> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Young Roger Esq.

Young Roger Esquire / The Grey Mare

[ Roud 680 ; Laws P8 ; G/D 4:761 ; Henry H90 ; Ballad Index LP08 ; trad.]

Phil Tanner sang Young Roger Esquire on a BBC recording made on May 20, 1949 at Penmaen. It was included in 1968 on his eponymous EFDSS album, Phil Tanner, in 2003 on his Veteran anthology CD The Gower Nightingale and in 1998 on the EFSSS anthology A Century of Songs. Roy Palmet noted in the Veteran booklet:

With the alternative titles of Young Roger and the Grey Mare, or simply the last three words alone, this sunny, lighthearted song was popular with broadside printers and singers alike. Judging by the apparent absence of a prior record, it seems to have been written early in the nineteenth century.

Peter Bellamy sang Young Roger Esq. unaccompanied on his second LP, Fair England's Shore (1969). A live recording from 1980 from Sydney Opera House was included on his privately distributed double cassette An Anthology of Traditional Folk Songs 1966-1990 and on the Free Reed anthologies Wake the Vaulted Echoes and The Ballads of Peter Bellamy. Peter Bellamy commented in the original album's liner notes:

Young Roger Esq. is an unusual song which I learned from a recording of the great Gowan singer, Phil Tanner—does that make it a Welsh song? Either way it is an out of the way sort of a tune, and the “punch line” of the story has a rare, sharp humour. There is a last verse to the song, which I have omitted, because I feel that it detracts sadly from the impact of the image of the “young man who come a-courting Father's grey mare”.

Ollie Conway sang The Grey Mare on the 1978 Topic anthology of songs from County Clare, The Lambs on the Green Hills. Roly Brown noted:

Again, this song is familiar enough in England. Baring-Gould and Kidson both have versions as has Purslow in Marrow Bones, p. 40. Ollie got his version from Josie Baker of Cahermurphy near Kilmihil. He heard it too in the Breen household at Kilmihil where he was a frequent visitor. As a child he’d set off or the dairy with ass and cart only to fetch up inevitably in Katie Breen’s kitchen where he would pass away the time listening or, sometimes, playing flute with the late Paddy Breen. Inevitably, too, Ollie would get into trouble at home for this.

Roy Harris sang Young Roger Esq in 1985 on his Fellside album Utter Simplicity.

Faustus sang The Grey Mare on their 2005 Fellside CD Wager.

Jon Boden sang Young Roger Esquire as the June 26, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in his blog:

A real Bellamy tour-de-force of which this is a pale imitation. Fantastic song though.

Sarah Morgan sang The Grey Mare in 2012 on her live Forest Tracks album with Jeff Gillett, The Flowers and the Wine.


Peter Bellamy sings Young Roger Esquire

Young Roger Esquire came a-courting of late,
To a rich farmer's daughter named beautiful Kate;
And she for her fortune had five thousand pound,
With rich rings and jewels, with rich rings and jewels,
And a piece of fine ground.

Now the day being appointed and the money laid down
It was not that a fine fortune of five thousand pound.
So young Roger he swore by his curly long hair,
“I will not wed your daughter, I will not wed your daughter
Without the grey mare.”

Then up spoke her father and thus say-ed he,
“I thought that you lov-ed my daughter indeed.
But as I do have her thus far in my care
You shall not have my daughter, you shall not have my daughter
Nor yet the grey mare.”

So twelve months being over and a little above
Young Roger Esquire met Katie his love
Saying, “Katie, loving Katie, O don't you know me?”
“Such a man of your likeness I chanced for to see,
Such a man of your likeness with curly long hair
He once came a-courting, he once came a-courting
My father's grey mare.”


See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: Roger the Miller and the Grey Mare.