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Betsy Baker

[ Roud 1288 ; Ballad Index R117 ; trad.]

Bill White from Ugthorpe, Yorkshire, sang Betsy Baker to Colin S. Wharton. This recording was included in 2019 on the Musical Traditions anthology of Songs of the Norh Riding from the Colin S. Wharton collection.

John Faulkner sang Betsy Baker in 1966 on the Critics Group’s argo album of London songs, Sweet Thames Flow Softly.

Bellowhead recorded Betsy Baker in March 2012 for their CD Broadside where they noted:

This broadside ballad from the 1820s turns up as far afield as West Virginia, although this version was collected not far from sunny Swindon by Alfred Williams. The original broadside is quite wordy, and the tune pretty forgettable. Our version is a tribute to the blessed amnesia of the oral tradition, and to the fact that Alfred Williams—man of many parts though he was—couldn’t read music for toffee.

Bellowhead also sang in live on their farewell tour in November 2015 which was released in the following year on CD and DVD as The Farewell Tour. This YouTube video shows them at Steam Museum in Swindon on 4 March 2012:


Bellowhead sing Betsy Baker

From noise and bustle far away
As I walked over each acre
I never knew what it was to sigh
Till I saw Betsy Baker

At church I met her dressed so neat
One Sunday in hot weather
With love I found my heart did beat
As we sang psalms together

So modestly she turned her head
The while her voice did quaver
I thought if ever I did wed
’Twould be with Betsy Baker

When church was over out she went
But I did follow after
Determined I would not be baulked
I spoke to Betsy Baker

But all my entreaties she did slight
And I was forced to leave her
I got no sleep at all that night
For love had brought a fever

At last she got acquainted with
A rambling mad play actor
He gammoned her to run away
And I lost Betsy Baker

Though I strive another way
My heart will never forsake her
I dream all night and think all day
Of cruel Betsy Baker