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The Hexhamshire Lass

[ Roud 3182 ; Ballad Index StoR064 ; DT HEXHMLAS , HEXHMLS2 ; Mudcat 19405 ; trad.

J. Collingwood Bruce, John Stokoe: Northumbrian Minstrelsy John Stokoe: Songs and Ballads of Northern England.

Bob Davenport and the Rakes sang The Hexhamshire Lass in 1965 on their eponymous Columbia album Bob Davenport and the Rakes.

Tom Gilfellon sang The Hexhamshire Lass on The High Level Ranters’ 1968 Topic album, Northumberland For Ever. They noted:

A song we took to immediately when we heard Bob Davenport sing it. This is nearer the printed source in the Northumbrian Minstrelsy than Bob’s fine version but we think none the less attractive for it! It’s a typical North-eastern tune with its downward jumps of octave and diminished sixth, sweet and gritty.

Fairport Convention learned The Hexhamshire Lass from the singing of Bob Davenport. They recorded it in 1973 for their their Island album Nine, with Jerry Donahue, Trevor Lucas, Dave Mattacks, Dave Pegg and Dave Swarbrick singing. This track was also included in 1999 on their double CD compilation Meet On The Ledge: The Classic Years 1967-1975.

There are lots of live Fairport recordings:

  1. A live performance recorded on 26 January 1974 at the Sydney Opera House was available on the first “official bootleg cassette” The Airing Cupboard Tapes in 1981 and reissued on CD in 2002.
  2. A live recording of May 1974 at Ebbets Field, Denver, Colorado was released in 2002 on the bonus CD of Before The Moon.
  3. One more, with Dave Swarbrick at Amazing Grace, Chicago, in 1975 was included in the Dave Swarbrick anthology Swarb! in 2003.
  4. A live recording probably from 31 October 1975 at Brunel University, Uxbridge is on the CD Who Knows? The Woodworm Archives Vol. 1.
  5. A 1976 Capitol Radio performance with the short-lived Bradfy / Burridge / Ar Bras line-up can be found on the Fairport unConventioNal 4 CD set.
  6. One more live recording from Cropredy 1982 was released on the double cassette A.T. 2 in 1983 and reissued in 2000 on the 4 CD set A.T. 2 / The Boot.

Dave Webber and Anni Fentiman sang Hexhamshire Lass in 1998 on their album Constant Lovers. They noted:

One of the Tyneside songs Anni learned at school. Quite a few of the words are common to a couple of Scots songs, including one by Burns.

Carolyn Robson sang Hexhamshire Lass on her 1999 album All the Fine Young Men. She noted:

From Hexhamshire, like me, this song has evolved over the many years that I have been singing it. It is sometimes played as a dance tune.

Bill Jones sang The Hexham Lass on her 2001 album Panchpuran.

Whapweasel sang The Hexhamshire Lass on their 2012 album Festivalis. They noted:

A song very local to Whapweasel. There are many versions, the earliest we found published in the Northumbrian Minstrelsy in 1882. Suggested by Brian [Bell] and lyrics from Mike [Coleman], it’s a song we just had to do.


Fairport Convention sing The Hexhamshire Lass

Away with the buff and the blue, and away with the cap and feather;
I want to see my lass who lives in Hexhamshire.

Chorus (after each verse):
Off to the Saiby Syke and over the moss and the mire
I want to see my lass who lives in Hexhamshire

Her father loves her well, her mother loves her dearer;
I love her better than the both but man, I can’t get near her.

If only I could be lying there aside her
While I watched my dear my arms would be denied her.

Her skin is like the silk and her hair is like the silver
Her breast are deep but full, they’ll fall when I get near her

Of this love of mine, of this love I am weary;
Sleep I can’t get none for thinking of my dearie

Away with the parson’s shilling and away with the cap and feather
I want to see my lass who lives in Hexhamshire

(4 instrumental verses)

(Repeat first verse.)