Old Browns Daughter


This is one of those Music Hall/ folk song crossovers and Jon says, “Ultimately this is from Bellamy although I first heard it sung by Damien Barber on the Voices album. It’s very sentimental but there’s also something quite believable about it.” This certainly has a modern slant to it and I note from this Wiki page that the author is G.W. Hunt circa 1878, with the suggestion that it was absorbed into the folk tradition of Newfoundland. Mainly Norfolk shows that Bellamy credits Walter Pardon from the Norfolk village of Knapton as his source, as it was part of his family repertoire.
You can buy the January digital album now from all good download stores.


24 Responses to “Old Browns Daughter”

  1. John Monk says:

    Very Nice Too.

  2. Muzza(s.e.England) says:

    Great little song……..The surname Brown does seem to produce a rash of lovely daughters…….as seen in the 1965 accolade written by Trevor Peacock(the old boy who was in the Vicar of Dibley and said..”No,No,No,No,-Yes!” )http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUyTDUyaIss

  3. Joe Offer says:

    We have the lyrics for this song in the Digital Tradition Folk Song Database, and there’s a nice thread on the song here:

    I’m not convinced that we have definitive information about the authorship of this song.

    -Joe offer-

  4. Sol says:

    Eh, it would hardly be the first time a 19th century “composition” got absorbed into the Newfoundland tradition. But it does seem a bit odd that it is widely believed to be one of Johnny Burke’s lyrics. (I can’t find our copy of the Burke songbook at the moment to check up on what it says there.)

    Certainly I prefer the Burke / Hynes version to this one. Someone on the Mudcat thread mentions a Ron Hynes / Jim Payne recording, I presume they mean the version on the album “All the Best”, which also features the legendary John White, with all three singers trading off the lead.

  5. Sol says:

    Finally dug up the songbook, and while it indeed has “Old Brown’s Daughter”, it has no additional information on the song. It does note, “… in specific cases it is often difficult to demonstrate that a particular song was written by Burke.” A lot of the material was published without attribution. So nothing definitive on that front.

    Despite what the Mudcat thread implies, if the circa 1878 date is correct, Burke (1851-1930) certainly could have written the song.

  6. Jane Ramsden says:

    I got this reference from the Music Hall and Theatre History Website – arthurlloyd.co.uk – which lists all songs composed by G. W. Hunt:


    Its pointer to SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online) gives credibility to him being the composer of ‘Old Brown’s Daughter’:


  7. Jane Ramsden says:

    And if I’d followed the Mudcat link all the way through first off, I’d have seen it does mention the same sources I found! Hahahahaha!

  8. Dainer says:

    A Music Hall song definitely and sentimental but none the worse for that. Again nicely sung.

    Muzza carrying on from the previous song’s message to you, you were correct about a certain person’s comments about the chat. Why bother to read them if she feels like that. As for Jon’s music – she should get hold of his solo CD’s “Painted Lady” and “Songs from the Floodplain” – such diversity and all musical accompaniment supplied by JP – such talent.

  9. Adain says:

    Was up early and browsing but saw that someone was already hard at work.

    The JP above should read JB – very sorry!

  10. Dainer says:

    Hi Mike – glad you were not killed by King George but watch it, 6 – 7 pubs is a lot of temptation. Quite entertaining your interview. Glad I was able to locate it.

  11. Simon says:

    Happy new year one and all… I’ve just been catching up with all the fun over Christmas and hope you’ll excuse me for not joining you, but a year and a half into the project I decided to take a proper Christmas break and didn’t work at all, trying not to even think about it. I feel refreshed and am glad that I could leave you all to dig and delve on your own. I’ve realised that I haven’t been checking the links to make sure they are still active, but apart for the Cornish Wassail, we seem to have mostly got away with it. I still appreciate the extras that are turning up, especially from Jane who continues to find diamonds in the rubble. It’s also good to see Phil, Muzza and others having a sing and dance too… Anyway, for those who are here for the first time (and indeed those who aren’t), there are still some cracking songs to come… Enjoy!

  12. Adain says:

    Reynard, I have just been watching a programme on TV called “Natures Weirdest Events” and it was talking about a pond on the outskirts of Hamburg where in 2005 there was hugh amount of “exploding” toads. This was finally discovered to be caused by ravens attacking the toads and pecking their livers out. Strange don’t you think? Perhaps this isn’t news to you.

  13. Reynard says:

    I’m glad that none of yesterday’s (Daddy) Foxes were the culprits, just a few corbies who needed a change of diet from their usual canned knights.

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    Thanks, Skyman. Methinks I must just have a lotta rubble to sift through in life! Hahahaha!

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    Lovely. And I finally got the music hall/folksong crossover. Thankyou, Jon!

    I may have mentioned before, but a seemingly unlikely author of a book on music hall days is former PM John Major. It can be found at this Amazon link:


    The introducTORY blurb reads:

    “Former prime minister John Major takes a remarkable journey into his own unconventional family past to tell the richly-colourful story of the British music hall.

    Music hall was one of the glories of Victorian England. Sentimental, vulgar, but patriotic and champion of the underdog, it held a mirror to the audiences’ hopes, fears and the general absurdity of life.

    Vast, smoke-filled auditoriums were packed every night throughout Britain. Popular performers, such as Marie Lloyd and Vesta Tilley, were among the highest-paid and most celebrated figures in the land.

    This was the world that John Major’s father Tom entered at the age of twenty-one as a comedian and singer. In ‘My Old Man’, the former prime minister tells his father’s story as a springboard for an entertaining history of the music hall, from its origins in Elizabethan times through to its heyday in the nineteenth century and eventual decline with the rise of radio and cinema in the twentieth century.

    Packed with colourful anecdotes, this warm-hearted account captures a golden, bygone age of entertainment.”

    I think it might be worth a read, enough to make me set aside the author’s political leanings. I’m big enough…. no response required! Hahahahahahahaha!

  16. Jane Ramsden says:

    And speaking of books, I did not know until today that Mike Harding has produced a series of historical folklore ‘little books’ described on Amazon (in 2008) thus:

    “Mike Harding’s first four Little Books for Aurum, published nine years ago – Gargoyles (9781854105615), Green Men (9781854105639), Misericords (9781854105622) and Stained Glass (9781854105646) – have each sold between 20,000 and 30,000 copies and been reprinted numerous times. Now at last, as Aurum also re-jackets and re-launches these original books, Mike Harding publishes four new titles, with a stunning new cover treatment. The first, Angels, features Harding’s own superb colour photographs of angels in stained-glass windows, alabaster statues and painted ceilings in churches and chapels all over Britain, as well as locations further afield, such as San Raphael in Venice. They range from remarkable mediaeval art like the lute-playing angels at Cawston in Suffolk, through Victorian angels by William Morris in Derbyshire, to modern stained-glass angels by the great glassmaker Harry Clarke at Sturminster Newton in Dorset. As with all Mike Harding’s Little Books, this is a beautiful little gift book as well as an erudite monograph, at a superbly competitive impulse-buy price. Mike Harding is a comedian and radio broadcaster who has a weekly show on Radio 2 on folk music and presents the annual British Folk Awards. He lives in West Yorkshire.”

    The other 3 books are about Tombs & Monuments, Devils and Demons, and Miracles & Marvels. See listings here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_12?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=mike+harding+little+book&sprefix=mike+harding%2Cstripbooks%2C294#/ref=sr_pg_1?rh=n%3A266239%2Ck%3Amike+harding+little+book&keywords=mike+harding+little+book&ie=UTF8&qid=1357186060

    Well, of course, Mike was THE folk presenter on Radio 2, as we all know, until the Beeb recently (and indecently) decided otherwise. I think the out-and-aboutness of his Little Books gives the lie to one aspect of the Beeb’s decision (so far as I heard) that they thought he might not want to be less studio-based. They should have checked out their assumption though.

    However, like a phoenix from the flames, Mike Harding now has his own weekly podcast programme ‘from t’garden shed.’ You can access the first and forthcoming broadcasts via this link:


    You can also follow Mike on Facebook. Indeed, the assisting ‘umpa lumpas in’t shed’ would be very pleased if more people ‘liked’ Mike’s page so they can get let out for the weekend! I think the podcast is going to be a success. I haven’t heard the first one myself yet for the following reason:

    “Please pass this on if so-minded. 27,000 people hit the site in the first seconds of streaming, causing it to crash. Working on it now – streaming up and intermittent – so sorry. I bought massive bandwidth and it should have stood even this – in theory – but then again, the Titanic was unsinkable. Anybody know where the lifeboats are?” – Mike.

    50 sheds of grey it certainly won’t be, so sign up! Lol.

  17. Jane Ramsden says:

    Footnote: Rats! My ‘second squeak’ on here today requires moderation! I know you won’t want to miss any gem of mine, so I’ve contacted Skyman. Y’all come back now, you hear! Hahahaha!

  18. Diana says:

    Naught, naughty Jane – goodness knows what you put to get the moderator to not let you publish. Mind you I think it is only a machine so you will get the better of it!

    Still a good song though.

  19. meggan says:

    l loved this gentle song and jons voice suits it so well

  20. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Diana: Must have been the mention of 50 ‘sheds’ of grey… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  21. Jane Ramsden says:

    Obviously not! It’s the web links do it every time, but I only put 2 in!

  22. Diana says:

    @ Jane: Glad to see you managed to sneak pass the moderator. It is the Sheds that do it every time!

  23. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Strange that I was not tempted, on the first run of this song, to note that my ex-wife’s maiden name was BROWN !..yup she galvanised me all right………bit disappointed that I missed out on the dowry of jaw’s harps and bubble gum.

  24. Old Muzza (NW Surrey UK) says:

    Ah………brings it all back………those Brown girls are heartbreakers !

Your Reply

Warning: Undefined variable $user_ID in /customers/a/0/f/afolksongaday.com/httpd.www/wp-content/themes/comment-central/comments.php on line 121