> Silly Sisters > Songs > Hedger and Ditcher

Nobody’s Coming to Marry Me / My Father’s a (Hedger and Ditcher) / Seven Braw Gowns

[ Roud 846 ; Master title: Nobody’s Coming to Marry Me ; G/D 7:1385 ; Ballad Index BrII185 ; Bodleian Roud 846 ; Wiltshire 983 , 1164 ; Mudcat 18314 , 120843 ; trad.]

David Herd: Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, etc., Second Volume Alfred Williams: Folk Songs of the Upper Thames

Mary Ann Carolan sang My Father’s a Hedger and Ditcher in her home in Hill o’ Rath, Co. Louth in 1978. This recording was included in 1982 on her Topic album Songs From the Irish Tradition and in 1998 on the Topic anthology There Is a Man Upon the Farm (The Voice of the People Volume 20).

Battlefield Band sang Seven Braw Gowns in 1979 on their Topic album Stand Easy. They noted:

This song is a version of Slighted Nancie, which appears in Allan Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany. The tune was written by [the band’s piper] Duncan [MacGillivray].

Silly Sisters (Maddy Prior and June Tabor) learned Hedger and Ditcher from Mary Ann Carolan’s singing, and sang it in 1988 on their second album, No More to the Dance. This track was also included in 2009 on Topic’s 70th anniversary anthology, Three Score and Ten.

Jane and Amanda Threlfall sang Hedger and Ditcher on their 2007 CD Revisited. They noted:

The origin of this version of Hedger and Ditcher is from the singing of Mary Ann Carolan. A Wiltshire version appears in Folk Songs of the Upper Thames (Alfred Williams, 1923) under the title There’s Nobody Comes to Marry Me. The additional verse of opposing sentiment is from Sorry the Day I Was Married, learned from the singing of Maria Cunningham.

Ruth Notman sang The Hedger and Ditcher in 2009 on her Mrs Casey album The Life of Lilly.

Barbara Dymock sang a medley of the three songs Och Hey Johnny Lad, I’m O’er Young to Marry Yet, and Naebody Comin’ to Marry Me on her 2011 CD Hilbert’s Hotel. She referred in her sleeve notes to those of the Battlefield Band above.

Anne Armstrong and Ron Kavana sang My Father’s a Hedger and Ditcher on Kavana’s 2011 album 40 Favourite Folk Songs.


Battlefield Band sing Seven Braw Gowns

I hae seven braw new gowns
Anither seven tae mak’.
But yet for all my braw gowns
My laddie has turned his back.
Besides I hae seven milking kye,
And Sandy has but three.
𝄆 But yet for a’ my good kye
The laddie winnae hae me. 𝄇

My daddy’s a delver o ’ the dyke,
My mother can card and spin.
And I’m a fine fit canty lass,
The siller comes clinking in,
The siller comes clinking in
And it’s fu’ grand tae see,
𝄆 Fifty times I’ve wondered
What ails the tads at me. 𝄇

Whenever our auld dog does bark.
Fast tae the door I rin
Tae see gin ony blythe young spark
Will light and venture in.
But sic a lad ne’er yet has come
Tho’ mony a ane gaes by.
𝄆 Far ben the hoose I rin,
A waeful wight am I. 𝄇

Seven braw new gowns I hae
Anither seven tae mak’,
But yet for all the gowns I hae
The laddies don’t want tae crack.
When I was first at my prayers
I prayed but once a year,
𝄆 I prayed for a handsome young man
A lad w i’ muckle gear. 𝄇

But now when I’m at my prayers
I pray both night and day,
And if a beggar man wid come
Wi’ him I would surely gae.
And oh what will come o’ me.
Whatever shall I do.
𝄆 In spite o’ a’ my braw gowns
There’s no one here tae woo. 𝄇

Silly Sisters sing Hedger and Ditcher

My father’s a hedger and ditcher
My mother does nothing but spin
They say I’m a pretty young girl
But the money comes slowly in

Oh dear, what shall become of me
Oh dear, what shall I do
There’s nobody coming to marry me
Nobody coming to woo

The doggie began to bark
And I looked out to see
I saw two young men out a-hunting
But nobody’s hunting for me


Oh, must I die an old maid
Oh dear, how shocking the thought
There’s nobody coming to marry me
Surely it’s not me own fault

My father’s a hedger and ditcher
My mother does nothing but spin
They say I’m a pretty young girl
But the money comes slowly in