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The Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter
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The Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter
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A.L. Lloyd sang The Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter on the 1966 Topic album of tradtional erotic songs, The Bird in the Bush. He was accompanied by Dave Swarbrick on fiddle and Alf Edwards on concertina. He recorded it a second time in 1966 for his album The Best of A.L. Lloyd. Lloyd said in the latter album’s sleeve notes:
The ballad scholar Francis James Child was sent a copy of this sly song but he omitted it from his printed collection. He rejected a number of ballads that he felt offended against the prevailing standard of decency, and perhaps that was his reason here. Fortunately the folk have not been so squeamish as the scholars, and so the humorous tale of the girl so innocent that she thought her lost maidenhead could be replaced if she lay downside up, has survived in good shape in oral tradition despite its absence from print.
A third version, recorded by John Kaneen live at the Top Lock Folk Club, Runcorn, on 5 November 1972 was included in 1994 on his compilation Classic A.L. Lloyd and in 2010 on the CD An Evening With A.L. Lloyd.
Eddie Butcher from Londonderry sang The Widow’s Daughter to Hugh Shields on 23 July 1969. This recording was included in 1975 on Shields’ Leader album Folk Ballads from Donegal and Derry.
John Kirkpatrick sang The Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter on his 1972 Trailer album Jump at the Sun with Richard Thompson and Ashley Hutchings playing guitar and bass. For contractual reasons, though, they were masked behind the pseudonyms Agnes Mirren and Humphrey de Echyngham.
Peter Hall sang The Lass o’ the Moorland Hills in 1976 on The Gaugers’ Topic album Beware of the Aberdonian. Duncan MacLennan noted:
This fetching tale of naivete being triumphant over hardened experience is taken from the Gavin Greig manuscripts, the source singer being Miss Annie Shirer of Kininmonth, Aberdeenshire. Traditional songs abound with stories of lost maidenheads; this one is rare in dealing with the technique for regaining them! It is perhaps more generally known in English versions as The Widow of Westmoreland’s Daughter, or in Ireland simply as The Widow of the West Moor Lands.
Linda Adams sang The Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter in 1976 on her and Paul Adams’ Sweet Folk and Country album of songs of Cumbria and the Border, Country Hirings. They noted:
This rather naive song of lust came originally from A.L. Lloyd who wrote the tune for it. Up until recently it had never been found in the oral tradition, but towards the end of 1975 Bert Lloyd wrote to us informing us that Hugh Shields had collected a version of it from Eddie Butcher of Magilligan, Co. Derry, (an area, incidentally, populated by English and Scottish settlers during the 18th and 19th Century).
Dave Swarbrick sang The Widow of Westmorland on Fairport Convention’s 1978 album Tipplers Tales. This track was also included in 1998 on their compilation CD Fiddlestix. A live version from Cropredy 1982 is on the video Forever Young. Another version was recorded live-in-the-studio on their 1987 album In Real Time.
Mick Ryan and John Burge sang The Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter on their 1978 Transatlantic The Leader Tradition album, Fair Was the City.
Kitty Vernon sang The Widow’s Daughter in 1998 on her and Mick Pearce’s WildGoose CD Dark the Day. She noted:
Also known as The Widow of the Westmorland, this tale of a naive girl whose knowledge of reproductive biology seems scant came from the singing of the Northern Ireland singer Eddie Butcher.
Steve Turner sang Lass of the Moorland Hill in 2012 on his Tradition Bearers album Rim of the Wheel. He commented:
This is a Scots version of the more well known Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter (first recorded by A.L. Lloyd in 1966). I managed to persuade Heather Heywood to give me the words when she came along and sang it magnificently at my booking at Irvine in 2011. She tells me she got it from The Gaugers, a group from Aberdeenshire who recorded it for Topic Records in the 1960s. Child was sent a version but omitted it from his ballad collection as it “offended prevailing standards of decency”.
A.L. Lloyd sings The Widow of Westmorland’s Daughter on Classic A.L. Lloyd
There was a widow in Westmorland who had no daughter but one.
And she has prayed both night and day the girl might keep her maidenhead long.
“Oh don’t be daft, dear mother,” she said, “and say no more to me,
For a fine young man in the Grenadier Guards my maidenhead’s taken from me.”
“You saucy cat, you impudent cat, then cursed may you be
If some idle young rogue in the Grenadier Guards your maidenhead’s taken from thee.”
So the gal is off to the grenadier guard as fast as go could she,
Saying, “Give me back my maidenhead for my mommy she nags at me.”
So he kissed her and undressed her and he laid her on the bed
And he set her head where her feet was before and so give back her maidenhead.
And then he kissed her and he dressed her with a rose in either hand
And then invited her round to St Mary’s Church to see his fine wedding.
So the gal’s off back to her mother’s house as fast as go could she.
“I’m as whole a maiden, mother dear, as the day that you bore me.
For he kissed me and undressed me and he laid me on the bed
And then he set my head where my feet was before and so give back my maidenhead.
Then he kissed me and he dressed me with a rose in either hand
And invited me round to St Mary’s Church to see his fine wedding.”
“Oh never on foot,” the mother she said, “and a carriage-and-pair you’ll ride
And four-and-twenty fine young girls shall walk with you beside.”
“Oh who is this,” the bride she said, “that comes so high to me?
I see it is the widow’s daughter who ran home and told her mummy.
How could she do it, how would she do it? How could she do it for shame?
Eleven long nights I lay with a man and I never told anyone.”
He said, “If eleven long nights you lay with a man, you never shall lie with me.
I’d rather marry the widow’s daughter who ran home and told her mummy.”
Steve Turner sings Lass of the Moorland Hill
There lived a lady on the Moorland Hill,
And she had no daughter but one,
And a prayer was said every morning and night,
“Keep your maidenhead as long as you can, you can, you can,
Keep your maidenhead as long as you can.”
“Oh hold your tongue, my mother dear,
Don’t say a prayer for me.
For the bonniest lad in the Queen’s Light Guard
My maidenhead has taken from me, from me,
My maidenhead has taken from me.”
So the mother she has taken a stick
And when that she’s beaten her sore
She said, “You can go from here whenever you like
For I never want to see you anymore, anymore,
For I never want to see you anymore.”
Then she’s run back to the Queen’s Light Guard
As fast as she could run.
“For the loss of my maidenhead my mother grieves sore,
So give it me back again, again,
So give it me back again.”
So he took her by the middle so small
And he kissed her cheek and chin,
And he laid her head where her feet were before
And he gave it her back again, again,
And he gave it her back again.
Then he took her by the milk white hand
And he raised her up again,
And invited her down to St Patrick’s Church
To see his fine wedding, wedding,
To see his fine wedding.
Then she ran back to her mother dear
As fast as she could run,
Saying, “Mother dear, please let me in,
For he gave it me back again, again,
He gave it me back again.
“Oh he kissed me and he caressed me
With a red rose under his chin,
And invited me down to St Patrick’s Church
To see his fine wedding, wedding,
To see his fine wedding.”
“Oh you won’t go there in your working clothes
Nor yet will you go alone.
But you will go in a coach and four,
Ten maidens to bear you along, along,
Ten maidens to bear you along.”
She she’s put on her very best clothes,
And her maids in the holland fine,
And when they got to St Patrick’s Church
All the wedding guest thought her a queen, a queen,
All the wedding guest thought her a queen.
“Who’s that, who’s that?” said the light guard’s bride,
“That lady of high degree,
With ten bonny maidens to bear her along,
Each one would dazzle your eye, your eye,
Each one would dazzle your eye.”
“That’s not but the lass of the Moorland Hill
That lately I laid with,
And when we were done she jumped out of bed
And went home to tell her mother on me, on me,
Went home to tell her mother on me.”
A long laugh then gave the light guard’s bride,
So freely she spoke to him,
Saying, “I have laid with seven different lads
And I never told any of them, of them,
I never told any of them.”
“Well if you have laid with seven different lads,
The eighth one I never will be.”
And he’s taken the lass of the Moorland Hill
And he’s set his own bride free, bride free,
And he’s set his own bride free.
And when bells were rung and the Mass was sung
These two in one bed were laid.
“You can take my maidenhead,” the bonny lass said,
“And I’ll never seek it back again, again,
I’ll never seek it back again.”