The Isle of Cloy
[ Roud 23272 ; trad.]
E.J. Moeran collected The Isle of Cloy in the 1930s in Suffolk from George Hill and Oliver Waspe. A.L. Lloyd sang this song in 1956 on his Tradition album The Foggy Dew and Other Traditional English Love Songs. He commented in the liner notes:
The 18th century was an age of country idyll in England. Science was making fields more fertile, stock more stout than ever before. Stubbs was painting his fat farmers on fat horses. An air of prosperity blew over the acres. And perhaps the labourers began to dream of getting some of the prosperity for themselves, for instance by marrying the squire's daughter. Whatever the reason, the story of the servant boy shanghaied to sea by the sweetheart's rich parents came to be the common theme of 18th century folksong. The Isle of Troy, a song from the east coast of England, offers an unusually dramatic denouement, with the bereft girl hanging from a beam in the cruel father's bedroom.
A.L. Lloyd sings The Isle of Cloy
It's of a young lady in the Isle of Cloy,
She fell in love with her serving boy.
So soon as her parents came to hear,
They separated her from her dear.
So to disgrace her whole family,
They sent this young boy away to sea
On board the Tiger, a man-of-war,
To act his part of a poor sailor.
This young man hadn't long been on the main
Before a cruel fight began.
And it was his sad luck to fall —
He was struck dead by a cannon ball.
The very same night this young man was slain
Close to her father's bedside she came.
All weeping sore for her own true love
She hanged herself from the beam above.
Her father's servants they stood around;
They viewed this lady and they cut her down;
And in her bosom a note unsealed:
A girl of sorrow it revealed.
“My father is one of the best of men,
But he drove me to this disgraceful end.
Of this vain world pray a warning take:
I died a maid for my true love's sake.”