“The Maid and the Palmer”


A woman comes to a well, where she meets a man who asks of her a drink. She says she can offer him none because her leman/husband is away. The man tells her that she has no leman, and goes on to tell of her sins

Supplemental text

Maid and the Palmer, The [Child 21]
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***


From Furnivall, Bishop Percy's Folio Manuscript [Volume 4], Loose
and Humorous Songs, pp. 96-98. Text from page 461 of the Percy Folio.

The: maid, she went to the well to washe,
  Lillumwham, Lillumwham!
the mayd shee went to the well to washe,
  whatt then? what then?
the mayd shee went to the well to washe,
dew ffell of her lilly white fleshe;
  Grandam boy, Grandam boy, heye!
Leg a derry, Leg a merry, mett, mer, whoope, whir!
  driuance, larumben, Grandam boy, heye!

White[1] shee washee, & white[1] shee ronge,
  Lillumwham &c:
white[1] shee hangd o the hazle wand,
  Grandam boy, heye &c.

There cam an old Palmer by the way,
  Lillumwham &c.
sais, "god speed thee well thou faire maid!"
  Grandam boy, hey &c.

"Hast either Cupp or can --
  Lillumwham &c. --
to giue an old palmer drinke therin?"
  Grandam boy, heye &c.

sayes, "I haue neither cupp nor Cann --
  Lillumwham &c. --
to giue an old Palmer drinke therin."
  Grandam boy, heye &c.

"Bat an thy Lemman came from Roome,
  Lillumwham &c.,
Cupps & canns thou wold ffind soone."
  Grandam boy, heye &c.

She sware by god & good St. Iohn,
  Lillumwham &c.
Lemman had she neuer none;
  Grandam boy, heye &c.

Saies, "peace, ffaire mayd! you are fforsworne!
  Lillumwham &c.
Nine Children you haue borne;
  Grandam boy, heye &c.

"They[2] were buryed vnder thy beds head; --
  Lillumwham &c: --
other three vnder thy brewing leade;
  Grandam boy, hey &c.

Other three on won play greene,
  Lillumwham &c.
Count, maides, & there be 9."
  Grandam boy, hey &c.

"But I hope you are the good old man --
  Lillumwham &c. --
That all the world beleeues vpon;
  Grandam boy, hey &c.

"Old Palmer, I pray three, --
  Lillumwham &c. --
Pennaunce that thou wilt giue to me."
  Grandam boy, hey &c.

"Penance I can giue thee none, --
  Lillumwham &c. --
but 7 yeere to be a stepping stone;
  Grandam boy, hey &c.

"Other seauen a clapper in a bell, --
  Lillumwham &c. --
Other 7 to lead an ape in hell.
  Grandam boy, hey &c.

"When thou hast thy penance done,
  Lillumwham, Lillumwham,
when thou hast thy penance done,
  whatt then? what then?
when thou hast thy penance done,
then thoust come a mayden home."
  Grandam boy, Grandam boy, hey!
Leg a derry, Leg a merry, mett, mer, whoope, whirr!
  driuance, Larumben, Grandam boy, heye!

[1] White: This is the reading of Furnivall, based on the actual
    appearance of the manuscript; clearly "while" is meant.
[2] They: Read presumably "three"


For the story of Jesus and the Woman of Samaria, see John 4:5-26 - RBW

Cross references


  • John Reilly, "The Well Below the Valley" (on Voice03)


  1. Child 21, "The Maid and the Palmer" (2 texts)
  2. Bronson's (21 in addenda), "The Maid and the Palmer" (2 versions in addenda)
  3. Leach, pp. 106-107, "The Maid and the Palmer" (1 text)
  4. OBB 99, "The Maid and the Palmer" (1 text)
  5. PBB 3, "The Maid and the Palmer" (1 text)
  6. TBB 37, "The Maid and the Palmer" (1 text)
  7. Niles 15, "The Maid and the Palmer" (1 text, which Niles identifies with Child 21, but the fragment is so short that it could equally be part of Child 20)
  9. ST C021 (Full)
  10. Roud #2335
  11. BI, C021


Alternate titles: “The Samaritan Woman”; “The Well Below the Valley”; “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well (?)”; “Seven Years”
Author: unknown
Found in: Ireland