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My name is Queen Mary, my age is sixteen,
My father's a farmer on yonder green;
He's plenty of money to dress me sae braw,
But there's nae bonnie laddie will tak' me awa'.

One morning I rose and I looked in the glass,
1 said to myself what a handsome young lass;
My hands on my sides, and I gave a ha-ha,
But there's nae bonnie laddie will tak' me awa'.

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Source: The Singing Game, Peter and Iona Opie, 1985,ISBN 0-19-284019-3

The tune printed by the Opies is from the "Journal of the EFDSS", June 1915 but no other reference was quoted. The original source was not provided in the Opie's book and has been replaced by the melody and lyrics from the EFDSS Journal quoted. This was sung by Liverpool girls at the Training Home, Southport, Lancashire, and collected by Annie Geddes Gilchrist.

The notes below were scanned from the book. Please contact dmcg if you notice any
mis-scans. As these notes are extensive, the end of the direct quotation is marked by a horizontal line
The Opies are discussing games played in a circle:

The circle sings the first verse with one player in the middle who chooses
someone from the circle, and dances round with her while the rest sing the
second verse. The first player then joins the circle, and the second player
becomes the chooser in the next round. Most early reports are from
Scotland and the north country, where the game was well established by
the turn of the century; but derivatives, or apparent derivatives, have been
current in the south since Edwardian days. In 1907 girls in the streets of
Soho sang as they skipped:

My name is sweet Dolly, my age twenty-three,
My father's a farmer over the Red Sea.
Got plenty of money to dress me in silk,
But no one to love me but Amy.

At Yarcombe, East Devon, in the early 1920s, when boys were still not
ashamed to play ring games, the circle sang:

Queen Mary, Queen Mary, my age is sixteen,
So come pretty Nancy and marry me quick.

The girl chosen came forward, took hold of the boy's hand, and they both
hopped round in the centre singing:

Hop, hop, hop, to the butcher's shop,
1 dare not stay any longer;
If I did my mother would say,
I'd been playing with the boys over yonder.

In Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, and north Somerset, after the
children had sung,

Queen Mary, Queen Mary, my age is sixteen,
My father's a farmer on yonder green,
He's plenty of money to dress me in silk
But nobody loves me but Gertie,

they continued with a scrap from 'Monday Night', but without
making further contribution to the sense:

Hey ho! Gertie oh,
She shall have a baby oh,
Wrap it up in calico,
Send it off to Jericho.

And in a version of the game played in the Quantock Hills by Ruth Tongue
in 1911, lines from 'Green Gravel' as also the tune, were

My name is Sweet Mary, my age is sixteen,
My father's a farmer on yonder green;
With plenty of money to wrap me up warm,
And plenty of barley to put in his barn.
0 Mary, 0 Mary, your true love is dead,
He sent you a letter to turn round your head.
1 loved him, I loved him, far more than my brother.
Well if you can't have him you'll soon get another.

In Scotland, however, the text verses have generally prevailed; and even
in England, for instance Harrogate, 1959, nine year olds were repeating
lines with little more difference than would be expected from their
Anglicization (e.g. 'a walk' for awa):

Queen Mary, Queen Mary, my age is sixteen,
My father's a farmer on yonder green;
He's plenty of money to clothe me in rich,
Till along comes a laddie to take me a walk.
1 rose up one morning and looked in the glass,
And I said to myself I'm a handsome young lass,
With my hands on my hips and a ha, ha, ha, ha,
Till along comes a laddie to take me a walk.

This transmission speaks well for the cadence of the lines, which evidently
belong to the end of the eighteenth century. They occur in a homely
composition said to have been written by a Thomas Scot of Falkirk in
honour of, or rather at the expense of, the daughter of a local farmer
named Russel or Russell. The verses, fifteen in number, as given in
Maidment's Scottish Ballads and Songs, begin:

My name it is jean, and my age is fifteen;
My father's a farmer, he lives on the plain,
Of money he's plenty, which makes me so bra'
Yet there's no bonny laddie will take me awa'.
Each morning I rise, and make myself clean,
With ruffles and ribbons, and everything fine,
With the finest hair cushions, and French curls twa,
Yet there's no bonny laddie will take me awa'.

And the tenth verse goes:

It's ten times a day I look in my glass,
And I think in my heart that I am a fine lass;
Then with a loud laughter I give a gaf-ha,
Saying, Will no bonny laddie come take me awa'.

These verses were presumably printed on a slip sheet at the time, and may
have entered oral tradition through adult singing. (Some of them, including
the first and tenth verses, were heard sung by a fisherman in
Newfoundland in 1929.) The tenth verse probably attracted children with
its gaf-ha. Indeed Maclagan in Argleshire (1901) particularly noted that
while the game was being played, 'the ring at one time stops for a sort of
laughing chorus'. The tune, according to Anne Gilchrist (Journal of
EFDSS, V, pp. 222-3), is a variant of the melody 'Bonny Dundee', earlier
known in Scotland as 'The Band at a Distance'. She adds that the
resemblance the game-tune has to the hymn tune 'Hail, Queen of Heaven,
the Ocean Star' is no coincidence. The musician Henri Hemy, who was
responsible for the hymn tune, adapted it from the singing of little girls at
play in the village of Stella, near Newcastle. This he published in his Easy
Music for Church Choirs, 1851, and by so doing supplied the earliest notice
of the game by more than forty years


Scotland: Golspie, 1892, 'And I laughed a ha ha! For some bonnie laddie Will take me awa' (Golspie, E. W. B. Nicholson pp. 132-4) ~ Eyemouth, Berwickshire, 1893 (Antiquary, M, p. 17) | Cullen, and elsewhere in north-east, 1898 played either in a ring or a row (Traditional Games, ii, pp. 10-14) ~ Loanhead and Lossiernouth, 1900 (Journal of EFDSS, v, p 221) | Tarry Croys, near Keith, c. 1900 | Games of Argyleshire, 1901, P. 85 | Lorn, 1905,'Sweet Mary, sweet Mary, my age is sixteen, My father's a farmer in sweet Aberdeen' (Folk-Lore, xvi, p.94) | Kirkcaldy, c. 1905, when a boy was in the middle he sang 'An this bonnic laddie 'I tak' her awa' ~ Since 1950: Edinburgh, 1951 (The Singing Street, Norton Park School, p. 5) ~ Golspie,1953.

England and Wales: Hexham, Northumberland, 1898 (Traditional Games, ii, pp. 102-3) | Belford, Northumberland, c. 1900 (County Folk-Lore, iv, p. 118) | North Shields, c. 1900, second verse 'Green peas and mutton pies' (Street Games, M. and R. King, P. 26) | Old Surrey Singing Game, A. E. Gillington, 1909, p. 5, 'My name is Sweet William' ~ Children's Singing Games, Cecil Sharp, v, 1912, pp. 8-11, two recordings 'Queen Mary' and 'Sweet Daisy' | Joyous Book Of Singing Games, John Homby, 1913, pp. 44-5, players stand in line | North and south of the Severn, 1920-5, eight recordings | Llanymynech ' Salop, 1925 | Amlwch, Anglesey, 1952, 'Queen Silvia, Queen Silvia Your age is sixteen, Your father's a king and Your mother's a queen, There's plenty, of money to dress you in silk. Your hair is long and your skirt is short, And your shoes are of meadow silver, A red cross here and a red cross there, And a ring to go round your finger' ~ Harrogate, 1959 ~ Rhos, Denbighshire, c. 1965.Cf, skipping: St Annes Soho Monthy, 1907, p 180 | London Street Games, 1916, p. 72, apparently for skipping.

Ireland: Dublin, 1975, 'Dear Anne, Dear Anne You're only sixteen' (All in! All in!, Ellis Brady pp.123-4) Game became popular in Dublin some five years before this.

Newfoundland: fisherman's song, Ballads and Songs of Newfoundland, E. B. Greenleaf and G.Mansfield, 1933, pp. 127-8

Two examples were given in the Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol.V issue 19, 1915, pp.221-3. The text from the Opies (which they seem to have epitomised from more than one source) doesn't correspond exactly to either. These are given, with ABC text, in the discussion thread.
In each case, one verse only was given.

Sharp collected versions in Somerset as Kitty is My Name, Miss Janey and My Name is Sweet Daisy; these are unpublished. There are several sets in the Greig-Duncan collection, and in Maud Gomme's Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland.

The apparent ancestral piece seems to have appeared on at least one broadside; there is one such in the Madden collection, entitled A Young Maid's Lamentation for the Want of a Husband, beginning, My name it's Jane, and my age is sixteen.... The song also survived outside the context of children's games; a set appears in Sam Henry's Songs of the People (Huntington and Herrmann, 1990). It came from Pat Hackett of Stone Row, Coleraine, in 1928.

Roud: 6281 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

Related Songs:  Nae Bonnie Laddie tae Tak' Me Awa' (thematic) Sweet Mary (thematic)

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