> Lal & Norma Waterson > Songs > The Wealthy Squire

The Girl I Left Behind / The Wealthy Squire

[ Roud 262 ; Master title: The Girl I Left Behind ; Laws P1 ; G/D 5:1059 ; Henry H188 ; Ballad Index LP01 ; Bodleian Roud 262 ; trad.]

Jean Ritchie sang The Girl I Left Behind in 1954 on her Elektra album Kentucky Mountain Songs.

Lal and Norma Waterson sang The Wealthy Squire in 1977 on their album A True Hearted Girl. Rachel Straw, Eliza Carthy and Marry and Eleanor Waterson sang it at the Waterson Family’s concert at Hull Truck Theatre on 15 August 2010 which pas published a year later on their DVD Live at Hull Truck. Bob Hudson notes:

In the Watersons’ version, the tune of this song is close to that of We Poor Labouring Men. Often referred to as The Girl I Left Behind, this song is found on both sides of the Atlantic, although in the United States the “wealthy squire” becomes a “wealthy farmer”. Bob Dylan, who took his version from Woody Guthrie (who else?), recorded it for Oscar Brand’s radio show in 1961 and later adapted the tune to his own unreleased song Long Time Gone.

Isla Cameron sang My Parents Raised Me Tenderly in 1966 on her eponymous Transatlantic album Isla Cameron. She commented in her sleeve notes:

Learned from Jean Ritchie, who said it was a fragment of a longer Scottish ballad. Old Georges Square could possibly be St Georges Square in Glasgow—but I’ve never heard it sung in Scotland. The theme is a common enough one…

Dave and Toni Arthur sang a close relative to this song, All Frolicking I’ll Give Over, in 1969 on their Topic album The Lark in the Morning. This track was also included in 2001 on the Fellside anthology on harmony singing, Voices in Harmony.

Bob Davenport and the Rakes sang The Wealthy Squire in 1997 on their Fellside CD The Red-Haired Lad.

John Lilly sang I’ve Always Been a Rambler on the 2017 Appalachian ballad tradition anthology Big Bend Killing.


Lal and Norma Waterson sing The Wealthy Squire

There was a wealthy squire once lived in the town of Rye
He had a lovely daughter and on her I cast me eye
He had a lovely daughter, she was beautiful and fair
And there is no-one in this wide wide world that with her can compare

I asked her if she’d marry me while I sailed o’er the main
And would she does prove faithful until I return again
She said she would prove faithful if I proved true in kind
So we kissed shook hands and parted and I left my love behind

Twas on a summer’s evening as I walked through Georges Square
I overtook the mail cart aye and the postman met me there
He gave to me a letter which made me understand
That the only girl I ever loved had wed another man

In reading the letter over and in finding all was true
I turned around upon my heels not knowing what to do
And maybe I’ll give over and company I’ll resign
And I’ll roam around from town to town for the girl I left behind


Transcribed by Garry Gillard. Thanks to Bob Hudson for the note.