The Week Before Easter, with its enigmatic riddle in the final verse, was a very popular song in the 60s and 70s folk clubs. This version, from my 1972 Diary, has words of which come from north of the border, if I remember rightly.
Searching For Lambs, the epitome of English traditional song from the southern counties, was sung by Mrs Sweet to Cecil Sharp at Somerton, Somerset, on the 16th August 1907.
Outward & Homeward Bound was collected by Cecil Sharp and published in English Folk-Songs for Schools 1906, including the lines about the sailor giving his “old girl a hearty smack” and she replying “You are saucy…!”. The drawing is of the West India Docks, London 1888 as I couldn’t find a suitable one of the Katherine Docks mentioned in the song.
On the 6th January 1909 Harry Richards sang this beautiful song to Cecil Sharp at Curry Rivel, a village in Somerset. If ever there was a song ‘saved’ from obscurity it is this one, for it was never collected from anyone else nor appeared in print until 1922 when it was included in Novello’s School Songs (the ‘official’ publication of songs favoured by the Board of Education) minus the last verse.
Cecil Sharp rode his bicycle around the West Country collecting songs and I ride around on mine singing them.
My well-used copy of Sea Sequel To The Week-End Book, published in 1934, was designed to supply all the information a leisure sailor might require on a cruise ship. Along with the important and useful bits are such entertainments as true stories and songs of the sea. The Smuggler is one.
I haven’t yet discovered the artist of the painting. Slapton on the Devon coast is important for ecological reasons nowadays.
Following on from our previous song The Highwayman Outwitted, Sovay is a similarly resourceful lady who checks up, in an unusually assertive manner, on her true love’s worth.
Henry Hammond collected the song from Mrs Young, Long Barton, Dorset, in July 1906. Two verses – the garden scene and the reason for the robbery – came from Mrs Crawford, West Milton, Dorset, in May 1906. Broadside printers give the heroine’s name as Sylvie or Sophie, which don’t rhyme nearly so well.
The arresting illustration, which certainly gained my attention, is by Anthony Summey.
English folksong is rich in resourceful women and the young girl in our song comes off better than most. The Highwayman Outwitted tune came from the ostler at the Ring o’ Bells, Norton Fitzwarren, Somerset, May 1905. It was collected by George Hammond. The text was from Daniel Newman, Axford, Hampshire, September 1907, and others.
I have so far been unable to trace the artist of the first excellent picture. The highwayman has the appearance of someone who might well bungle a robbery, as did the subject of our song. The second illustration is of Kathleen Ferrers, the ‘Wicked Lady’, who led a famous double life which has nothing directly to do with the song, but is a good read: John Barber, Author tells her story.