Kind friends, I’ve come before you now me happy lot to tell,
I’ll sing in praise of a charming girl with whom in love I fell.
She comes from out o’ Yorkshire, her name is Emily,
About as nice a buxom lass as ever you did see.
Her eyes are like the little stars that shine so bright above,
Her cheeks are like the red rose bush, with her I fell in love;
Her pearly teeth and golden hair, a lass I wouldn’t pass,
The pride of all the country is me bonny Yorkshire lass.
Her father keeps a little farm not many miles from here,
Amidst the flowers and roses I roam with Emily dear.
Her father, mother, sister, all with me agree,
But the pride of all the family is me own dear Emily.
To see her in the dairy to me seems quite a treat,
Her milking pails, her pots and pans, they look so trim and neat;
But the best of all amongst them and dearer far to me,
Is me pretty little Yorkshire lass, me own dear Emily.
Joined in the chorus by Ray Black, John Greaves and Mark Ellison. Recorded at Ray Black’s house in Harrogate.
This is a traditional song about Yorkshire, collected in Yorkshire.
Though a Music hall song c1873 sung by George Leybourne as My Pretty Yorkshire Lass, it has long been the unofficial anthem of the East Riding and its tune is used as one of the regimental marches of The Prince of Wales’s Own regiment of Yorkshire, sometimes called The East Yorkshire March-past. I had already recorded several versions of the chorus from Hull singers before I discovered my own grandmother, Annie Sykes, sang it. The words sung here are from a broadside printed by William Forth of Hull. Another fragmentary version appears under the title Bonny Emily in Nigel Hudleston’s Songs of the Ridings, Pindar, 2001, p71.
This rendition is dedicated to Emily Overington of Goole whose children and grand-children have been the mainstays of folk music in the Goole area for nearly 40 years.