> Cyril Tawney > Songs > The Hostess's Daughter
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The Hostess's Daughter / I Sowed Some Seeds

[ Roud 914 ; Master title: The Hostess's Daughter ; Ballad Index ReSh045 ; VWML HAM/2/2/18 , HAM/4/23/20 , SBG/2/2/144 ; Bodleian Roud 914 ; Mudcat 19261 ; trad.]

Cyril Tawney sang The Hostess's Daughter in a recording made in 1971, but the ensuing LP of seduction songs from the Baring-Gould manuscripts, Down Among the Barley Straw, wasn't published until 1976. He noted:

James Masters, of Strawberry Fair fame, was also the source of this delicate piece of indelicacy. The text preserved in the MS did not completely escape censorship, however. We are told that James Parsons also sang it, “with a verse too gross for insertion”.

Robin and Barry Dransfield sang I Sowed Some Seeds in 1977 on their Free Reed album Popular to Contrary Belief.

Martin Carthy sang I Sowed Some Seeds on his 1982 album Out of the Cut; this track was also included in 1993 on his anthology The Collection. John Kirkpatrick played concertina and Howard Evans trumpet. Martin Carthy also performed this song live in 2003 on the DVD The Four Martins. He noted in the first album:

I Sowed Some Seeds comes basically from a Mr Ishmael Cornisk [ VWML HAM/2/2/18 ] . In Frank Purslow's book The Wanton Seed it is published under the title The Hostess's Daughter and the text here is a collation of his text, with text from James Reeves's The Everlasting Circle and The Idiom of the People. In a sense, a woman would have an easier time repelling a raider than somebody whose intentions are apparently serious.

Frank Purslow noted in The Wanton Seed:

Hammond D.560/S.46. The tune [is] from Ishmael Cornick (Burstock, Dorset, June 1906) and partly from Mrs Gulliver of Combe Florey, Somerset, 1905. Cornick's text was fragmentary and his tune was four bars longer than Mrs Gulliver's; it was, however, the better tune, so I omitted the first four bars (which were the same as the second four) and rearranged the text to fit the tune. Baring-Gould published a completely rewritten version in Songs of the West, but his manuscript text, although probably touched up, agrees in outline with those of the Hammonds' two singers. (See James Reeves's The Everlasting Circle No. 72; also the Sharp fragment in The Idiom of the People No. 45). The tune has great affinity with Bold General Wolfe in Marrow Bones.

Nick Dow sang The Hostess's Daughter on his 1986 album of love songs from the British Tradition, A Mark Upon the Earth and on his 2020 album In a Garden Grove. He noted on the first album:

The Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould was shocked to find the traditional singer Mr Masters singing such an unabashed song of pregnancy and desertion in 1896 [ VWML SBG/2/2/144 ] . He promptly re-wrote the words for his book Songs of the West, leaving me to track down the original in James Reeves Idiom of the People, and swipe another verse from Somerset.

and on the second:

I have revisited this song. I originally included it on my LP A Mark Upon the Earth. It was my most succesful, but my least favourite LP from the 1980s. I have mellowed considerably both musically and personally, and I have re-arranged the song to suit my playing and singing in 2019. The song can be found in Baring-Gould's Manuscript but I took one verse from Somerset. The singer was John Masters and his words were re-written by the collector. This is a close as I can get to the original.

Faustus sang The Hostesses Daughter in 2008 on their eponymous Navigator CD, Faustus, referring in their liner notes to Ishmael Cornick's version too.

Salt House sang I Sowed Some Seeds on their 2018 CD Undersong. They noted:

Roud Number 914 (The New Bachelor / The Hostess's Daughter), published in The Wanton Seed by Frank Purslow.

New music for an old ballad from Dorset / Somerset telling a sorry story of pregnancy and desertion.


Martin Carthy sings I Sowed Some Seeds

When first to London town I came
I took my lodging all at some inn.
For full five months I did remain
But being a stranger I fell in danger
Doing so, doing so.

The landlord had a daughter fair,
She was a beauty I do declare.
In her bedchamber I dared not go
But being a stranger I fell in danger
Doing so, doing so.

She'd ruby lips and she'd eyes of blue,
They caused me to love her so;
I kissed her lips, her bosom too,
But being a stranger I fell in danger
Doing so, doing so.

All in the grove my seed was sown,
All in the grove where grew no green.
The more I kissed her, this girl being young,
The more I kissed her her eyes did glister
Like the rising of the sun.

The seeds of love, they grew apace,
The tears they blossomed all on her face.
All for to reap it I would not stay
But being a stranger I fell in danger,
Ran away, I ran away.

Now when nine long months they were gone and past
This pretty girl had her babe at last.
She must keep it like it was her own
And reap the seeds I myself have sown
Doing so, doing so.

Salt House sing I Sowed Some Seeds

I sowed some seeds all in,
Some grove there grows no green.
For to repeat I could not stir,
I being a stranger, I fell in danger
For doing so, for doing so.

The seeds they grew apace,
The tears were on her face.
All for to reap I could not stay
For being a stranger I fell in danger
For doing so, for doing so.

When nine long months was gone this girl had a fine son.
Now she must keep and call her own
And reap the seed that I have sown.
For being a stranger I fell in danger
For doing so, for doing so.

I sowed on yonder hills
And how to reap I dare not,
And how to reap I dare not say.
For being a stranger I felt in danger
I runned away, I runned away for doing so.