“Watercresses”

Alternate titles: “Watercrest”; “The Watercress Girl”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1886 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(4046))
Keywords: courting promise money love marriage rejection beauty humorous lover wife
Found in: Canada(Mar,Newf) US(So) Britain(England)

Description

The singer meets a damsel who has "a bunch of watercresses." She agrees to marry but "has some bills to pay" first, so he gives her money. Next day he get a letter that she's already someone's wife. "Sure you must have been greener than watercresses"

Supplemental text

Watercresses
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

The Dairy Farmer

From Louise Manny and James Reginald Wilson, Songs of Miramichi,
#63, pp. 226-227. From the singing of Joseph R. Estey, Sr.,
Sevogle, 1962.

Oh, I am a dairy farmer and from Dunstanshire I came
To see some friends in Cambridge Wells; Tim Morgan is my name.
In the little town of Dunstanshite, the place I do call home,
And if I get sent back again, from there I'll never roam.

It was then the pretty damsel she came coming down that way.
As long as I am living I shall ne'er forget the day.
She had a bunch of early onions and a half a pint of beer,
Some pickles, and a bunch of water cresses.

(Stanzas 1, 3 of 10)

Long description

Singer, a dairy farmer, goes to town, meets a pretty girl, asks the way to Camberwell and falls in love. He proposes, citing his farm and herds; she accepts, but tells him she will need money for wedding expenses. He gives her a sovereign; they kiss and part. She sends him a letter telling him that next time he proposes, he should be certain his intended is a maiden or a widow, not a wife, and promises to repay the sovereign, someday. Refr.: "She promised she would marry me upon the first of May/And she left me with a bunch of water cresses"

Notes

In [O. J. Abbott's version of] the song, the young man says he is from Belvishire. There is no such shire in England. On the other hand, Camberwell is a borough of London. - PJS

The Southwest Missouri State University site Max Hunter Folk Song Collection includes "Watercrest" ["T'was on the first of April When I arrived in town ..."], a version collected in Arkansas. In this one Mrs. Tray writes "But to think that I would marry you Upon the first of May You must think that I'm as green as watercrest's."

I don't consider this to be the same as the following ballad at Bodleian Library site Ballads Catalogue:

Bodleian, Harding B 11(4047), "The Water-Cress Girl" ("While strolling out one evening by a running stream"), unknown, n.d.; also Harding B 11(1233), "The Water-Cress Girl"

In this one the singer finds Martha gathering water-cresses, they "often strolled together," marry and live happily ever after. - BS

Cross references

Broadsides

Recordings

References

  1. Peacock, pp. 320-321, "Watercresses" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Leach-Labrador 66, "Water Creases" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Ives-NewBrunswick, pp. 106-108, "Watercresses" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Manny/Wilson 63, "The Dairy Farmer (Water Cresses)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. ST Peac320 (Partial)
  6. Roud #1653
  7. BI, Peac320