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The (Poor Old) Weaver's Daughter

[ Roud 1277 ; TYG 48 ; Ballad Index RcWeaDau ; Bodleian Roud 1277 ; Wiltshire Roud 1277 ; trad.]

George ‘Pop’ Maynard sang The Weaver's Daughter on December 3, 1955 in his home in Copthorne, Sussex, in a recording made by Peter Kennedy. This was included in 1976 on Maynard's Topic LP Ye Subjects of England: Traditional Songs from Sussex, and in 1998 on the Topic anthology Come All My Lads That Follow the Plough (The Voice of the People Volume 5). Another version recorded by Brian Matthews on May 18, 1960 at The Cherry Tree in Copthorne was included in 2000 on Maynard's Musical Traditions anthology Down the Cherry Tree. Mike Yates commented in the original album's notes:

Several of Pop's other songs belonged to the “rustic-idyll” class, and suggest an urban, rather than rural origin. The Weaver's Daughter was described as “once popular” by Alfred Williams who noted it once in the Thames Valley some time prior to the Great War. Other collectors seem to have ignored the piece.

Frank Hinchliffe sang The Poor Old Weaver's Daughter in 1977 on his Topic LP In Sheffield Park: Traditional Songs from South Yorkshire. The sleeve notes commented:

Most of the early collectors appear to have either overlooked or ignored this song. It was printed on broadsides by Pearson of Manchester, Fordyce of Newcastle and Harkness of Preston and is listed in the Catnach 1832 catalogue. Alfred Williams published a version in Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames. Its theme is an unusual one. Rarely does it happen in folksong that a young girl refuses a young man for the sake of her old father. George Maynard of Copthorne also knew the song.

The Muckram Wakes sang The Poor Old Weaver's Daughter in 1980 on their LP Warbles, Jangles and Reeds.

Will Noble sang Poor Weaver's Daughter in a recording made by John Howson at Oxspring, Yorkshire in 1992. It was included on the Veteran anthology It Was on a Market Day—Two where Mike Yates noted:

There can be few English folksongs where a young girl refuses to marry a suitor for the sake of her old father. Alfred Williams, who heard it being sung in the Thames Valley in the early 1900s, called it a “pleasant old song”. The song predates 1832 (when it was listed in James Catnach's catalogue of song sheets) and was also printed on sheets by Pitts of London, Williams of Portsea, Harkness of Preston, Wigens of Bath and Taylor of Bristol. The song has been collected only occasionally in England and, to my knowledge, has never turned up elsewhere. Will learnt it from Frank Hinchliffe of Lodgemoor, near Sheffield.

Jon Boden sang The Weaver's Daughter as the March 10, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in the blog:

After setting this lyric from Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames I then heard Will Noble sing a Yorkshire version with a not entirely dissimilar tune. Fay has now taken this on and improved my melody somewhat.

Fay Hield sang The Weaver's Daughter in 2012 on her CD with the Hurricane Party, Orfeo. She commented in her sleeve notes:

Jon happened upon this song in Alfred Williams' Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames (1923) and put a tune to it. Williams cites it as “a pleasant old song, formerly popular in the villages between Cricklade and Cirencester. Obtained of Joseph Bartlett, Down Ampney.” When Jon proudly sang me his newly discovered gem, I rather offhandedly said, oh, Will Noble sings that. It turns out so do a number of other Yorkshire singers, including Roger Hinchliffe, nephew of Frank who recorded a version on his In Sheffield Park LP (1977). Peter Kennedy also recorded George ‘Pop’ Maynard singing it in 1955, subsequently released on Topic's Voice of the People set. I took these several strands and mashed them around a bit. A lovely romantic song, this is rare for its theme of a young girl refusing a young man for the sake of her old father. Or maybe she just didn't fancy him.

This video shows Fay Hield singing The Weaver's Daughter at Bristol Folk Festival on the May Day holiday weekend of 2011:

Andy Turner sang this song as The Woodman's Daughter as the May 5, 2013 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. Cecil Sharp collected this version at Warehorne in Kent on September 23, 1908, from James Beale.

Matt Quinn learned The Poor Weaver's Daughter from the singing of Pop Maynard and recorded it for his 2017 CD The Brighton Line. He commented:

A song most commonly found in Yorkshire, Peter Kennedy collected this in 1955 when Pop Maynard was 83 years old. It's a refreshing change to find a female character in a song who doesn't just say “oh, all right then” when a man tries to seduce her.

Lyrics

Pop Maynard sings The Weaver's DaughterMuckram Wakes sing The Poor Old Weaver's Daughter

As I walked out one May morning,
One May morning quite early,
A lovely lass came tripping by
As light as any fairy.

Oh, as I walked out one May morning
Across the fields so early,
I espied a maid, a most beautiful maid
As bright as any fairy.

I said, “Fair maid, if you'll be mine,”—
And by the hand I caught her—
“I will make you a rich lady gay.”
“Kind sir,” said she, “I thank you.”

I said, “My pretty maid, where art thou going?”
And by the hand I took her.
Oh she blushed and she said, “I'm going home,
I'm a poor old weaver's daughter.”

“Oh, may I go with you my pretty maid?
For gold and silver I've plenty.”
She turned her head and she blushed and she said,
“Oh no, kind sir, I thank you.”

“My poor old mother that's dead and gone
This lesson she has taught me:
To marry for love but not for gold,”
Cried the poor old weaver's daughter.

“My mother she is dead and in her grave,
And the early lesson she taught me
Was to marry for love and not for gold,”
Cried that poor old weaver's daughter.

“My poor old father that's nearly blind
And quite grown past his labour,
'Twould break his heart from me to part,”
Cried the poor old weaver's daughter.

“My father he is old and almost blind
And he is nearly past his labours.
It would break his heart from me to part
For he's been such a good, kind father.”

“So part from me she'll never, never be —
He's a kind and tender father—
Till in his peaceful grave he lies.”
Cried the poor old weaver's daughter.

“So parted from him I never shall be
For he's been such a good, kind father.
And until he's laid in his peaceful grave
I'm a poor old weaver's daughter.”

“Fare thee well, fare thee well sweet maid,” I cried,
“May prospects ever be brighter.
And the lad thou loves be constant and true
And happily be united.”

For friendship's sake this gold ring take.”
Such a lovely maid I thought her,
And as long as I live I never shall forget
That poor old weaver's daughter.

Fay Hield sings The Weaver's Daughter 

As I walked out one morning fair
To view the fields so early
A pretty lass came tripping by
As light as any fairy.

I said, “Fair maid, what brings you here?”
And by the hand I caught her.
I asked her name, she blushed for shame,
“I'm the poor old weaver's daughter,
The poor old weaver's daughter.”

Her hair was black, her eyes were blue,
Her age was almost twenty;
I said, “Fair maid, if you'll be mine,
I've gold and riches plenty.”

“My mother she's not long been dead,
And the lesson that she taught me
Was to marry for love and not for gold,”
Cried the poor old weaver's daughter,
The poor old weaver's daughter.”

“My father he is almost blind
And long gone past his labour.
It'd break his heart from me to part,”
Cried the poor old weaver's daughter,
The poor old weaver's daughter.”

I turned around to go my way
And bade farewell forever,
I wish this maiden all the joy
And love long life can bring her.

I'll ne'er forget the day we met
By fields of shining water.
But wherever she's gone my heart belongs
To the poor old weaver's daughter,
The poor old weaver's daughter,
The poor old weaver's daughter.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café threads Poor Old Weaver's Daughter and Tune Req: Poor Old Weaver's Daughter.