> Folk > Songs > The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington

The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington

[ Roud 483 ; Child 105 ; G/D 1:168 ; Ballad Index C105 ; Bodleian Roud 483 ; Wiltshire 548 ; trad.]

Albert Beale of Kenardington, Kent, sang The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington on a BBC recording made on January, 14, 1954 to Peter Kennedy, which was included in 2000 on the Rounder anthology Classic Ballads of Britain and Ireland Volume 1.

Daisy Chapman of Buchan, Aberdeenshire, sang The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington at the Aberdeen Folk Festival traditional concert in October 1968. This recording by Peter Shepheard was included in 2000 on her Musical Traditions anthology Ythanside. Rod Stradling commented in the album's booklet:

This widely known traditional ballad was first published in Bishop Percy's Reliques of English Poetry in 1765. Bertrand Bronson in his Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads includes more than 30 different tunes to the ballad from England, Scotland and north America, several of which come from Gavin Greig's collection.

It was very popular (at one time) in England—rather obviously—and also in Canada and the USA, with 109 instances listed in Roud. There are only 11 Scottish examples, and mostly from Aberdeenshire—it appears in GD and in Keith's Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads, where 5 tunes are given, one of which is similar to Daisy's.

Only eight other sound recordings are known (seven from England and one from Vermont, USA), by Sam Bennett, Ben Baxter, Freda Palmer, Alf Wildman and, still available, Bob Lewis (Veteran VT120) and Albert Beale (Rounder CD1775 Classic Ballads Vol 1). Mike Yates comments that all the English versions are very similar—so much so that he's sure there must have been a widely available common source (a school book, perhaps?) Daisy's has some elements not present in the English versions, which may point to a different point of origin—but we've been unable to establish any substantiating evidence for his theory.

Alf Wildman sang The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington on February 25, 1970 at the King's Head Folk Club in North London. This recording was included in 2012 on the Musical Traditions anthology King's Head Folk Club.

Jon Rennard sang The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington in 1970 on his first Traditional Sound Recordings album, Brimbledon Fair.

Freda Palmer of Witney, Oxfordshire sang The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington to Mike Yates on October 15, 1972 This recording was included in 1975 on Topic's anthology of countryside songs from Southern England, When Sheepshearing's Done.

Bob Lewis of Patcham, Sussex, sang The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington to Mike Yates in 1989. This recording was published on his Veteran Tapes cassette of Sussex family songs, A Sweet Country Life, and in 2005 on the Veteran anthology CD, Itnbsp;Was on a Market Day—One. He also sang it at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2009. A recording of this concert was released a year later as his CD Drive Sorrows Away. Mike Yates commented in the Veteran CD's notes:

True Love Requited; or, The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington was printed as a blackletter broadside by P. Brooksby, at the Golden Ball in London's Pye-Corner sometime towards the end of the 17th century. Fifty years later Cluer Dicey, a printer then working in Bow Churchyard, included the song in his catalogue. In 1764 Dicey joined up with Richard Marshall and the pair continued to issue ballads, including The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington, at Aldermary Churchyard. A couple of 19th century printers, Jackson of Birmingham and Shelmerdine of Manchester, kept the song in print and versions have been collected throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and America. Most versions seem to be very similar; both in text and tune, and this may be because the words were printed in various issues of the Music Hall Monthly Song Book (probably dating from the end of the 19th century) and in such books as The News Chronicle Songbook c.1930. It was also popularised by Music Hall singer Ernest Pike, who also sang The Gypsy's Warning and There's a Long, Long Trail A-Winding. As this latter song was written in 1913, Pike must have been singing The Bailiff's Daughter around that time. Bob's minor tune however, learnt from his mother, is not the one commonly heard today, but is one that, over the years, has more usually been used for a number of folk carols.

Lyrics

Daisy Chapman sings The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington

There was a youth and a well beloved youth,
And he was a squire's son;
He loved a bailiff's daughter dear,
That lived in Islington.

Now when his friends did understand,
His fond and foolish mind,
They sent him up to London town,
An apprentice for to bind.

Now when he had been seven long years,
No trace of her could he find;
“Many's the tear have I shed for her sake,
When she little thought of me.”

Then all the maids of Islington
Went forth to sport and play
All but the bailiff's daughter dear
She secretly stole away.

And as she walked along the high road,
The weather being hot and dry;
She sat her down on a green bank,
And her true-love came riding by.

She started up with colour so red,
Catching hold of his bridle rein;
“One penny, one penny, kind sir,” she said,
“Will ease me of much pain.”

“Before I give you a penny, fair maid,
Pray tell me where you were born?”
“At Islington, kind sir,” she said,
“Where I've had many's the scorn.”

“I prithee, maiden, tell to me,
Pray tell me whether you know,
The bailiff's daughter of Islington?”
“She is dead, sir, long ago.”

“If she be dead, then take my horse,
My saddle and bridle also;
For I will to some far country,
Where no one shall me know.”

“Oh stay, oh stay, thou goodly youth,
She standeth by thy side;
She is here alive, she is not dead,
But ready to be thy bride.”

“Oh farewell grief, and welcome joy,
Ten thousand times therefore;
For now I've found mine own true love,
Whom I thought I should never see no more.”

Alf Wildman sings The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington

There was a youth, and a well-beloved youth,
And he was a squire's son,
He loved the bailiff's daughter dear
That lived in Islington.

Now when his friends did understand
His fond but foolish mind,
They sent him up to fair London
An apprentice for to bind.

Now when he had been gone seven long years
And his true love never could find,
Up to fair London she would go
To prove his secret mind.

She started off along the highway
In the summer hot and dry,
She sat herself down on a green mossy bank
And her love came riding by.

She started up with her colour so red,
Catching hold of the bridle-rein,
“One penny, one penny, kind sir”, she said,
“Will ease me of much pain.”

“Before I give to you one penny,
Pray tell me where you were born?”
“At Islington, kind Sir”, she said,
“I left there yester-morn.”

“Then if you were born at Islington
Pray tell me whether you know
The bailiff's daughter of Islington?”
“She's dead, long, long ago.”

“Then if she be dead then take my horse,
My saddle and bridle also,
For I will to some foreign country go
Where no man shall me know.”

“Oh stay, oh stay, thou goodly youth
She is not dead, she's here alive.
The bailiff's daughter of Islington
She is ready to be your bride.”

“Oh farewell grief and welcome joy,
Ten thousand times therefore.
For I have found my own true love
I thought I'd see no more.”

Bob Lewis sings The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington

There was a youth and a well-bred youth,
He was a squire’s son,
He fell in love with the Bailiff’s daughter dear
That lived in Islington.

But she was coy and never would
On him her heart bestow,
Till he was sent to London Town
Because he loved her so.

And when he had served his seven long years,
And ne’er his love could see,
“Oh, many tears have I shed for her sake
And she’s little thought of me.”

Then all the maids of Islington
Went forth to sport and play,
All but the Bailiff’s daughter dear,
She secretly stole away.

She pulled off her gown of green
And put on mean attire
And straight to London she did go
Her true love to inquire.

And as she went along the road,
The weather being fine and dry,
She sat her down on a mossy bank
And her true love came riding by.

She stepped up to his horse’s head
Took hold of the bridal rein
And she said “Kind sir, will you let me ride a mile
To ease my weary pain?”

He says, “Fair maid, whence came you from?
Oh, where were you bred and born?”
“In fair Islington, kind sir” said she,
“Where I’ve had many a scorn”.

“I prithee sweetheart tell to me,
Oh, tell me whether you know
The Bailiff’s daughter of that place.”
“She died, sir, long ago.”

“If she be dead, then take my horse,
My saddle and bridle also
And I will away to some foreign land
Where no man shall me know.”

“Oh no, kind sir, do not do so,
For she is by your side.
She is here alive, she is not dead,
And ready to be thy bride.”

“Oh, farewell to father and farewell to mother,
Farewell to friend and foe.
For now I’ll enjoy my own true love
Whom I thought was dead so long ago.”