> Nic Jones > Songs > The Noble Lord Hawkins

The Noble Lord Hawkins / Sir Arthur

[ Roud 195 ; Laws O14 ; G/D 2:226 ; Ballad Index LO14 ; trad.]

Hedy West sang Polly on her 1965 Topic album Old Time and Hard Times. She and A.L. Lloyd commented in the sleeve notes:

“I’ve been told there were three rambling musicians who regularly came through Gilmer County. One was Lum Ledbetter who sang and played on ‘Ledbetter’s canes’, an instrument made by strapping two bamboo-like cane-flutes together. Another was Gus Wilson who played guitar and sang. The third was Jim Sparks who sang unaccompanied in a good tenor voice. He was my great-grand-mother’s younger brother. Like his parents he was a rambler, and considered irresponsible because he could never stay put. He followed his father in being a saddle- and boot-maker with a handlebar moustache. As recorded here, Polly is the fragment Grandma remembers of a song Jim Sparks sang.”

It is a British song, now rare in England. It was known in Dorset as Noble Lord Hawkins and in Northumberland as Sir Arthur and Charming Molly. During the eighteenth century it seems to have been a favourite broadside and chapbook piece under the title of Moll Boy’s Courtship. Scotland had its version too.

Nic Jones recorded The Noble Lord Hawkins in 1970 for his first album Ballads and Songs. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Noble Lord Hawkins may have been the result of another bout of name-adaption. He appears to have existed at one time as Sir Arthur in Sir Arthur and Charming Mollee, the story being more or less the same. Noble Lord Hawkins was collected by H.E.D. Hammond from Mr R. Barrett of Piddleton and it was printed in the Folk Song Journals where I found it.

Danny Spooner sang Noble Lord Hawkins on his 1986 album I Got This One From…. This track was also included in 2007 on his compilation Years of Spooner. He noted:

Arthur Phillips was a lighterman on the Thames when I was doing my apprenticeship. He was a very funny man with a wealth of songs and stories. He had been raised in the country and had a beautiful country accent; when he sang the Noble Lord Hawkins, the twinkle in his eye and the vibrancy of his performance always reminded me of Robert Newton's film performance as Long John Silver.

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman sang Sir Arthur in 2003 on their album 2..

Lyrics

Nic Jones sings The Noble Lord Hawkins Danny Spooner sings The Noble Lord Hawkins

As noble Lord Hawkins a-hunting did ride,
His horse and his gun and his sword by his side,
As he was a-riding he chanced to see
𝄆 A pretty young woman: her name was Polly. 𝄇

Oh the noble Lord Hawkins one morning did ride,
A hawk and a hound and a sword at his side.
As he was a-riding he chanced for to see
𝄆 A pretty young woman her name was Polly. 𝄇

“Oh Polly, oh Polly, my butler shall be
To pour out my wine and to wait upon me.
But to pour out my wine and to wait upon me,
𝄆 How does that take you my pretty Polly?” 𝄇

“Oh Polly, oh Polly, your fortune shall be
To pour out me wine and to wait upon me.
To pour out me wine and to wait upon me,
𝄆 Oh how would you like that me pretty Polly?” 𝄇

“Oh noble Lord Hawkins, don't talk so bold,
I'll not be your woman for silver or gold.
For I have a petticoat suits my degree
And I'll 𝄆 n'er have a married man till his wife dies.” 𝄇

“Oh noble Lord Hawkins now don’t be so bold,
I never would wed you for silver and gold,
For I have a petticoat to my degree,
And 𝄆 I’ll not wed a married man till his wife die.” 𝄇

“Then Polly, oh Polly, lend me your penknife
And I'll go right home and I'll kill my old wife.
Why I'll kill my old wife and her children three
And 𝄆 then will you love me, my pretty Polly?” 𝄇

“The Polly, oh Polly, lend me your penknife
And I will go home and I’ll kill me old wife,
I’ll kill me old wife and me children three,
𝄆 Then would you have me pretty Polly?” 𝄇

“Oh noble Lord Hawkins don't you say so,
But go to your wife and let nobody know.
Go to your wife and your children three
And 𝄆 seven long years I will tarry for thee.” 𝄇

“Oh noble Lord Hawkins now don’t you say so.
Go home to your wife and let nobody know.
Go home to your wife and your children three
And 𝄆 seven long years I will tarry for thee.” 𝄇

And these seven long years they were over and past,
The lady she goes and dies at last.
And the very same day the old lady did die,
𝄆 He went a-courting of pretty Polly. 𝄇

When seven long years they were over and passed,
His poor old wife she died at last.
The very same day that his old wife did die,
𝄆 He went a-courting of pretty Polly. 𝄇

And so now she's a nobleman's lady so high,
Along with young Hawkins she do ride.
And all you young ladies come following me
𝄆 Come to the wedding of pretty Polly. 𝄇
For six pretty maidens so neat and so trim
𝄆 Shall dance at my wedding on Monday morning 𝄇

And now she’s a nobleman’s lady so high,
Along with bold Hawkins she do ride.
So all ye young maidens that’s listened to me,
𝄆 Take heed of the fortune of pretty Polly. 𝄇
For six pretty maidens so neat and so trim
𝄆 Shall dance at her wedding on Monday morning. 𝄇

Acknowledgements

Song lyrics copied from Rid Smith's Traditional Music Library with adaptions to the actual singing of Nic Jones by Garry Gillard.