Collected by George Butterworth from Mr & Mrs Verral , Horsham, Sussex, 1908.
The drawing is by Horace Knowles.
The tune came from Walker Searle’s children in Amberley, Sussex, May 1907, collected by George Butterworth May 1907. The words are from a broadside.
The illustration is Thomas Rowlandson’s The Sailor’s Return, or in the case of the sailor in our song, what he expected when he came home.
I used to tell a great many tales as a professional folk singer and later as a teacher. This one came from Amabel Williams-Ellis in 1960 who got it from Edwin Hartland in 1930.
I don’t remember where I found this song or who sang it but I’d made a note that it was collected by Henry Hammond (190?). The photographs here and at the top of the page were taken by Duns castle in Berwickshire.
The tune is well-known at barn dances, the words less so, but the song, which I always associate with the Borders, was printed by all the many broadsheet printers throughout the 19th century and in song books since, with scarcely any variation in the words.
The painting is The Plough Boy by Henry Herbert La Thangue 1900.
From The Oxford Song Book 1931. I’ve recorded three versions of this recruiting song of the Marlborough wars; all to the same stirring tune, which the book says should be played ‘gaily and persuasively’. I wonder that anyone could be taken in by the assertion that every volunteer will become a captain!
Watercolour by Richard Simkin, 1900.
David Cody writes: Also known as the War of the Spanish Succession, Marlborough’s Wars (1702-13), fought in Europe and on the Mediterranean, were the last and the bloodiest of the Wars between England and France under Louis XIV, and the first in which Britain played a major military role in European military affairs.