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> June Tabor > Songs > The Fair Maid of Islington / Under the Greenwood Tree

A Maiden Came from London Town / Fair Maid of Islington

[ Roud 168 ; Bodleian Roud 168 ; trad.]

Jeannie Robertson sang A Maiden Come from London Town in 1960 on her Prestige album Scottish Ballads and Folk Songs.

Dave & Toni Arthur sang A Maiden Came from London Town in 1967 on their album Morning Stands on Tiptoe.

Shirley Collins sang Fair Maid of Islington in 1970 on her and her sister Dolly's album Love, Death & the Lady. She commented in the album's notes:

An 18th Century romp which I set to an older dance, Sellenger's Round—a robust and beautiful tune printed in Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book, arranged by William Byrd.

A recording of The Albion Dance Band with Shirley Collins performing Fair Maid of Islington live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1976 was published on The Guv'nor Vol 3, on Burning Bright: The Ashley Hutchings Story, and on Dancing Days Are Here Again.

Dolly Collins played the tune Sellenger's Round at her and Shirley's concert in Dublin in 1978. A recording of this concert was included twenty years later on their live CD Harking Back.

Cilla Fisher & Artie Trezise sang Fair Maid of London Town in 1979 on their Topic album Cilla & Artie.

June Tabor sang The Fair Maid of Islington followed by the tune Under the Greenwood Tree on her 1997 album, Aleyn. Her sleeve notes commented:

The Fair Maid of Islington, or, The London Vintner Over-Reached to the tune of Sellenger's Round or Caper and Ferk It, is a 17th century broadside much condensed in this version of 1744. Under the Greenwood Tree or O! How They Frisk It appears in the 6th edition of Playford's English Dancing Master of 1679.

Danny Spooner sang The Fair Maid of Islington on his 2013 CD Gorgeous, Game Girls. He noted:

This London song appears in a number of broadside collections and applauds the overthrow of an unscrupulous vintner by the quick witted girl. The tune is a variant of When a Man's in Love.

Lyrics

Shirley Collins sings Fair Maid of Islington

There was a fair maid of Islington as I have heard man tell
And she was a-going to London town her apples and pears to sell.
As she was a-going along the road a vintner did her spy.
“And what shall I give you, me lad, a night with you to lie?”

“If you would lie with me a night you must give to me five pounds.”
“A match, a match,” the vintner said, “and so let this go round.”
But when he'd lain with her all night her money she did crave,
“Oh no, oh no,” the vintner said, “the devil a penny you'll have!”

This maid she made no more ado but to the justice went.
“This vintner's hired a cellar of me and he will not pay the rent.”
And straight the justice for him sent and asked the reason why
That he would give this maid no rent to which he did reply:

“Although I hired a cellar of her and the possession was mine
I never put anything into it but one small pipe of wine.”
This fair maid being ripe of wit she straight replied again,
“There lay two oxes at the door why didn't you roll them in?”

The justice laughed and told the vintner if he a tenant be
He must expect to pay the purse; he couldn't sit rent free.
And when this maid her money got she put it in her purse
And clapped her hands on the cellar door and said it was none the worse.

June Tabor sings The Fair Maid of Islington

There was a fair maid of Islington as I've heard many tell
And she was going to London town her pears and apples to sell.
As she was going along the road a vintner did her espy.
“Oh, what shall I give, fair maid,” says he, “one night with you to lie?”

“If you would lay with me one night you must give to me five pounds.”
“A match, a match,” the vintner said, “so let this go round.”
When he had lain with her all night her money she did crave,
“No, oh no,” the vintner says, “the devil a penny you'll have!”

This maid she made no more ado but to the justice went.
“This vintner hired a cellar of me and he will not pay the rent.”
So straight the justice for him sent and asked him the reason why
That he would pay the maid no rent to which he did reply:

“Although I hired a cellar of her and the possession was mine
I never put anything into it but one small pipe of wine.”
This maid she being ripe of wit she straight replied again,
“There lay two butts at the cellar door why didn't you roll them in?”

The justice told the vintner plain if he a tenant be
He must expect to pay the rent; he could not sit rent free.
And when the maid her money got she put it all in her purse
And clapped her hand on the cellar door and said it was none the worse.