As I went over London's Bridge,
'Twas early in the morning,
There I spied a pretty fair maid
Pleading for the life of Georgie.
"Go saddle me up my milk-white steeds
And bridle them so gaily,
That I may ride to the king castle town
And plead for the life of Georgie."
She rode all day and she rode all night
Till she was weak and weary;
While throwing back her fie yellow hair
She plead for the life of her Georgie."
She pulled from her pocket a purse of gold,
Saying, "Here is money a-plenty;
Lawyers, lawyers, fee yourselves
And spare me the life of Georgie."
Up stepped George then unto the lawyer,
Saying, "I have not murdered any,
But I stole sixteen of the king's white steeds
And sold them in Boheny."
Up stepped the lawyer then to George,
Saying, "George, I'm sorry for you,
But your own confesssion has condemned you to die,
May the Lord have mercy upon you."
George shall be hung with a golden cord,
Of such there is not many,
Because he came from a royal race
And courted a handsome lady.
I wish I was over on yon hillside
Where kisses are a-plenty,
With a sword and pistol by my side
I would fight for the life of Georgie.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: Ozark Folk Songs, Randolph, Ed Norm Cohen, ISBN 0-252-00952-2
Collected by Vance Randolph (28D) from Georgia Dunaway, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Jan 30, 1942
His notes follow:
The old ballad of "Georgie" or "Geordie" is well known on both sides of the Atlantic. Belden (1907), 319,
points out its derivation from an eighteenth century broadside, "The life and Death of George of Oxford" (child 209),
and Cox (1925), 135 gives numerous references to English texts. There is a comment on the use of a silken rope in Pepys's
Diary, Feb 27, 1663. American versions have been reported by Campbell and Sharp, Shoemaker (1919), 140; Pound(1915),11;
A. Richardson, 504; A. K. Davis (1929), 435-38, Randolph, OMF, pp 223-25;
Greenleaf and Mansfield, 40; L. Chappell, 37; Gardner and Chickering, 317; Belden (1940), 76-78; Brewster (1941), 170;
and the Brown Collection
The Digital Tradition at Mudcat also contains a version from Fowkes in "Folk Songs of Canada".
The Life and Death of George of Oxford was printed in the late 17th century, for P. Brooksby. Child prints it in his appendix to No.209, together with another, A lamentable new ditty, made upon the death of a worthy gentleman named George Stoole, dwelling sometime on Gate-side Moore, and sometime at New-Castle in Northumberland: with his penitent end. To a delicate Scottish tune. Neither is in the Bodleian Collection, but there are some 19th century examples:
The life of Georgey Printed between 1849 and 1862 by H. Such, 123, Union Street, Borough. Printer's Series: (80). Harding B 11(1797)
Death of Georgy Printed between 1820 and 1824 for W. Armstrong of Liverpool. Harding B 25(488)
Maid's lamentation for her Georgy Printed between 1819 and 1844 by Pitts, Wholesale Toy and Marble Warehouse, 6, St Andrew Street, Seven Dials [London] Harding B 11(2297)
Maiden's lamentation for her Georgy Printed between 1828 and 1829 by T. Birt, 10, Great St. Andrew Street Seven Dials, London. Harding B 16(137b)
A recording of this ballad is available at the Max Hunter site.
In Everyman's Book of English Country Songs (1979), Roy Palmer notes:
While some songs accurately reflect historical conditions and events, others are more concerned with factual truth. A ballad called 'Georgie' or 'Geordie', very widely known until recent times in both Britain and America, is really two separate narratives, albeit with a number of similarities, both in substance and in terminology. The Scottish ballad tells of Geordie's being saved from the scaffold in Edinburgh on the payment by his wife of a ransom. It is said to refer to George, Earl of Huntly, who, after failing on a mission for the Queen Regent of Scotland in 1554, was imprisoned and subjected to the forfeiture of his estates, but afterwards restored to favour.
The English variety also tells of a wife's travelling on an errand of mercy, this time to Newcastle. However, her intercession fails, and her husband is executed. George Stoole, alias Skelton, alias Stowell, who is said to have inspired this ballad, was executed at Newcastle in 1610 for stealing horses and cattle. Street ballads on the event appeared almost immediately afterwards, passed into oral circulation, and continued to be sung for some three centuries.
Roud: 90 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Related Songs: Geordie (easily confused with)