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The Wanton Wife of Castlegate

[ Roud V14112 ; EBBA 31004 ; trad.]

Mike Waterson sang The Wanton Wife of Castlegate in 1966 on the Watersons' album A Yorkshire Garland. Like most of the tracks from this LP, it was re-released in 1994 on the CD Early Days.

A.L. Lloyd said in the A Yorkshire Garland sleeve notes:

A saucy song, this one, originating in York probably in the early years of the seventeenth century, and published as a broadside by the London printers Milbourn and Thackeray in the 1670s. In the course of time, as commonly happens, generations of singers trimmed off many inessentials and improved the song while slightly roughening it. The come-all-ye style tune probably got attached early in the nineteenth century. It's of a kind hardly known before on this side of the Irish Channel.

Mike's niece Eliza Carthy sang The Wanton Wife of Castlegate in 1995 on her and Nancy Kerr's second album, Shape of Scrape too, followed by the tune Princess Royal. She commented in the record's sleeve notes:

The Wanton Wife of Castlegate is a squib that Mike Waterson put together and used to sing with The Watersons. Ta Uncle Mike. Princess Royal is a Cotswold Morris tune I know from a lifetime of visiting Bampton-in-the-Bush at Whitsuntide, but don't try to dance to it because you'll break your knees!

Nancy Kerr took it on again nearly two decades later and sang it with the Melrose Quartet on their 2013 CD Fifty Verses. They noted:

From the singing of the much missed Mike Waterson, a hero for all of us.

This video shows them at Chester Folk Festival in May 2016:

Lyrics

Mike Waterson sings The Wanton Wife of Castlegate

Oh there was a wife in Castlegate but I won't tell of her name,
For she is both brisk and buxom and she likes a fumbling game.
She can nip and she can trip, my boys, as she runs over the plain
Till she meets with the jolly boating man and she's off with him again.

Well he says, “My Molly Orney, and could you fancy me?
Come on up to my ship's cabin and contented we will be.
For I have got gold and silver and of you I will take care
And a whopping great pair of horns, my gal, your husband he shall wear.

“For your husband, he's a silly old fool and blind as blind can be
And so to wear the horns, my gal, contented he must be.
He can wriggle them at his leisure, he can do the best he can,
While his wife, she takes her pleasure with the jolly boating man.

“Well at Pomfret clock and tower, my gal, we've silver in great store
And I wish that I could find it, for then we'd have us a roar.
For we'd supper, wine and whisky, keep the beer and ale in store.
Here's to you me lads and lasses and to tipplers evermore!”

Eliza Carthy sings The Wanton Wife of Castlegate

Oh there was a wife in Castlegate but I won't tell of her name,
She is both brisk and buxom and she likes a tumbling game.
She can nip and she can trip, my boys, as she rides over the plain
Till she meets with the jolly boating man and she's off with him again.

Well he says, “My Molly Morney, and could you fancy me?
Come on up to my ship's cabin and contented we will be.
For I have got gold and silver and of you I will take care
But a whopping great pair of horns, my gal, your husband he will wear.

“For your husband, he's a silly old fool and blind as blind can be
And so to wear the horns, my love, contented he must be.
He can wriggle them at his leisure, he can do the best he can,
While his wife takes her pleasure with the jolly boating man.”

“Well at Pomfret clock and tower, my girl, we've silver in great store
And I wish that we could go there, 'cause there we'd have us a roar.
We'd sup on wine and whisky, keep the beer and ale in store.
Here's to you me lads and lasses and great tipplers evermore!”

The Melrose Quartet sings The Wanton Wife of Castlegate

There was a wife of Castlegate but I'll not tell of her name,
She is both brisk and buxom and she likes the fumbling game.
She can nip and she can trip me boys as she goes over the plain
'Til she meets with a jolly boating man and she's off with him again.

He says, “My Molly, honey, oh could you fancy me?
Come on up to my ship's cabin and contented we will be.
For I have got gold and silver and of you I will take care
And a whopping great pair of horns, my love, your husband he will wear.

“For your husband he's a silly old fool and he's blind as blind can be
And so to wear the horns, my love, contended he will be.
He can wiggle them at his leisure, he can do the best he can,
While his wife takes her pleasure with the jolly boating man.

“Well at Pomfret clock and tower, my love, there's silver in great store
And I wish that we could go there, for then we'd have us some more.
And we'll sup on wine and whisky, we'll have beer and ale in store.
Here's a health to lads and lasses and great tipplers evermore.”

Acknowledgements and links

Transcribed from the singing of Mike Waterson and Eliza Carthy by Garry Gillard

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: Wanton Wife of Castlegate.