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Thomas of Yonderdale

[ Roud 3890 ; Child 253 ; Ballad Index C253 ; trad.]

Steve Turner sang Thomas of Yonderdale in 2012 on his Tradition Bearers CD Rim of the Wheel. He commented in his liner notes:

I was so taken aback on first reading this extraordinary story that I almost left the song alone. But on further thought I realised that not much had changed in the world and that a press report of this wouldn’t surprise you. The action happens pretty quickly too. Basically Thomas goes on holiday and proposes to his holiday romance. When he returns, his fiancee who was left at home is none too pleased. So he invites her to the wedding! He then decides that he wants his fiancee back and tries to fob off the holiday romance with the equivalent of a sports car. But Thomas has taken on a more feisty woman than he realised. She demand that he gives her everything he owns and rounds it off by forcing him to pay his brother to marry her! (The sort of thing you read about every week in the Sunday papers?!)


Steve Turner sings Thomas of Yonderdale

Lady Mary sits all in her bower, the fairest lady you ever did see,
Her gowns were of the finest silks, her coats were of the organdie.
And many a knight came courting her, and gentlemen o high degree,
But it was Thomas of Yonderdale that gained the love of this fair lady.

“Now if Saturday is bonny day then, my love, I’ll sail the sea,
And if I live to return again then, my love, I’ll marry thee.”
And Saturday was a bonny day and fair and leasome blew the wind,
And the ships did sail and the boats did row, which took true Thomas to foreign lands.

But he hadn’t been on the foreign shore a month, a month but barely three,
Till he fell in love with another maid and he soon forgot Lady Mary.
One night as he lay on his bed a dreary dream then dreamed he,
That Mary stood by his own bedside upbraiding his inconstancy.

So he called upon his little foot-page, saying, “Bring a candle that I might see,
And you must go this very night with a message for the fair lady.
Tell her to dress in the gowns of silk, likewise in the coats of organdie,
And bid her come along with you, true Thomas’s wedding for to see.”

So she’s dressed all in the finest silks, and her coats were of the organdie.
And she’s away to the foreign land, true Thomas’s wedding for to see.
And all along her horse’s mane the bonny bells so loud did ring,
And all upon her saddle bow a courtly bird did sweetly sing.

And the bells did ring and the birds did sang, and they rode all on yon pleasant plain,
And soon she met Lord Thomas’s bride with all her maidens and her young men.
And the bride she looked around her then, “I wonder,” says she, “what this may be?
Surely it is our Royal queen, come here my wedding for to see.”

But out then speaks the little foot-page, says, “You must not lift your head so high,
For this is Thomas’s own first love come here your wedding for to see.”
Out then speaks true Thomas’s bride, and I swear the tear did blind her eye,
“If this is Thomas’s own first love, I’m sore afraid he’ll never have me.”

But in it comes her Lady Mary and she’s lightly stepping on the floor,
“What is your will, Thomas?” she says, “this day, you know, you called me here?”
“Come hither by me, you lily flower, come here and sit you down by me,
For you’re the flower all in my bower and you my wedded wife shall be.”

But in it comes true Thomas’s bride and aye she’s stepping on the stone,
“What is your will, Thomas?” she says, “this day, you know, you called me home?”
“You came here on a hired horse, but you’ll go home in a coach and three,
For here’s the flower all in my bower I mean my wedded wife shall be.”

“Oh will you break your lands, Thomas, and will you part them in divisions three,
And give one of them to your own brother, and cause your brother to marry me?”
“Oh yes, I’ll break my lands,” he said, “and a third of them will I give to thee.
But my brother’s a man o wealth and might, and he’ll wed none but he will for me.”