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Nellie the Milkmaid / Coming Home from the Wake

[ Roud 1606 ; Ballad Index RL169 ; Bodleian Roud 1606 ; trad.]

Shirley and Dolly Collins recorded Nellie the Milkmaid in 1969 for their album Anthems in Eden, next to another song about unwanted pregnancy, Gathering Rushes in the Month of May.


Shirley Collins sings Nellie the Milkmaid

Nellie was a milkmaid bonny, brisk and gay,
She always took delight with young Roger for to play.
One day she decided some pleasure for to take
And asked her missus leave for to go to the wake.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Nellie toraloo, Nellie toraloo,
Oh sweet lovely Nelly, to the wake she did go

“Oh Nelly,” said her missus, “I'd have you to take care
And of that young Roger I'd have you beware.
So Nellie, you may go but this promise you must make,
Don't frolic with young Roger coming home from the wake.”

So dressed in her best, young Nellie did repair
And as the expected young Roger he was there.
And they danced and they sang, they had beer, ale and cake,
And Nellie were the prettiest that they had at the wake.

The day being over, they homeward went their way,
Until they had come to the new cocks of hay.
And Roger kissed young Nell and her promise she did break,
She frolicked with young Roger coming home from the wake.

When seven months were over and nine being come,
Young Nellie was the mother of a fine lovely son.
“I will call it,” she said, “I will call it for his sake,
I'll call it young Roger coming home from the wake.”