010 albumAbocurragh.He noted:

Learned back in the sixties from Professor Child’s collection of traditionalballads which was like the bible at the time. This is Child 100. I collatedwords from different versions and as the story goes, on looking up the tune,I lighted on the tune to number 101[Willie o Douglas Dale].I’m not sure if this is true but it’s a good story.I recorded it solo on Sweeney’s Men’s eponymous first album in 1968accompanying myself on guitar.

Johnny Moynihan’s then girlfriend Anne Briggs recordedWillie o’ Winsburyin 1971 for her first solo album,Anne Briggs.A.L.Lloyd noted on her album:

English singers have called thisJohnny BarbaryorTom the Barber,but from Somerset to Aberdeen its distinguishing feature is that the seducedgirl’s father—often, as here, the king—is so taken by the youngman’s looks that he forgives all.Cecil Sharp, publishing a West country version,suppresses this amiable but equivocal motif. Ah well. For those who care,this ballad is listed as Child 100. Johnny Moynihan adds his bouzouki toAnne’s in the accompaniment.

As all recordings of Anne Briggs’ album, this trackwas reissued on her Fellside and Topic compilation CDs,Classic Anne BriggsandA Collection.It was also included in the Topic compilation English and Scottish Folk Balladsand on the 2CD anthologyThe Legend of Sweeney’s Men.

Joe McCafferty of Co. Donegal sangJohn Barbourto Hugh Shields on 24 August 1969.This recording was included in 1975 on the Leader albumFolk Ballads From Donegal and Derry.Shields noted:

Hugh Shields: I was just asking you to tell me something about thatsong: you said it was one of your father’s, didn’t you?

Joe McCafferty It is, one of my father’s. And my father, do you see,belongs to a place called Knockfola. And he learnt me that song. When we usedto sit at the fire, he used to sing a verse of that, maybe the-night, or acouple of verses; and maybe the-morrow night, when I would—whenever Iwould write it down, you see, I would ask him for the next couple of versesthe next night, you see. And he used to let me know until I got it all wrotedown, and that’s the way that I learnt it.

H. S. Yes. And how long ago was that?

J. McC. It’s about—I would say now about forty years agoanyway. I would be only about twenty-five or—twenty-three anyway:twenty-three, or twenty-four, or twenty-five, some of the two. That’s aboutforty-five years ago anyway. You have that taped and all, have you?

H. S. I have indeed.

Willie of Winsbury (Child no. 100). Sung by Joe McCafferty,Derryconor, on a rainy Sunday, 24 August 1969, in my car near his house.

The story is commonplace: a rich suitor serves his sweetheart’s father inhumble disguise; apprehended, he reveals himself. Older versions of this balladcontain one narrative element—the girl’s pregnancy—which is hereobscured, though hinted at in verses 2-3. The language is admirably purposeful.Two consecutive scenes, almost wholly in dialogue, are linked by the entry ofthe hero, whose dazzling appearance confounds all criticism.

The melody (Mixolydian-Ionian) is related to a number of those in Bronson(esp. no.9). At least two other Irish versions (not in Bronson) exist:The Rich Shipowner’s Daughter inSam Henry’s Songs of the People,and sung by Robert Cinnamond on the BBC archive record mentioned below.See also [Frank Purslow:The Wanton Seed]and [James Reeves:The Everlasting Circle].Sound recording on BBC LP24840.

Tony Capstick sang Sir Thomas of Winesberryin 1971 on his Rubber album with Hedgehog Pie,His Round.He noted:

Sir Thomas of Winesberry I stole from Peter Wood.

Barbara Dickson sangLord Thomas of Winesberry and the King’s Daughterin 1971 on her albumFrom the Beggar’s Mantle… Fringed With Gold.

Horden Raikes sang Thomas of Winesburyin 1972 on their Folk Heritage albumHorden Raikes.This track was also included in 1974 on Brian Dewhurst’s Folk HeritageanthologyBits and Pieces of Brian Dewhurst.

Pentangle sang Willie o’ Winsburyin 1972 on their albumSolomon’s Seal.

John Goodluck sang Willie o’ Winsbury in 1974 on his albumThe Suffolk Miracle.Producer Brian Horsfall noted:

When the word got around that John was about to make his recording debut,the universal question was, “You’ll be doing Willie,won’t you?” Apart from being one of the best-loved in his repertoire,the song is worthy of note; if only because the hero, faced with a choicebetween a shotgun wedding and the hangman’s rope, has the good sense to knowwhen he’s well off—unlike many another in folk song!

Staverton Bridge sang Tom Barbary in 1975 on their eponymousSaydisc albumStaverton Bridge.This recording was included on 2001 on the Fellsideanthology of English traditional songs,Voices in Harmony.Paul Adams noted:

The idea of a courtship being conducted in disguise by a prince or a richman’s son is the common stuff of oral tales the world over. InTom Barbary it makes for a remarkably amiable ballad with smiles,forgiveness and fortunes all round at the end of the story. It is a version ofWillie o’ Winesbury (Child100). Prof.Child’s Scottishversions all have him as Willie or Thomas of Winsbury (or Winesberry),Tom (or John) Barbary (or Barber) seems to emanate from the West Country.

John Leonard and John Squire sang Willie o’ Winsburyin 1976 on their Rubber albumBroken-Down Gentlemen.They noted:

This is more or less as we first heard it from Andy Irvine and still remainsone of our favourite songs.

Dick Gaughan sang Willie o’ Winsburyin 1978 on his eponymous Topic albumGaughan.He noted:

I couldn’t have imagined myself singing this a few years back, but I found acouple of verses for the middle which change the whole emphasis of the song.I first heard it sung by Anne Briggs to a different tune, but don’t rememberwhere I got this tune. The guitar is tuned DADGAD and the accompaniment isfrom an idea my wife Dorris gave me.

Hazel King sang Willie o’ Winsburyin 1978 on her and Derek Sarjeant’s album.

Dave Burland sang Willie o’ Winsbury in 1979 on his albumYou Can’t Fool the Fat Man.His version is from Maud Karpeles’ bookFolk Songs of Newfoundland.

Tony Rose recorded Tom the Barberin 1982 for his fourth album,Poor Fellows.As his albums weren’t available any more, he re-recorded it in 1999 for his CDBare Bones.He noted on the original album:

For some 200 years, dating from the mid-17th century, the Barbary coast ofNorth Africa—present day Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria—was notoriouspirate territory. ‘Barber’ seems to derive from‘berber’, but whether this is the hero’s nickname, disguise orgenuine identity is uncertain. Other versions ofWillie o’ Winsburyhave him “lately come from Spain.” In either case it must haveseemed fairly exotic to MrGordge of Bridgwater from whom Cecil Sharpcollected this fine tune. [VWML CJS2/9/811]

Steve Turner sang Lord Thomas of Winesburyin 1984 on his Fellside albumEclogue.

Nick Dow sang The Rich Shipowner’s Daughteron his 1986 albumA Mark Upon the Earth.He noted:

Another Child Ballad (No. 100). This song is better known asLord Thomas of Winesberry. This version is strikingly different witha tune that develops with each verse. It comes from the singing ofRobert Cinnamond of Belfast, who had an amazing singing style, that may betraced back as far as the fourteenth century. The only other singer to voice asimilar style was recorded on wax cylinder in Lincolnshire by Percy Grainger in1908 (Mr.George Wray). The style is often called‘Terraced singing’.

To my shame, I have not attempted to re-create the style of the original,but have concentrated on the narrative and ironed out the rhythm to a regular4/4 allowing the tune to adopt a different set of characteristics, thus(Ihope) extending the discipline of the tradition, without indulging inthe indignity of its transformation (an occurrence all too often witnessed inFolk Clubs, by singers who have more interest in themselves than the song).

Ed Miller sang Thomas of Winesburyin 1989 on his Folk-Legacy albumBorder Background.He noted:

Number 100 in the Child collection, this ballad is more commonly known asWillie o’ Winsbury. I first heard this variant from Barbara Dicksonaround 1970, and it appears to be a shortened version ofLord Thomas of Winesberrie, which appeared in Kinloch’sAncient Scottish Ballads.Like most of my repertoire, it has experienced changes over the years sinceI first learned it.

The song is of 16th century origins, from the pre-reformationperiod when the sons of the Scots nobility were often sent to France for theireducation—Thomas, apparently, was a quick learner! Some ballad scholarsbelieve the hero to be the future King JamesV of Scotland, who did,indeed, marry a daughter of FrancisI of France.

Brian Peters sang John Barbour in 1989 on his Harbourtown albumFools of Fortune.He noted:

Fortune favoured John Barbour, whose physical attractiveness landedhim on the gallows but then reprieved him. This version ofWillie o’ Winsbury appears in Peaco*ck’sSongs of the Newfoundland Outports,and was collected from a Mrs. Charlotte Decker.

Richard Thompson sang Willie o’ Winsburyin a 18 June 1993 live recording from Iron Horse, Northampton, Massachusetts,that was included in 2006 on his Free Reed anthologyRT: The Life and Music of Richard Thompson.

Sara Grey sang Johnny Barden in 1994 on hereponymous Harbourtown albumSara.She noted:

Song by Mrs Mary McCrath of Bridgetown, Co. Wexford in 1974. The recordingis in the archive of the Department of Irish Folklore, University CollegeDublin Learnt when Mary was “about five from an oul travlin’ man ofWexford he’s dead years.” This appears to be the only version ofWillie of Winsbury (Child no. 108) orThe Laird o’ the Windy Warecorded in the Southern Irish tradition. I got it from a tape calledSongs of the Irish Travellers.A version is inSongs of the People,John Milden’s selection from the Sam Henry collection where it is calledThe Rich Ship Owner’s Daughter. It is also known asJohn Barbour, Tom the Barber or Tom Barbary.It is a song about a pregnant girl although this version only hints at this inthe second and third verses. Other versions finish the second verse “orhas lain with some young man”. Another often found feature in these songsis the pour suitor who turns out to be rich, here he is again.

Frankie Armstrong sang Thomas of Welshburyin 2000 on her Fellside CDThe Garden of Love.Brian Pearson noted:

Frankie lives in Wales and was initially attracted by the title of thisversion of Willie of Winsbury. She likes the way that disaster isaverted by the king’s unexpectedly broad-minded appreciation of a pretty youngman. The idea that the folk tradition is ferociously heterosexual doesn’thold up—think of all those songs about cross-dressing or of phrases like“girls, if you must love, love another”.

Mary Humphreys and Anahata sang Willie of Winsburyon their 2001 albumThrough the Groves.

Nic Jones sang William of Winesburyon his 2001 album of previously unreleased material,Unearthed.He noted:

My approach to learning songs was quite undisciplined and somewhat lazy.I used to trawl through a variety of books such as theChild Ballads,Christie’sTraditional Ballad Airs,Bronson, and theEFDSS Folk Song Journals,and listen to old recordings of traditional singers. Rather thanconscientiously learn the songs by writing them down and working out thearrangement, I tended to absorb them over a period of time. Add the facts thatI couldn’t read music very well and had a terrible memory even then, the endresult was words and tunes were not always remembered correctly nor, in somecases, were the sources. […]William of Winesbury [is] such [a] song.>

Jim Eldon sang High Castle Wall in 2004 on his albumHome from Sea.

Laurel Swift and Lauren McCormick sang Willie of Winsburyin 2005 on the Laurel Swift and Friends albumBeam.Laurel noted:

Willie of Winsbury is a rare (no-one dies) and very human balladI learnt from the immense singing of Anne Briggs. Dick Gaughan also used tosing it—see his [unfortunately now defunct] websitefor a perfect expression of the story’s sentiment.

Kate Rusby sang John Barburyin 2007 on her CDAwkward Annie.

Stanley Robertson sang Willie o Winsburyon his 2009 posthumous album of “family gems and jewels from theTraveller tradition”,The College Boy.

The Owl Service sang Willie o’ Winsburyon their 2011 albumThe Pattern Beneath the Plough.

Hannah James sangThere Was a Lady Lived in the Westin 2012 on her and Sam Sweeney’s second duo album,State and Ancientry.They noted:

Hannah learnt this song from a spectacular recording of Robert Cinnamond[see above] and only hopes that her delivery is half as enthralling as his.It’s a tale of a princess who falls for John Barlow, an “unsuitable”sailor, but when the King meets him he decides he’s a fine looking young manand lets them marry anyway.

Martha Tilston sang Willie o’ Winsburylive at Bush Hall in London on 8 November 2012:

Rosaleen Gregory sang Willie o’ Winsburyin 2013 on her second album of Child ballads,Serpent’s Knee.She noted:

One of my favourites—and it even has a happy ending.

Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer sang Willie o’ Winsburyin 2013 on their CDChild Ballads.They also sang it live at the BBC Radio2 Folk Awards 2014:

Robert Lawrence and Jill Green sang Willie of Winsburyon their 2015 CDLegends and Laments.They noted:

After a long imprisonment in Spain, the King returns to England to find thathis daughter Jane has fallen in love with his servant Willie of Winsbury, andis now with child. In his anger, he vows to hang Willie. But when Willie isbrought to the court, the King realises that he is a good and honourable manand offers him wealth and land if he marries Jane.

Robyn Stapleton sang Willie o’ Winsburyin 2015 on her album of songs of the Scottish and Irish folk traditions,Fickle Fortune.She noted:

I’ve always loved the story of this traditional ballad—so manyunexpected twists and turns, and a wonderful tune. Thanks to Paddy Cumminsfor introducing me to this song during my stay in Ireland.

Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith sang Willy o’ the Winsburyin 2016 on their Fellside albumNight Hours.He noted:

As a Child ballad it is also known as Tom the Barber,John Barbour, etc.

This beautiful Scottish ballad exists in many variants. In this version,a king who has been away in Spain returns to find his daughter pregnant byWillie o’ the Winsbury. He summons him to be hanged but upon meeting him isso struck by his beauty that he offers both land and his daughter’s hand.In our interpretation Willie accepts the daughter’s hand but refuses the offerof land and title because their love is enough.

Jim Moray sang William of Barbaryin 2016 on his CDUpcetera.He noted:

As sung to Cecil Sharp on 2 January 1906 by Mr Gordge of Somerset, whoconfusingly called it Tom the Barber, despite the name Tom notfeaturing anywhere in the song. I learned this from Steve Turner’s recordingon his albumEclogue,where he called it Lord Thomas of Winesbury.

Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne sang Tom the Barberin 2017 on his WildGoose CDOutway Songster.He noted:

A variant of Child ballad 100, commonly known asWillie o’ Winesbury.I first heard this sung by Tony Rose on his 1982 LPPoor Fellows.[Its] sleeve notes comment that this song was collected by Cecil Sharpfrom Mr Gordge of Bridgwater (collected 2 January 1906) [VWML CJS2/9/811].This variant was published in Volume I of Sharp’sEnglish Folk Songspresented there under the titleLord Thomas of Winesberry.The only variant I’ve found with the titleTom the Barberis that collected by Hammond from W.Bartlett of Wimborne, Dorset inSeptember 1906, and it appears that Tony Rose’s text draws on this variant.The most convincing explanation of the term ‘barber’ is that it isa corruption of ‘Berber’ referring to the people of North Africa.

Offa Rex sang Willie o’ Winsburyin 2017 on their Nonesuch albumThe Queen of Hearts.This track was also included in 2021 on the anthology of the story ofFolk into Rock and beyond,The Electric Muse Revisited.Olivia Chaney noted on their album:

I grew up with the music of Anne Briggs, and her rendition of this song hasgone down, along with Andy Irvine’s, as not only one of the great recordings,but also one of my favourite recordings of anything. This song was the seed ofthe project: Colin [Meloy] announced via Twitter that he wanted to hear me singit, having listened to my album. That led to me supporting them on tour, andnot long after Colin invited me to make a record with the band. But the songstill seemed untouchable to me.

I was working on ideas at the piano, but they didn’t feel right. So,mid-recording process, now in Portland. Tucker [Martine] lent me his father’sold Martin guitar from his studio. Flora Recording & Playback, to continueworking on. Late one night, jet-lagged in my Airbnb, I gradually found a tuningand polyrhythmic part that the song could float over, un-impinged.I recorded a demo on my phone and sent it to the band. That led to us decidingto keep it intimate and pared down; just me, guitar and voice, Colin onnylon-string, and Nate [Query] on upright. Tucker captured the whole live takewith us standing around one beautiful 1930s RCA ribbon mic. We just listened toeach other in the room, no headphones, and played our way through the story ofthis poetic Child ballad. The only thing we added afterwards was mydouble-tracked guitar to bring more depth to the sound.

Martin Simpson sang Willie o’ Winsburyon the second CD of the deluxe issue of his 2017 Topic album.He noted:

During the recording of ideas for this collection of songs, I experimentedwith an arrangement of the ballad, Willie o’ Winsbury. I played thesketch on my Fylde resonator guitar through my Magnatone amp and subsequentlydecided not to record the song, so I have included the work in progress.

Ken Wilson and Jim MacFarland sang Tom the Barberin 2017 on their CDHere’s a Health to the Company!.They noted:

A version of the Scottish balladWilly o’ Winsbury / Tom (or John) Barbary (or Barber).This version seems to emanate from the English West Country and was collectedby Cecil Sharp from Mr Gordge of Bridgwater [VWML CJS2/9/811].

Joshua Burnell sang Willie o’ Winsburyon the bonus CD of his 2019 albumThe Road to Horn Fair.

Dougie Mackenzie sang Willie o’ Winsburyon his 2019 Greentrax albumAlong the Way.He noted:

First heard on an early John Renbourn album. The King returns fromfighting in Spain and finds his daughter with child.

Roisín White sang The Rich Shipowner’s Daughteron the Belfast Traditional Music and Dance Society’s2019 Robert Cinnamond tribute album’Tis Pretty to Be in Ballinderry.

Ye Vagabonds sang Willie o Winsburyin 2019 on their River Lea albumThe Hare’s Lament.They noted:

As has unfortunately been the case with folk music since recording began,often credit is not given to people where it is due for their arrangements andwork on songs. No one fixed version of any folk song exists until recordingsare made. As far as we’re concerned, this is Andy Irvine’s arrangement of thissong, since he was the first we know of to have sung it with this melody.We learned this song first from Andy and Anne Briggs’ recordings, and from ouruncle Dominic who always sings it at family gatherings. We’ve been singing itsince we were teenagers, at first imitating Andy—as we were whenMyles O’Reilly first filmed us a few years ago, and the song has developed forus a fair bit since. We’ve heard and read a lot of versions of it underdifferent names—sometimes also as Johnny Barton,John Barlow or John Barbour.In the great 1868 bookThe Legendary Ballads of England and Scotlanda version of the song Lord Thomas of Winesberrie is thought to relateto events from 1536 when JamesV of Scotland married Magdalene de Valois,daughter of the king of France (who then died shortly after theirreturn to Scotland just a month before her 17th birthday).Another theory is that Thomas of Winesberry was the name of the Chamberlain tothe king of France who wooed the princess. In any case, most of these versionstells a less romantic, more materialistic version of the story. There is somequestionable fatherly behaviour in this song, but the most remarkable part ofthe story for us is that the king himself seems to fancy Willie o Winsbury,so offers him his daughter in marriage rather than sending him to the gallows.

Devin Hoff sang Willie o’ Winsburyin 2021 on his album of songs of Anne Briggs,Voices From the Empty Moor.

Holly & the Reivers sang Willie o’ Winsburyon their 2023 albumThree Galleys.They noted:

One of the great Child Ballads, this song has been sung by many peopleand we continue that tradition. We believe it is one of the great stories inour tradition of Ballad singing. A wonderful triumph of love.


Robert Cinnamond sings There Was a Lady Lived in the West

There was a lady lived in the west,
And she was dressed in green,
And as she leaned over her father’s castle wall
For to see the ships sail in.

“What is wrong with you?” her father did say.
“You look so pale and wan.
For you must have some sore sickness
Or have lain with some young man.”

“Oh, I have had no sore sickness,
But I’m in love with a young man,
And the only thing that breaks my heart
Is what keeps my darling so long.”

“Is he is a lord, a squire or a duke,
Or a man of noted fame,
Or is he young John from the Isle of Man
That ploughs the raging main?”

“He is neither a lord, a squire or a duke,
Or a man of noted fame,
But he is young John from the Isle of Man
That ploughs the raging main.”

“Then call him go down the salt sea strand
And bring him here to me.
If he’s seeking to gain my daughter’s hand,
He must leave this country.”

“Oh, Father dear, don’t be severe,
Or be cruel unto me.
Oh, if you send away my John Barlow
You will get no good of me.”

Then the king he called in his merry, merry men,
And he called them by one, two and three,
And instead of young John being the very first man,
The very last one came he.

He entered the room young John Barlow,
And the clothing he wore was silk,
And his two blue eyes like the morning stars,
And his skin as white as milk.

“Aye, I think it no wonder,“ the king gey did say
“My daughter’s in love with thee.
If I was a woman as I am a man,
My bed-mate you would be.

“Will you wed my daughter?“ he said.
“Will you take her by the hand?
And you shall dine at my table,
And be master over all my land.”

“I will wed your daughter,“ he said,
“But she’s no match for me,
For every pound that she counts down,
I can count thirty-three.”

Now, fill your glasses to the brim;
Drink a health to your country.
Drink a health to young John from the Isle of Man
And to Lady Winsbally.

Joe McCafferty sings John Barbour

There was a lord lived in this town,
He had only one loved daughter Jane.
And as she stood in her father’s castle walls
She was watching the ship sails on, on,
She was watching the ship sails on.

“What ails you, what ails you,” her father did say,
“You look so pale and wan.
Nor have you got some sore sickness,” he says,
“Nor deceived by some young man, man,
Nor deceived by some young man?”

“I have not got sore nor sickness,” she says,
“Nor deceived by no young man.
But the truth unto you, my father, I will tell:
My true love stops too long.”

“Is your true love a knight nor a lord?” he says,
“Nor is he a man of fame?
Nor is he one of our seamen bold
That ploughs the raging main?”

“He is not a knight nor a lord,“ she says,
Nor he is not a man of fame.
But he is one of our seamen bold:
John Barbour is his name.”

“If that is so, dear daughter,“ he says,
“That you fell in love with he.
But before eight o’clock on tomorrow morning
I will hang him to a tree.”

“If you’ll hang John Barbour, dear father,” she says,
“And hang him to a tree,
But before eight o’clock on tomorrow morning
I will die as well as he.”

Then he called all his merry men in
By one, by two and by three.
And the very man that always used to come first
Was the very last man came he.

His stockings they were of the grass-green silk
And his coat of the navy blue,
And his skin was as white as any milk
That ever your eyes had seen.

“It’s no wonder now, dear daughter,” he says,
“That you fell in love with him.
Nor if I was a woman although I am a man
My bedfellow he would be.

“Will you marry my daughter now,” he said,
“With the faith of my own right hand?
She can eat and drink at my own table
And be heir of all my land.”

“I will marry your daughter now,” he said,
“With the faith of my own right hand.
She can eat and drink at my own table
And a fig for all your land!

“For now John Barbour it is my name
And a seaman to you I only stand.
For I’ve just got as good a living as you:
I am the mayor of all Creeveland.”

He mounted his love on a milk-white steed
And they rode unto a bay.
And they have as much land as you could walk round
For the length of (spoken) a long summer’s day.

Anne Briggs sings Willie o’ Winsbury

The king has been a prisoner
And a prisoner long in Spain,
And Willie of the Winsbury
Has lain long with his daughter at hame.

“What ails ye? what ails ye, my daughter Janet?
Why you look so pale and wan?
Oh, have you had any sore sickness
Or yet been sleepin’ with a man?”

“I have not had any sore sickness
Nor yet been sleepin’ wi’ a man.
It is for you, my father dear,
For biding so long in Spain.”

“Cast off, cast off your berry-brown gown,
You stand naked upon the stane,
That I may ken ye by your shape
Whether you be a maiden or none.”

And she’s cast off her berry-brown gown,
She stood naked upon the stone.
Her apron was low and her haunches were round,
Her face was pale and wan.

“Oh, was it with a lord or a duke or a knight,
Or a man of birth and fame?
Or was it with one of me serving men
That’s lately come out of Spain?”

“No, it wasn’t with a lord, nor a duke, nor a knight,
Or a man of birth and fame.
But it was with Willie of Winsbury,
I could bide no longer alone.”

And the king he has called on his merry men all,
By thirty and by three,
Says, “Fetch me this Willie of Winsbury,
For hanged he shall be!”

But when he came the king before,
He was clad all in the red silk.
His hair was like the strands of gold,
His skin was as white as milk.

“And it is no wonder,” said the king,
“That my daughter’s love you did win.
If I was a woman, as I am a man,
My bedfellow you would have been.”

“And will you marry my daughter Janet,
By the truth of your right hand?
Oh, will you marry my daughter Janet?
I’ll make you the lord of my land.”

“Yes, I will marry your daughter Janet
By the truth of my right hand.
Yes I will marry your daughter Janet,
But I’ll not be the lord of your land.”

And he’s mounted her on a milk-white steed
And himself on a dapple grey.
He has made her the lady of as much land
As she’ll ride in a long summer’s day.

Tony Rose sings Tom the Barber

As I looked over the castle wall
To see what I could see,
There I saw my father’s ship
𝄆 Come a-sailing home to me. 𝄇

“What’s the matter, my daughter Jane,
That you look so pale and wan,
Have you had some sore sickness
In 𝄆 lying with some young man?” 𝄇

“Oh, I’ve had no sore sickness
In lying with no young man,
But I have a grieve to my very, very heart
𝄆 That you’ve been so long at sea.” 𝄇

Then she’s took off her gown of green,
She’s hanged it against the wall.
Her apron strings they would not untie
𝄆 She was three quarters gone. 𝄇

“It is to a noble gentleman
Or to one of low degree?
Or is it to some jolly, jolly tar
𝄆 That sails in along of me?” 𝄇

“ ’t is to no noble gentleman
Nor to one of low degree;
But it is to that jolly, jolly tar
That sails in along of thee,
Aye, he sails along of thee.”

So he’s called up his merry, merry men,
By one, by two, by three,
And Tom the Barber that used to come first,
𝄆 The last come in was he. 𝄇

In came Tom the Barber bold,
He was dressed all in silk.
His eyes did shine like morning sun,
His skin it was like the milk,
Oh, his skin was like the milk.

“Will you marry my daughter Jane?
Will you take her by the hand?
Will you prove a father unto that child,
The 𝄆 heir to all my land?” 𝄇

“Yes, I’ll marry your daughter Jane,
I’ll take her by the hand.
I’ll prove a father unto that child,
But I value not your land,
No, I value not your land.

For I have gold and silver store,
I’ve houses and I’ve land.
If it were not for your daughter Jane,
I’d never been your man,
No, I’d ne’er been your man.”

Hannah James sings There Was a Lady Lived in the West

There was a lady lived in the west.
And she was dressed in green.
And she leaned over her father’s castle wall
For to see the ships sail in.

“What is wrong with you?” her father did say,
“You look so pale and wan.
For you must have some sore sickness
Or have lain with some young man.”

“Oh, I have had no sore sickness
But I’m in love with a young man.
And the only thing that breaks my heart
Is what keeps my darling so long.”

“Is he a lord, a squire or a duke
Or a man of noted fame?
Or is he young John from the Isle of Man
That ploughs the raging main?”

“He is neither a lord, a squire or a duke,
Or a man of noted fame,
But he is young John from the Isle of Man
That ploughs the raging main.”

“Then call him down the salt sea strand
And bring him unto me.
If he’s thinking to gain my daughter’s hand
He must leave this fair country.”

“Oh, Father dear, don’t be severe
Or be cruel unto me!
If you send away my John Barlow
You will get no good of me.”

So the king has called his merry, merry men,
And he called them by one two, three.
And instead of young John being the very first man,
The very last one came he.

He entered the room, young John Barlow,
And the clothing he wore was silk.
And his two blue eyes like the morning stars
And his skin was as white as milk.

“I think it no wonder,” the king he did say,
“My daughter’s in love with thee.
For if I was a woman as I am a man,
My bed-mate you would be.”

“Will you wed my daughter?” the king did say,
“Will you take her by the hand?
And you will dine at my table
And be master over all my land.”

“Oh, I will wed your daughter,” he said,
“But she’s no match for me.
For every pound that she counts down,
I will count down thirty-three.”

Now, fill your glasses to the brim,
Drink a health to your country!
Drink a health to young John from the Isle of Man
And his Lady Winsbally.


Thanks to David Summers for lyric corrections.

Willie o’ Winsbury / Tom the Barber (2024)
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