> Folk Music > Songs > The Reed Cutter’s Daughter

The Reed Cutter’s Daughter

[ Roud 5397 ; Mudcat 157595 ; trad.]

Jeff Wesley of Whittlesbury, Northamptonshire, sang The Reed Cutter’s Daughter in 1988 to John Howson. This recording was published on Wesley’s Veteran Tapes cassette Brisk and Bonny Lad: Songs From a Northamptonshire Farmer (VT 116). It was also included in 2008 on the Veteran anthology CD It Was on a Market Day—One. Mike Yates commented in the latter album’s notes:

This is probably quite a recent composition. Jeff heard it being sung on the television. Originally the story was told from the girl’s point of view, but Jeff changed it round, making the boy the storyteller. Hoveton, mentioned in the song, is near Wroxham in the Norfolk Broads.

Jack Rutter of Moore Moss Rutter learnt The Reed Cutter’s Daughter from the singing of Jeff Wesley and sang it in 2015 on their CD Moore Moss Rutter II.

Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith sang Reedcutter’s Daughter on their 2018 CD Many a Thousand. They noted:

A traditional song about a traveller who falls in love with a girl from Hoveton—a village very close to where we both grew up. He has to decide whether to settle down with her or to follow the call of the road. The song was adapted by Jeff Wesley of Whittlesbury, Northamptonshire, and sang to John Howson in 1988. Our version is sung over the stunning organ in St Helens, Hoveton.


Jeff Wesley sings The Reed Cutter’s Daughter

Come all you young fellows who intend to start roaming,
Pray pay attention and listen to me.
For I once loved a girl and I would have married
But I belonged to the road and I had to be free.
For I was a tinker a-fixing and mending
Camped by a village and earning my pay,
While she had a house and a father to care for,
The reed cutter’s daughter from Hoveton way.

For the times they are hard when a girl loves a rover,
When really she shouldn’t and knows that it’s so.
Each night as the sun set to me should wander,
Each morn as it rose to the house she would go.
I knew that some day we’d be sad for the parting
Each morn I would wish and each night I would pray,
So happy together with this blue-eyed maiden,
The reed cutter’s daughter from Hoveton way.

When I think of the short time that we spent together
Often a frown passes over my brow.
She told me that some day I’d grow to forget her
But many’s the time that I think of her now.
I was cruel to be kind when the time came for parting
With a kiss and a smile and “I’ll see you again”.
But just as I found her I left her a-standing
The reed cutter’s daughter from Hoveton way.

Yes, I thought it was cruel, now I see it was kindness.
She could not leave there and I could not stay.
But oft times I wonder if I’m still remembered
By the reed cutter’s daughter from Hoveton way,
By the reed cutter’s daughter from Hoveton way.