> The Copper Family > Songs > Wind Across the Moor

Mary of the Wild Moor / Wind Across the Moor

[ Roud 155 ; Laws P21 ; G/D 6:1175 ; Ballad Index LP21 ; Bodleian Roud 155 ; GlosTrad Roud 155 ; Wiltshire 1030 ; Just Another Tune; trad.]

Sarah Porter sang The Wind Across the Wild Moor in a recording made by Brian Matthews at The Three Cups, Punnetts Town, in 1965. It was included in 2001 on the Musical Traditions anthology Just Another Saturday Night: Sussex 1960: Songs From Country Pubs. The album’s booklet noted:

Despite there being 155 entries for this song in Roud, it appears to have been recorded from only six singers—although the Delia Murphy and Louvin Brothers’ versions are missing from the list. In Sussex, only the Copper family have been noted as knowing the song, but as Sarah had travelled “all over the country” she could have learned it almost anywhere.

From the evidence, it appears to be a 19th century English broadside hit which then travelled to America and became far more popular there than in its native land—Edden Hammons played the tune as Mary the Wild Mere in West Virginia in the ’30s, (now available on WVU Press SA-2). Besides Sarah and the Coppers, only Frank Hinchliffe (Yorkshire) and Charlie Hancey (Suffolk) are indicated in Roud as having knows it in England since 1910.

Bob and John Copper sang Wind Across the Moor in 1971 on the Copper Family’s Leader Records box set A Song for Every Season, and John Copper and Jon Dudley sang it on their 1998 CD Coppersongs 3: The Legacy Continues.

Frank Hinchliffe sang this song as Mary Across the Wild Moor on his 1977 Topic album In Sheffield Park: Traditional Songs From South Yorkshire.

Andy Turner learned The Wind Across the Wild Moor from the Copper Family’s album and sang it as the 4 February 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.


Sarah Porter sings The Wind Across the Wild Moor

“Oh why did I leave my home
To go out in this wide world to roam?
If I had have stayed at home
Sure my baby would never been born.”

Oh the old man come down in the morn,
Found poor Mary dead at his door
With the child still alive at her breast
That was clasped in his dead mother’s arms.

“Oh father come down let me in,
Come down and you open my door.
My child at my bosom will die
For the winds do blow ’cross the wild moor.”

Sure the old man with silvery hair,
Not a voice nor a sound touched his ear.
And the old clock did chime in the night
And winds do blow ’cross the wild moor.

For the old man come down in the morn,
Found poor Mary dead at his door
With the child still alive at her breast
It was clapped in his dead mother’s arms.

Bob and John Copper sing Wind Across the Moor

’Twas a cold winter’s night and the wind
Blew bitter across the wild moor.
’Twas then that poor Mary returned with her child
Wandering home to her own father’s door.

Crying, “Father, I pray, let me in!
Oh come down and open the door!
Or the child that I hold at my bosom will die
As the wind blows across the wild moor.”

“Oh why did I leave that fair spot
Where I was happy and free,
Forever to roam without friend or a home?
Pray father, take pity on me!”

Her father was deaf to the cry
When the sound reached him over the door.
And the watchdog he barked at the wind as it blew
Coldly across the wild moor.

You can’t think what a father he felt
When he came to the door in the morn.
Poor Mary his daughter lay dead with the child,
Clasped alive in the dead mother’s arms.

With vengeance he tore his grey hair,
On his Mary he gazed from the door.
’Twas on that cold night that she perished and died
As the wind blows across the wild moor.

The father in grief pined away
And the child to its mother went soon.
There’s no-one alive there to this very day
And the cottage to ruins has gone.

The villager points out the cote
Where the wild rose droops over the door.
’Twas there Mary died by the house of her bride
As the wind blows across the wild moor.


I copied the lyrics from the then Copper Family’s website; by now they seem to have been removed there.