“The Bonny Blue Handkerchief”


The singer meets a girl with a blue kerchief under her chin. She says that it is a local fashion. Entranced by her beauty, he offers her marriage and wealth. In some versions, she accepts; in others, she refuses; the handkerchief is a token from her love


In the first Sam Henry text, we are explicitly told that the two went to church. In the second, it's not made explicit, but the song ends after his proposal, so it sounds as if she agrees to marry. In the Murray broadside, she turns him down. Looking at the three, I thing the broadside text more likely to be original; the Henry texts are choppy, and the verse where she accepts appears an intrusion. - RBW


  • Murray, Mu23-y4:024, "Blue Handkerchief," unknown, 19C


  1. SHenry H161a+b, p. 456-457, "The Pretty Blue Handkerchief (I and II)" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  2. Roud #378
  3. BI, HHH161


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1892 (Baring-Gould/Sheppard)
Found in: Ireland Britain(Scotland)