> Shirley Collins > Songs > Mistress’s Health / Lumps of Plum Pudding / Spaniards Cry / Sherborne Jig
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Mistress’s Health / Lumps of Plum Pudding / Spaniards Cry / Sherborne Jig

[ Roud 21096 ; Ballad Index BrMa141 ; trad.]

Mistress’s Health and Spaniards Cry are two harvest-home toasts. Shirley Collins sang both of them on her 1974 Topic album, Adieu to Old England, each accompanied by a Morris jig. She also performed these toasts and jigs with the Etchingham Steam Band; a recording of them can be found on her anthology A Favourite Garland, on the Ashley Hutchings anthology The Guv’nor Vol 4, and on The Fairport Companion: Loose Chippings From the Fairport Convention Family Tree. A.L. Lloyd commented in the first recording’s sleeve notes:

This isn’t merely a bit of Tudoriana. [Mistress’s Health] is a harvest-home toast. Harvest-homes were ceremonial suppers, given by the farmer to the harvest labourers when the crop was gathered. The custom has been widespread all over Europe, at least since the Middle Ages, maybe longer. It’s an occasion for big eating and drinking and plenty of music; but very ceremonious, and an important feature was the singing of elaborate compliments in the form of toasts. At the harvest-homes in England, right up to the present century, the queenly qualities of the farmer’s wife were commonly extolled (“anything for another mug of ale” was a comment reported by a 19th century observer). This toast, doubtless referring to Elizabeth I, was traditionally applied to the farmer’s wife in many parts of Southern England. The Cuckfield baker Samuel Willett noted it from harvest hands and passed it on to Lucy Broadwood. The toast is coupled with a Bledington Morris jig.

[Spaniards Cry is] another harvest-home “health” tune from Samuel Willett. The accompanying Morris tune is from Sherborne, Gloucestershire, not Sherborne, Dorset.

The Wilson Family sang another Mistress’ Health (Roud 310), this Mistress’s Health and Spaniards’s Cry in 1991 on their Harbourtown album The Wilson Family Album.

Andy Turner learned Our Mistress’s Health from Shirley Collins’ album and Now Harvest is Over (Roud 310) from The Tale of Ale. He sang both healths as the 4 October 2014 entry of his blog A Folk Song a Week.

See also Mistress’ Health (Roud 310).


Shirley Collins sings Mistress’s Health

Our Mistress’s health we’ll now begin,
In spite of the Pope and the Spanish King.
For she has got gold and silver in store
And when it is gone she will have some more.

So here’s to thee, my brother John,
’Tis almost time that we were gone.
We’ll smoke, we’ll drink, we’ll stand aground,
And so let the Mistress’s health go round.

Shirley Collins sings Spaniards Cry

This is our Mistress’ health merrily singing,
Bonfires in every town and all the bells ringing.
How now the Spaniards cry, bullets are flying,
And then away they run for fear of dying.

Now we will drift to the merry brisk fountain,
Toast our brave seamen for the Spaniards’ a-routing.
We’ll drink the ocean dry, sack and canary,
This is our Mistress’ health, drink and be merry.