> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Young Roger Esq.

The Grey Mare / Roger the Miller and the Grey Mare / Young Roger Esquire

[ Roud 680 ; Master title: The Grey Mare ; Laws P8 ; G/D 4:761 ; Henry H90 ; Ballad Index LP08 ; Bodleian Roud 680 ; Mudcat 5830 ; trad.]

Sabine Baring-Gould, H. Fleetwood Sheppard: Songs of the West Alan Helsdon: Vaughan Williams in Norfolk Volume 2 Gale Huntington: Sam Henry's Songs of the People Frank Kidson: Traditional Tunes Frank Purslow: Marrow Bones

Phil Tanner sang Young Roger Esquire on a BBC recording made on 20 May 1949 in Penmaen on the Welsh Gower peninsula. It was included in 1968 on his eponymous EFDSS album, Phil Tanner, in 2003 on his Veteran anthology CD The Gower Nightingale and in 1998 on the EFDSS anthology A Century of Songs. Roy Palmer noted in the Veteran booklet:

With the alternative titles of Young Roger and the Grey Mare, or simply the last three words alone, this sunny, lighthearted song was popular with broadside printers and singers alike. Judging by the apparent absence of a prior record, it seems to have been written early in the nineteenth century.

Peter Bellamy sang Young Roger Esq. unaccompanied on his second LP, Fair England's Shore (1969). A live recording from 1980 from Sydney Opera House was included on his privately distributed double cassette An Anthology of Traditional Folk Songs 1966-1990 and on the Free Reed anthologies Wake the Vaulted Echoes and The Ballads of Peter Bellamy. Peter Bellamy noted on the original album:

Young Roger Esq. is an unusual song which I learned from a recording of the great Gower singer, Phil Tanner—does that make it a Welsh song? Either way it is an out of the way sort of a tune, and the “punch line” of the story has a rare, sharp humour. There is a last verse to the song, which I have omitted, because I feel that it detracts sadly from the impact of the image of the “young man who come a-courting Father's grey mare”.

Ollie Conway sang The Grey Mare on the 1978 Topic anthology of songs from County Clare, The Lambs on the Green Hills. Roly Brown noted:

Again, this song is familiar enough in England. Baring-Gould and Kidson both have versions as has Purslow in Marrow Bones, p. 40. Ollie got his version from Josie Baker of Cahermurphy near Kilmihil. He heard it too in the Breen household at Kilmihil where he was a frequent visitor. As a child he'd set off or the dairy with ass and cart only to fetch up inevitably in Katie Breen's kitchen where he would pass away the time listening or, sometimes, playing flute with the late Paddy Breen. Inevitably, too, Ollie would get into trouble at home for this.

Roy Harris sang Young Roger Esq in 1985 on his Fellside album Utter Simplicity. He noted:

From the singing of Phil Tanner of the Gower. Not directly of course, but from of the few recordings this great singer made. Even though he was around 80 when recorded, his singing rings with zest and enjoyment—I love it—everybody should sing that way! Check out his album, it's on the EFDSS “Folk Classics” series. ‘Portion’ in this song means a dowry. I've sung this song of the greedy lover's come-uppance for audiences of all ages in Britain, U.S.A. and Australia, and it's always raised a chuckle—Phil Tanner would have liked that, I reckon.

Dr Faustus sang The Grey Mare on their 2005 Fellside CD Wager. They noted:

The Grey Mare is from Frank Kidson's Traditional Tunes, and was sent to him by Mr Lolley of East Yorkshire, who actually seems to have been responsible for most of Kidson's collection.

Jon Boden sang Young Roger Esquire as the 26 June 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He noted in his blog:

A real Bellamy tour-de-force of which this is a pale imitation. Fantastic song though.

Sarah Morgan sang The Grey Mare in 2012 on her live Forest Tracks album with Jeff Gillett, The Flowers and the Wine.

Alice Jones and Bryony Griffith sang The Grey Mare in 2022 on their album of Yorkshire songs, A Year Too Late and a Month Too Soon. Their verses are most of the first version in Frank Kidson's 1891 book, Traditional Tunes, with verse four and the first half of verse five spliced in from Kidson's second version. Kidson noted in his book:

The following was first obtained from my mother, who heard the song sung at Otley, in Yorkshire, about the year 1826-27. I have since found it is also current among old people in other parts of the country.

Mr. Lolley sends me the air as an elderly relative of his had heard it sung in the East Riding. I also find by a copy of the song to a different air, in [Sabine Baring-Gould's] Songs of the West, that it is known in the West of England.

Lyrics

Phil Tanner sings Young Roger Esquire

Young Roger Esquire came a-courting of late,
To a rich farmer's daughter called beautiful Kate.
And she for her fortune had five thousand pounds,
With rich rings and jewels,
With rich rings and jewels and a piece of fine ground.

The day being appointed and the money laid down,
Was that not a fine fortune of five thousand pounds.
Young Roger he swore by his curly long hair,
“I'll not wed your daughter,
I'll not wed your daughter without the grey mare.”

Then spoke up her father and thus say-ed he,
“I thought that you lov-ed my daughter indeed.
But as I have got her thus far in my care,
You shall not have my daughter,
You shall not have my daughter nor yet my grey mare.”

Twelve months being over and a little above,
Young Roger Esquire met Katie, his love.
Saying, “Katie, loving Katie, O don't you know me?”
“Such a man of your likeness I chance for to see,
Such a man of your likeness with curling long hair,
That once came a-courting,
That once came a-courting My father's grey mare.”

Says Roger to Katie, “Them words I'll deny,
And the truth of the story I will on you try.
I thought that your father would have made no dispute,
But to give me his daughter,
But to give me his daughter, and the grey mare to boot.”

Peter Bellamy sings Young Roger Esquire

Young Roger Esquire came a-courting of late,
To a rich farmer's daughter named beautiful Kate;
And she for her fortune had five thousand pound,
With rich rings and jewels,
With rich rings and jewels and a piece of fine ground.

Now the day being appointed and the money laid down
It was not that a fine fortune of five thousand pound.
So young Roger he swore by his curly long hair,
“I will not wed your daughter,
I will not wed your daughter without the grey mare.”

Then up spoke her father and thus say-ed he,
“I thought that you lov-ed my daughter indeed.
But as I do have her thus far in my care
You shall not have my daughter,
You shall not have my daughter nor yet the grey mare.”

So twelve months being over and a little above
Young Roger Esquire met Katie his love
Saying, “Katie, loving Katie, O don't you know me?”
“Such a man of your likeness I chanced for to see,
Such a man of your likeness with curly long hair,
He once came a-courting,
He once came a-courting my father's grey mare.”

Alice Jones and Bryony Griffith sing The Grey Mare

Young Roger the miller he'd courted of late,
A farmer's fair daughter called beautiful Kate;
For she to her fortune had five hundred pounds,
Besides rings and jewels,
Besides rings and jewels, and many fine gowns.

This glittering money, and beauty likewise,
It tickled his fancy and dazzled his eyes;
Which caused young Roger for to tell his mind,
And unto his own true love,
And unto his own true love be constant and kind.

The day being appointed, the money paid down,
It was a fine fortune was five hundred pounds;
Says he, “though your daughter be charming and fair,
I won't have your daughter,
I won't have your daughter without the grey mare.”

The farmer made answer unto him with speed,
“Well, I thought you'd have married my daughter indeed;
But as it so happens my daughter's no worse,
The money again shall,
The money again shall go back in my purse.

“And since it is so I will solemnly swear,
You'll not have my daughter nor yet the grey mare.”
The money was banished right out of his sight,
And so was Miss Kitty,
And so was Miss Kitty, his joy and delight.

And Roger, the rascal, was turned out of door,
They bade him be sure for to come there no more;
Which caused young Roger to tear up his hair,
And wish he had never,
And wish he had never stood for the grey mare.

Then about two years after, or a little above,
Young Roger he met with Miss Kitty his love;
When smiling, said Roger, “Why don't you know me?”
“If I'm not mistaken,
Well, if I'm not mistaken I've seen you,” said she.

“For a man in your likeness with long yellow hair,
Did once come a-courting my father's grey mare.”
“Oh no,” said young Roger, “it's that I'll disclaim,
For it was unto you,
For it was unto you a-courting I came.”

“Oh no,” says Miss Kitty, “I'll also deny,
And the truth of the matter I will testify.
For unto my father I heard you declare,
You'd not have his daughter,
That you'd not have his daughter without the grey mare.”