Robin Hood and the Pedlar

On Springthyme SPRCD 1043
Shepheard, Spiers & Watson: Over the High Hills

Arthur Watrson: A rare ballad (#132 in FJ Child's collection) that has, never-the-less, been found in the living tradition both in England and in Scotland in the last decades. This version is largely from the singing of Willie Robertson recorded by Hamish Henderson in Aberdeen in the 1950s. The ballad is one of a large cycle of Robin Hood ballads that excited enormous public interest after they were first compiled together from early broadsheets and manuscript collections and published in two small 8vo volumes by Joseph Ritson in 1795. (Child 132; Roud 333)

Arthur (lead vocal) with Pete (melodeon) and Tom (fiddle)

1: A pedlar busk and a pedlar thrum,
A pedlar he linked ower the lea;
There he spied two troublesome men,
Two troublesome men they proved tae be.

2: "Fit's in your pack ma pedlar man?
Fit's in your pack ma gey fellee?"
"There's seiven shirts, aye, and three cravats,
Likewise ma bowstrings two and three."

3: "If there's seiven shirts and three cravats,
Likewise yer bowstrings two and three;
It's by ma soul," cried Little John,
"The pack and aa will pass tae me."

4: Then the pedlar taen his pack doun aff his back,
He's set it low doun by his knee;
"If ye can fecht me three steps back,
Then the pack an aa will faa tae ye."

5: An Little John drew a guid broadsword,
The pedlar mannie he drew the same;
They swakkit swords till sair they swat,
Crying, "Pedlar man, noo haud your hand."

6: "Fit is yer name, ma pedlar man?
O fit is yer name ma gey fellee?"
"It's ne'er a word o ma name I'll tell,
Till baith yer names ye've tellt tae me."

7: "And the one of is bold Robin Hood,
The ither, Little John, sae free."
"It's noo ye've tellt me baith yer names,
Then ma name an ma place I'll tell tae ye."

8: "I'm Gammel Gold o the gey green wood,
I've traivelled far across the sea;
For killin a man in ma faither's land,
Fae ma faither's land I'm forced tae flee."

9: "If ye're Gammel Gold o the gey green wood,
That has traivelled far fae across the sea;
Then you an me's two sister's sons,
And fit closer cousins could we be?"

10: They sheathed their swords wi richt guid will,
And they hae spoke richt merrily;
Then tae the alehoose that stood close by,
Where they crackit bottles by two and by three.

c p 2012 Springthyme Records • Springthyme Music