‘Twas down in a valley a fair maid did dwell,
She lived with her uncle, as all knew full well;
‘Twas down in the valley, where violets were gay,
Three gypsies betrayed her and stole her away.
Long time she’d been missing and could not be found,
Her uncle, he searched the country around,
Till he came to her trustee, between hope and fear,
The trustee made answer “She has not been here’
The trustee spake up with a courage so bold,
“I fear she’s been lost for the sake of her gold;
So we’ll have life for life, sir,” the trustee did say,
“We shall send you to prison, and there you shall stay!’
There was a young squire that loved her so,
Oft times to the schoolhouse together they did go;
“I'm afraid she is murdered; so great is my fear,
If I’d wings like a dove I would fly to my dear!”
He travelled through England, through France and through Spain,
Till he yentured his life on the watery main;
And he came to a house where he lodged for a night,
And in that same house was his own heart’s delight.
When she saw him, she knew him, and flew to his arms,
She told him her grief while he gazed on her charms.
“How came you to Dublin, my dearest, I pray?”
“Three gypsies betrayed me, and stole me away?’
“Your uncle’s in England; in prison doth lie,
And for your sweet sake is condemned for to die’
“Carry me to old England, my dearest,” she cried;
“One thousand I’ll give you, and will be your bride!’
When she came to old England, her uncle to see,
The cart it was under the high gallows tree.
“Oh, pardon! oh, pardon! oh, pardon! I crave!
Don’t you see I’m alive, your dear life to save?”
Then straight from the gallows they led him away,
The bells they did ring, and the music did play;
Every house in the valley with mirth did resound,
As soon as they heard the lost lady was found.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: Broadwood, L, 1908, English Traditional Songs and Carols, London, Boosey
In the book, the music is written with variations for each verse. Only the tune for the first verse is given here.
Sung by Mrs Hill, 1893.
Lucy Broadwood wrote:
Mrs. Hill, an old family nurse, and a native of Stamford, learned her delightful song when a child, from an old cook who danced as she sang it, beating time on the stone kitchenfloor with her iron pattens. The cook was thus unconsciously carrying out the original intention of the "ballad" which is the English equivalent of the Italian "balletta" (from ballare," to dance") signifying a song to dance-measure, accompanied by dancing. The old English form of the word is "ballet," and country-singers invariably use this still. Mrs. Hill followed the ballad-sheet version printed by Such, which is here given. A different version of the ballad, to a good major tune, was noted by the Rev. John Broadwood before 1840 (see Sussex Songs). Other versions and tunes are in Barrett's English Folk Songs, and Journal of the Folk Song Society, Vol. ii, No. 7. Brock, of Bristol, printed a similar ballad in broadside form. The tune should be compared with that of 2The Lament of the Duchess of Gloucester" (words modern), in Gill's Manx National Songs (Boosey & Co.), and with certain Dorian versions of 'Green Bushes."
Roud: 901 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six