It was one summer morning as I rambled o’er yon moss,
I had no thought of listin’ till a soldier did me cross;
He kindly did invite me to take a flowin’ bowl,
He advance`d, he advance`d, he advance`d, he advance`d,
He advanced me some money, a shillin’ from the crown.
’Tis true my love has listed and he wears a white cockade,
He is a handsome tall young man, likewise a roving blade,
He is a handsome young man and he’s gone to serve the king,
Oh my very, oh my very, oh my very, oh my very,
Oh my very heart is breaking all for the loss of him.
My love is tall and handsome and comely for to see,
And by some sad misfortune a soldier now is he;
May the very man that listed him not prosper night nor day,
And I wish that, and I wish that, and I wish that, and I wish that,
And I wish that the Hollanders would sink him in the sea.
Oh, may he never prosper and may he never thrive,
In everything he takes a hand as long as he’s alive;
May the very grass he treads upon the ground refuse to grow,
Since he has been the, since he has been the, since he has been the, since he has been the,
Since he has been the only cause of my sorrow, grief and woe.
Then he pulled out his handkerchief to wipe her flowin’ eyes,
Leave off those lamentations, likewise those mournful sighs,
And be you of good courage while I march o’er the plain,
We’ll be married, we’ll be married, we’ll be married, we’ll be married,
We’ll be married when I return again.
Oh, yes my love has listed and I for him will rove,
I’ll write his name on every tree that grows in yonder grove,
Where the huntsman he do holler and the hounds do sweetly cry,
To remind me, to remind me, to remind me, to remind me,
To remind me of me ploughboy until the day I die.
Recorded by Mark Ellison at Ray Black’s house in Harrogate, 28th January, 2007.
Accompanied by Ray Black, Mark Ellison and John Greaves. Roud 191
This is a traditional song
This broadside ballad probably dates from about 1750, though the original version is lost. Late eighteenth century versions vary considerably, more in fact than the few oral versions collected in the late nineteenth, early twentieth centuries. It could easily have originated in Scotland, England or Ireland, but apart from the odd Scottish fragment it only survives in oral tradition in England. Of the two earliest broadside versions that have survived, Angus of Newcastle’s 'The Blue Cockade' (Robert White Collection, Newcastle University Library, Ref 17.34) mentions ‘the Stravan’ which could be a contraction of Strathavon in Scotland; and Evans of London’s 1794 printing of 'The Light Blues' (Bodleian Ballads website, Curzon b15 (83)) is firmly set in Limerick, Ireland.
The colour of the cockade varies considerably. In early versions it is blue, but Evans’ version has black. The most common northern versions have white (like the unrelated Scots song of the same name), and orange, green and yellow occasionally feature.
Unlike many broadside ballads of the period it doesn’t appear to have been carried abroad from the British Isles, and in fact only survived in oral tradition in Yorkshire, Durham and the south coast counties.
Its inclusion in this collection is justified by its great popularity in the Yorkshire Dales, typified by a fine rendition by the Redmire singers on a Hudleston recording published on an EP c1960 (See Hudleston, Songs of the Ridings, 2001, p183). Similar versions from the same source exist in other collections such as that of Peter Kennedy. It was also popularized nationally in the latter half of the twentieth century by the Waterson Family of Hull, a similar version to the one performed here. (Another version drawn on by The Watersons is given in Kidson’s Traditional Tunes, 1891, p113) . No single version, other than modern collations, contains all of the seven stock stanzas. The Redmire version has the same four stanzas widely printed, with little variation, all over the north in the nineteenth century.