William Taylor

I’ll sing you a song of two young lovers
Down from Lichfield town they came
And the young man’s name was William Taylor
Sarah Gray was the maiden’s name

William Taylor he has enlisted
For a soldier he has gone
And he’s gone and he’s left his own true lover
For to sigh and for to mourn

And Sally’s parents they have abused her
Filled her heart with grief and woe
And for to seek William Taylor
For a soldier she would go

She’s dressed herself in man’s apparel
Man’s apparel she’s put on
And for to seek young William Taylor
For a soldier she has gone

One day as she was exercising
Exercising one two three
A silver chain fell down from her waistcoat
And exposed her lilywhite breast

The sergeant he stepped up to her
And asked the young lady what brings you here
I come in search of William Taylor
Who was pressed from me last year

Oh if you come in search of William Taylor
William Taylor he’s not here
For I do hear that he’s to married
To some lovely lady so fare

And if you rise early in the morning
Early at the break of day
It’s there you’ll see young William Taylor
Walking out with a lady so gay

So she’s rosed early in the morning
Early at the break of day
And there she’s spied William Taylor
Walking out with a lady so gay

So she’s rosed early in the morning
Early at the break of day
And there she’s spied William Taylor
Walking out with a lady so gay

And she has called for a brace of pistols
A brace of pistols was brought to her hand
And she shot William Taylor
With his bride at his right hand

It’s the old, old story: boy meets girl, boy joins the army, girl dresses as a man and follows him, girl’s tits fall out as she’s doing press-ups, boy goes for early morning stroll with new bride, girl gets hold of two guns without much difficulty and blows them both away.

Most singers describe Sarah as the heroine and William as the villain. But hang on: it’s Sarah who is the double-murderer here, with one of her victims someone she never even met. Why did William leave Sarah in the first place? Might he have detected latent bunny-boiling, psychopathic tendencies?

The song is known in several versions – different titles, words and tunes – and this one comes mostly from a Lincolnshire man called Joseph Taylor. In 1908, the Australian composer Percy Grainger recorded Mr Taylor (who titled it Bold William Taylor) singing the song.

 

The Jones Boys play highly accomplished traditional music from Ireland, England, Scotland, Brittany, Sweden, Bulgaria …

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