“The Keys of Canterbury”


The young man comes to the girl and offers her his love or other gifts if she will marry him. She scornfully refuses. After several similar exchanges, he typically offers his MONEY. She accepts. He withdraws the offer: "You love my money but... not me"

Supplemental text

Keys of Canterbury, The
  Complete text(s)

I'll Give to You a Paper of Pins

From W. W. Newell, Games and Songs of American Children, item
#5 (first full text), p. 52. From an anonymous child in New York.

"I'll give to you a paper of pins,
And that's the way my love begins;
   If you will marry me, me, me,
   If you will marry me."

"I don't accept your paper of pins,
If that's the way your love begins;
   For I won't marry you, you, you,
   Foe I won't marry you."

"I'll give to you an easy chair,
To sit in and comb your golden hair.

"I'll give to you a silver spoon,
You feed your babe in the afternoon,

"I'll give to you a dress of green,
To make you look like any queen.

"I'll give to you the key of my heart,
For you to lock and never part.

"I'll give to you the key of my chest,
For you to have money at your request."

"I *do* accept the key of your chest,
For me to have money at my request;
   And I will marry you, you, you,
   And I will marry you."

"Ha, ha, ha, money is all,
And I won't marry you at all;
   For I won't marry you, you, you,
   For I won't marry you."


Yates, Musical Traditions site _Voice of the People suite_ "Notes - Volume 12" - 11.9.02: "Although versions of 'Will You Marry Me?' only appeared at the beginning of the 19th century ... it would seem certain that the song is based on an earlier pattern, namely the Elizabethan Stage Jig, a short dialogue song and dance performed by two or three characters." - BS

[In both of Sharp's versions], the lady accepts something and that's that. In "Keys of Canterbury" after rejecting various riches, she accepts a "broidered silken gownd," presumably a wedding gown, and the song ends there. In "My Man John", which also includes a servant who advises his master on how best to court the lady, she rejects all material things but accepts "the keys of my heart." - PJS

Although this certainly began as a true song, Linscott reports it as a singing game, adding "It was usually played by the girls alone, as it did not contain enough action for the boys." - RBW

Cross references


  • Linda Brown & Donnie Stewart, "Paper of Pins" (on JThomas01)
  • Johnny Doughty, "Will You Marry Me?" (on Voice12)
  • Bradley Kincaid, "A Paper of Pins" (Gennett 6856/Supertone 9402, 1929; on CrowTold02)
  • Ray Napier & Margaret Winters, "Keys of Canterbury" (on JThomas01)
  • Vass Family, "Paper of Pins" (Decca 5425, 1937)


  1. Belden, pp. 507-509, "A Paper of Pins" (3 texts)
  2. Randolph 354, "The Paper of Pins" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  3. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 293-295, "The Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 354A)
  4. Eddy 39, "The Keys of Heaven" (4 texts, 3 tunes)
  5. Gardner/Chickering 177, "A Paper of Pins" (1 text plus mention of 1 more)
  6. Flanders/Brown, pp. 160-161, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Linscott, pp. 20-23, "I'll Give to You a Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. BrownIII 1, "A Paper of Pins" (1 text plus 5 excerpts and mention of 7 more); 2, "Madam, Will You Walk" (1 text plus mention of 1 more)
  9. Hudson 131, pp. 276-277, ""Paper of Pins (1 text plus mention of 11 more)
  10. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 299-304, "A Paper of Pins" (4 texts, 2 tunes on pp. 435-436)
  11. Fuson, pp. 82-83, "The Lovers' Quarrel" (1 text); pp. 152-153, "I Will Give You a Red Dress" (1 text)
  12. Peacock, pp. 22-23, "A Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. SharpAp 92, "The Keys of Heaven" (6 texts, 6 tunes)
  14. Sharp-100E 66, "The Keys of Canterbury"; 67, "My Man John" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  15. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #286, pp. 166-167, "(Oh, madam, I will give you the keys of Canterbury)"
  16. Montgomerie-ScottishNR 88, "(I'll gie you a pennyworth o preens)" (1 text)
  17. Scott-BoA, pp. 11-13, "The Keys of Canterbury" (1 text, 1 tune)
  18. Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 262-263, "The Silver Pin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  19. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 323-324, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
  20. Kennedy 135, "Madam, Will You Walk" (1 text, 1 tune)
  21. LPound-ABS, 111, pp. 226-228, "Paper of Pins" (1 text)
  22. Silber-FSWB, p. 346, "Paper of Pins" (1 text)
  23. Fuld-WFM, p. 294, "I'll Give to You a Paper of Pins"
  25. ST R354 (Full)
  26. Roud #573
  27. BI, R354


Alternate titles: “Madam I Present You With Six Rows of Pins”; “Blue Muslin”; “I Will Give You The Keys of Heaven”; “If You Will Walk With Me”; “O Madam I Will Give to Thee”; “The Little Row of Pins”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1849 (Halliwell)
Found in: US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So) Britain(England(All),Scotland) Canada(Newf)