Mary Spence of Patterdale had this song from her great-aunt, Sarah Foster, who came from Sedbergh in Cumbria. Mary wrote: “My great-aunt learned it from a travelling tailor who came to mend her father’s clothes, probably between 1804 and 1807. The story she told my father (her nephew) was that she listened outside the window of the room where the tailor worked, ran away to practice what she heard, and then returned for more. I learned the song by hearing my father and eldest sister sing it, who both had it from the fountain-head, so to speak. I am sure they both copied the great-aunt faithfully as it was performed with rather a nasal twang and several little kinks and turns, especially before the last note; also a cousin who had it from his mother makes no variation in his rendering. Some years ago I wrote it down for the interest of it.” From The Folk Song Journal 1930.
14 June 2020