> Folk Music > Songs > The Bone Lace Weaver

The Bone Lace Weaver

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 28543 ; words Leonard Wheatcroft, music Roy Harris]

Leonard Wheatcroft of Ashover, Derbyshire was a diarist and a minor 17th-century poet who wrote The Bone Lace Weaver. Roy Palmer wrote a tune for it and published it in his book A Ballad History of England.

Muckram Wakes sang The Bone Lace Weaver in 1973 on their Trailer LP A Map of Derbyshire. Helen Hockenhull returned to this song with Grace Notes in 2001 when they sang it together with Stockinger on their Fellside CD Anchored to the Time. She commented in their liner notes:

Before the Industrial Revolution lace workers worked in cottages or small barns and they enjoyed a relatively prosperous life. They were cheerful and independent and it shows in the words of Bone Lace Weaver. Leonard Wheatcroft wrote the lyrics in 1650 and Roy Harris wrote the tune of this version much later. Stockinger is a much angrier song and tells of the hardships experienced by women workers during the Industrial Revolution.

Cupola:Ward sang The Bone Lace Weaver in 2012 on their EP Four, also commenting in their liner notes of the relatively prosperous and respected life of the lace weavers before the industrial revolution.

GreenMatthews sang The Bone Lace Weaver on their 2019 CD Roots & Branches. They noted:

We heard this song performed by a floor spot at The Bothy Folk Club in Southport and instantly decided to plagiarise it (apparently it only counts as research if you steal material from multiple sources). The song was originally a poem—in this case written by Leonard Wheatcroft of Ashover in the year 1650. Given the time in which it was written, it’s a surprisingly feminist song. The song also features Sophie [Matthews]'s baroque musette—a small 18th century bagpipe of the French court that died almost overnight with the French Revolution.

Lyrics

Leonard Wheatcroft's The Bone Lace Weavers Song

I am a maid new com to towne
But lounge I will not tarry.
I have but two years for to stay
and then I thinke to marry;
But if a briske younge man com in,
And that is no deceiver,
To corte him then I will begin
Like a bone-lace weaver.

If that he be a gentellman
And vowes he'll love me kindly
Then for him I'le doe what I can
And strive to please him finely.
Of if he be a yoman good,
And to me no decever,
Then I will strive to pleas his mood,
Like a bone-lace weaver.

We get our living with our handes,
Having our wits about us.
We hope to purches hous & lands,
Tho young men the[y] doe flout us.
But let them all say what y can
Wee'l trust no decever,
Wee'l sing you songs of peg and nan,
Like a bone-lace weaver.

We keepe out hands both whit and neat,
Our pritty lace to handle,
We sing our sonits all compleat,
By daylight or a candell,
And when out Task we ended have,
Our Mistris shews such fancy,
We sport and sing, that all doth ring,
O Brave Bone-lace weaver.

And thus we leade most merry lives,
We heed no young mens saying
We scorne for to be married wives,
Wee'l keepe our fingers playing.
Wee'l weare brave laces on our heads,
We scorne as yeat a beaver,
Wee'l worke a pace, Brave flanders lace
O brave Bone-lace weaver.

GreenMatthews sing The Bone Lace Weaver

I am a maid new come to town
But long I will not not tarry,
I have but two years for to stay
And then I think to marry.
But if a brisk young man come in
And he is no deceiver
To court him then I will begin
Like a bone-lace weaver.

If that he be a gentleman
And vows he'll love me kindly
Then for him I'll do what I can
And strive to please him finely.
Or if he be a yeoman good,
And to me no deceiver,
Then I will strive to please his mood
Like a bone-lace weaver.

We get our living with our hands
And have our wits about us.
We hope to purchase house and lands
Though young men they do flout us.
But let them all say what they can
We'll trust in no deceiver,
We'll sing you songs of peg and nan,
Like a bone-lace weaver.

We keep our hands both white and neat
Our pretty lace to handle,
We sing our sonnets all complete
By daylight or a candle,
And when our task we ended have
Our Mistress shows such fancy
We sport and sing, that all do ring,
O brave bone-lace weaver.

And thus we lead most merry lives
We heed no young mens saying
We scorn for to be married wives
We'll keep our fingers playing.
We'll wear brave laces on our heads
We scorn as yeat a beaver,
We'll work apace brave Flanders lace
O brave bone-lace weaver.