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When I was a servant in Rosemary Lane
I gained the goodwill of my master and dame,
Till at length a young sailor came there for to lie,
Which was the beginning of my misery.

He called for a candle to light him to bed,
He called for a napkin to tie round his head;
To tie round his head as he used for to do,
And he vowed and he swore I should come to bed too.

In the middle of the night this young man grew bold
And into my lap he threw handfuls of gold,
Saying: "Take this, my dear, and more you shall have.
I'll be a friend to you as long as I live."

So we tumbled and tossed by the light of the moon;
We rose the next morning all in the same tune.
The very next morning this young man arose
And dress himself out in his tarpaulin clothes.

"Alas," then I cried, "oh, I am undone.
He has left me with child of a daughter or son;
And if 'tis a girl she shall stay home with me,
And if 'tis a boy he shall plough on the sea."

"With his long-quartered shoes, check shirt and blue jacket,
On the quarterdeck he shall stand like a bold British tar;
So I'll dry up my milk as you shall plainly see,
And pass for a maid in my own country."

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Source: Palmer, Roy (ed),(1986),Oxford Book of Sea Songs,Oxford, OUP

ISBN 0-19-282155-5

Printed and sold by Jennings, No 13 Water Lane, Fleet Street, London, some time between 1809 and 1815. The tune was noted from Henry Burstow in 1893 by Lucy Broadwood.

Other songs in this group include Bell-Bottom Trousers; The Oak and the Ash; and Home Dearie Home.

Henry Burstow's tune appeared in The Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol. VI, issue 21, 1918, with just the one verse. Burstow lived in Horsham, Sussex, where he was a bell-ringer among other things. He published an autobiography, Reminiscences of Horsham, in 1911.

A copy of the Jennings broadside can be seen at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The servant of Rosemary lane Printed between 1790 and 1840 by J. Jennings, No. 13, Water-lane, Fleet- street, London. Johnson Ballads 624.

Other editions:

The lass that loved a sailor Printed between 1846 and 1852 at the "Poet's Box," and General Printing Office, Castle-court, Belfast. Harding B 26(347).

The servant of Rosemary lane Printed between 1819 and 1844 by J. Pitts, wholesale Toy and Marble warehouse 6, Great St. Andrew Street, Seven Dials [London]. Harding B 11(4221).

The servant of Rosemary lane Printed between 1860 and 1883 by H. Disley, 57, High Street, St. Giles [London]. Harding B 15(279a).

Home, dear home Printed between 1830 and 1910 by Sanderson, High Street, Edinburgh. Harding B 17(130a).

Roud: 269 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Laws: K43

Related Songs:  Rosemary Lane (thematic)

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z