Andrew Poleson SA1974.07.05
This ballad enjoyed huge popularity not only in Britain but Canada and the USA also. Twenty-two versions appear in the Greig-Duncan Aberdeenshire collection alone, many with tunes very similar to Andrew’s tune and over 100 sources are listed by Steve Roud – no. 399 in his index.
With some helpful prompting from his friend Gracie Anderson, Andrew sang it, but in rather a halting and perfunctory manner for he didn’t feel much like singing: his brother had died a few days earlier.
I was brought up in Sheffield, though not of high degree,
My parents they adored me, they had no child but me;
I roved about for pleasure where’er my fancy lay,
Till I was bound apprentice, then all my joys they fled
I didn’t like my master, he didn’t use me well,
I took a resolution not long with him to dwell;
Unknown to my poor parents, from him I ran away,
I steered my course to London, and woe be on that day.
A handsome young lady from Holland was there
She offered me great wages to serve her for a year;
She offered me great wages to go across the sea,
To live with her to Holland, which proved my destiny.
I hadn’t been in Holland one week but two or three
When my proud mistress fell very fond of me;
She offered me great wages her money and her land,
If I would consent to marry her, and be at her command.
Said I, “Dear honoured lady, I cannot wed you both,
For I was lately promised, I swore a solemn oath
That I’ll wed none but Polly, your own dear chamber maid,
Forgive me, my dear mistress, she has my heart betrayed.”
She flew into a passion and from me she did run;
She vowed to be revenged on me before it was long;
She was so sore perplexed she couldn’t be my wife,
She soon found out a project to take away my life.
One day as I was walking all in the garden green,
The flowers they were springing, most beautiful to be seen,
A gold ring from her finger as she was passing by,
She slipped it in my pocket and for it I must die.
She swore that I had robbed her, and for that I was brought
Before an aged justice, to answer for my faults;
Long time I pleaded innocent; but all to no avail,
She swore, she swore against me, that I was set in jail.
But now alas th’assizes is coming on apace,
And when the grave old justice the sentence on me passed;
From the place of my confinement I was brought unto a tree;
Oh God reward my mistress, for she has ruined me.
All ye that stand around me, my dreadful fate to see,
Don’t glory in my downfall, but rather, pity me;
Believe me, I am innocent; I’ll bid this world adieu;
Farewell my lovely Polly, I died for loving you.