> Martin Carthy > Songs > Peggy and the Soldier

Peggy and the Soldier

[ Roud 907 ; Laws P13 ; G/D 6:1129 ; Ballad Index LP13 ; Bodleian Roud 907 ; trad.]

Martin Carthy sang Peggy and the Soldier in 1966 on his Second Album. A live recording from the Hitchin Folk Club in September 1989 was included in 2011 on his Fellside album Walnut Creek. He commented in the first record's sleeve notes:

The unfaithful wife going off to sea with her lover and deserting husband and child is a common enough subject for ballads: witness the House Carpenter; but the clarity with regard to the state of mind of the characters, missing in many variations on the theme, is crystal clear throughout this particular one. It is uncommon in this form, having been reported from tradition only a couple of times and printed in the Journal of the Folk Song Society in 1930 (no. 34).

Shayna Karlin, Gordon McIntyre and Danny Spooner sang Peggy and the Soldier on the 1968 album Soldiers and Sailors (Folksingers of Australia Volume 2).

The Trugs sang Peggy and the Soldier on their 1971 Traditional Sound album And Boldly Go to Sea.. This track was also included in 2002 on the Fellside / Traditional Sound anthology Enlist for a Soldier.

Brian Dewhurst sang Peggy and the Soldier in 1977 on his Fellside album Follow That With Your Sea Lions.

Martin Simpson sang Peggy and the Soldier on his 2005 Topic album Kind Letters. He noted:

Peggy and the Soldier appears in one form only in the EFDSS journal. Carthy took it and married it to the tune, Lord Ellenwater. This required him to alter the scansion of the verses. He then asked Bert Lloyd for any verses he might know which miraculously appeared, fitting the scansion of Lord Ellenwater, suggesting that Bert had probably written them himself… Martin also recalls writing the odd verse. Ah, the folk process.

Peter Knight's Gigspanner sang Peggy and the Soldier on their 2017 CD The Wife of Urban Law.

Lyrics

Martin Carthy sings Peggy and the Soldier

Oh it's of an old soldier come from sea,
His musket all over his shoulder.
And it's on pretty Peggy he cast his eye,
And she cast her eye on the soldier.

Oh me gold, me silver, it shall be thine,
I'll give yez all the gold in me plunder,
If you'll leave all your land, leave your husband dear,
And you'll sail all o'er the sea with the soldier.

John, her husband, he mounted his high horse back,
Expecting for to meet her by the water,
But when he got there it was late in the day,
And she'd fled o'er the sea with the soldier.

But they hadn't been sailing a week or more,
When her love, oh, it turned to anger.
He beat her and he kicked her, he called her “whore,”
Sent her back to her John in the morning.

As Peggy walked up and as Peggy walked down,
People asked her where she was going.
She made not an answer, she couldn't tell where,
For she'd been o'er the sea with the soldier.

When Peggy got home, it was late in the night,
And she was ashamed to be seen.
It was under the window she listened a while
At her husband a-nursing the baby.

“Oh, rock-a-bye, little one, and don't you cry,
Your momma's gone and left you in sorrow.
And if she comes back, well, she can't stay here,
She can go back to sea with the soldier.”

“Oh, open the door, love, and let me in,
And I'll never prove false any longer.”
“You can go from me door, well, and leave me alone,
You can find you a home with your soldier.”

John, her husband, he mounted his high horse back,
He rode till he came to the water.
He abusèd the wind and the waters clear,
Sent Peggy over sea with the soldier.

He abusèd the man that builded the boat,
Abusèd the captain that sailed her.
He abusèd the wind and the waters clear,
Sent Peggy over sea with the soldier.

Acknowledgements

Transcribed by Garry Gillard and Reinhard Zierke with help from the Mudcat Café lyrics of this song