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Rosie Anderson

[ Roud 2169 ; G/D 7:1462 ; Ballad Index Log392 ; Bodleian Roud 2169 ; trad.]

Dave Burland sang Rosie Anderson in 1971 on his Trailer album A Dalesman’s Litany.

June Tabor, accompanied by Huw Warren on piano, recorded Rosie Anderson in 1988 at the sessions for Silly Sisters’ second album No More to the Dance. It wasn’t issued on the original LP, though, only on the CD.

Martin Simpson played Rosie Anderson in 1989 on his album of acoustic guitar pieces, Leaves of Life. A live recording from the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, on 15 October 1994 was included two years later on his Beautiful Jo CD Live.

Smalltalk sang Rosie Anderson in 1994 on their Greentrax album Smalltalk. They noted:

Thomas Hay Marshall, successful Perth merchant, married Rosie Anderson, the sixteen year old daughter of another prominent local family, in 1792. Three years later, in May 1795, he instituted divorce proceedings against Rosie claiming in the court petition that while he had occasion to be away on business trips ‘she availed herself of such opportunities to form connections with other men”

Rosie appears to have had a preference for army officers, most notably the Earl of Elgin (of Elgin Marble fame), who had lodged in Charlotte Street, Perth, opposite Marshall’s house. In December 1803 Hay Marshall, by now Provost of Perth, finally won his divorce.

The tune is an adaption by Billy [Ross].

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman sang Rosie Anderson in 2003 on their album 2..

Cara recorded Rosie Anderson in 2006/07 for their second album, In Between Times. They noted:

Another sad story. Though it is not made clear in the original lyrics, we believe that Rosie only kissed Lord Elgin—nothing else! … and that the child indeed was of her husband. So she was innocent. We love tragedy!

Alasdair Roberts sang Rosie Anderson on his, Amble Skuse and David McGuinness’ 2018 CD What News. They noted:

Alasdair first heard this ballad on Yorkshireman Dave Burland’s 1971 LP A Dalesman’s Litany, although it is in fact a Scottish song, set in Perth and based on historical fact. It appears in Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads and there are thirteen versions of it in the Greig-Duncan Folksong Collection, vol 7, no. 1462, where a full historical account is given. Thomas Hay Marshall was a member of an eminent 18th-century Perth family and is generally credited with the building of Perth’s new town. It is said that Lord Elgin went on to become the British Ambassador at Constantinople and brought the Elgin Marbles to the British Museum.

Alasdair Roberts, Neil McDermott and Tartine de Clous also sang Rosie Anderson on their 2018 CD Au Cube.


June Tabor sings Rosie Anderson

Hay Marshall was a gentleman as ever lived on earth
And he courted Rosie Anderson, a lady into Perth
He courted her, he married her, made her his wedded wife
And on that day, I dare to say, he loved her as his life

There was an assembly into Perth and Rosie she was there
Lord Elgin danced with her that night, he did her heart ensnare
Lord Elgin danced with her that night and he conveyed her home
Hay Marshall he came running in before he set her down

“I’m all into surprise,” he said, “I’m all into surprise
To see you kiss my wedded wife before my very eyes”
“You need not be surprised,” he said, “nor need you think it odd
I but conveyed your lady home from the dangers by the road”

“Oh, had she not a maid,” he said, “or had she not a guide
Or had she not a candlelight, then of what was she afraid”
Young Betsy she was sent for, the truth for to face
“I would have brought my lady home, but Lord Elgin took my place”

“Although you be a lord,” he said, “And I but a provost’s son
I’ll make you smart for this, my lord, although you think it fun”
He’s taken his Rosie by the hand and led her through the room
Saying, “I’ll send you to fair London till all this fuss die down”

She had not been in fair London a month but barely nine
When word is come to Hay Marshall, his Rosie’s gotten a son
“Oh woe be to your roses red, that ever I loved you
To wander from your own true love and tread the bags of rue”

“My meat I cannot take,” he said, “My clothes I cannot wear
For thinking on Rosie Anderson that once I loved so dear”
Hay Marshall’s on to fair London with money in his purse
All for to get him witnesses, his Rosie to divorce

A lady from a window high were spying with a glass
And what did she see but a light grey gown rolling in the grass
Hay Marshall had twenty witnesses and Rosie had but two
“Woe is me,” cried Rosie Anderson, “Alas, what shall I do”

“But spring is coming on,” she said, “some regiment will be here
I’ll maybe get some officer, my broken heart to cheer”
Now Rosie’s got her an officer but he has proved untrue
And he has gone and left her a folly for to rue

“In bedlam I must lie my lay, in bedlam I must cry
In bedlam I must lie she says and in bedlam I must die
Come all ye ladies young and fair and a warning take by me
Never to leave your own husband or any that you see.”