Peggy Bann


Jon says, “Here’s one of the least sympathetic narrators in folksong, but a great tune.” Bellamy called this Peggy Bawn and with all of the crossover with Molly Bawn or even Polly Vaughan as an interchangeable name, it makes it hard to come up with anything much on this.  Mainly Norfolk at least covers the Bellamy angle and again notes the source as Walter Pardon, who apparently tried to claim a copyright. Strange! It seems to have an obvious Irish/Scottish location to it, so how it ended up in Norfolk is another point of conjecture. Perhaps those with the knowledge or simply the patience to pick through the red herrings and dead ends can offer a little enlightenment.
You can buy the January digital album now from all good download stores.


12 Responses to “Peggy Bann”

  1. muzza (s.e.England) says:

    I enjoyed this………..great little melody and well sung (do I need to keep saying that!) Just shows that King’s messengers have the same loose morals as sailors and ploughboys!….and, unfortunately the ladies of today still fall for a wrong’un.

  2. Tim Radford says:

    Hi There Jon,

    There is a version of the song – called – Peggy Band, in the John Clare manuscript. I first heard it sung by a band called Rough Music in the mid 70’s, sung by the sadly no longer with us, Richard Valintine of the Old Swan Band.
    The words are different, but follow the same story.

    O it was a lorn and a dismal night,
    And the storm beat loud and high; 

    Not a friendly light to guide me right 

    Was there shining in the sky, 

    When a lonely hut my wanderings met, 

    Lost in a foreign land, 

    And I found the dearest friend as yet 

    In my lovely Peggy Band.

    “O, father, here’s a soldier lad, 

    And weary he seems to be.” 

    “Then welcome in,” the old man said, 

    And she gave her seat to me. 

    The fire she trimmed, and my clothes she dried 

    With her own sweet lily hand, 

    And o’er the soldier’s lot she sighed, 

    While I blest my Peggy Band.

    When I told the tale of my wandering years, 

    And the nights unknown to sleep, 

    She made excuse to hide her tears, 

    And she stole away to weep. 

    A pilgrim’s blessing I seemed to share, 

    As saints of the Holy Land, 

    And I thought her a guardian angel there, 

    Though he called her his Peggy Band.

    The night it passed, and the hour to part 

    With the morning winged away, 

    And I felt an anguish at my heart 

    That vainly bid to stay. 

    I thanked the old man for all he did, 

    And I took his daughter’s hand, 

    But my heart was full, and I could not bid 

    Farewell to my Peggy Band.

    A blessing on that friendly cot, 

    Where the soldier found repose, 

    And a blessing be her constant lot 

    Who soothed the stranger’s woes. 

    I turned a last look at the door, 

    As she held it in her hand, 

    And my heart ached sore, as I crossed the moor, 

    For to leave my Peggy Band.

  3. Tim Radford says:

    After further research, it appears to be ROUD No. 661, and there are many Broadside versions listed in the Road directory, but few collected traditionally. Some versions in the South of England. See the EFDSS Online version & the Take 6 archive.

    Tim Radford

  4. Adain says:

    Another good song and tune – always surprised by how many versions of these songs there are.

    Must be rather dim this morning but did not understand the reference to “canned knights”!!!

  5. Adain says:

    Carrying on from above, I do realise that knights were encased in suits of armour and perhaps their heraldry included a corbie on their shield, but why a diet of canned knights I just can’t imagine.

  6. Simon says:

    Having read my original notes above and followed the link through to Mainly Norfolk, I couldn’t help but feel there should be more to be said about this song. It’s a completely different story to Polly/Molly Vaughan after all and I’ve just come across this, which I think pretty much nails the Irish origins.

  7. Reynard says:

    Diana, that’s just a reference to Twa Corbies / Three Ravens which Jon sang at the end of September, where the birds discuss having a newly slain knight for breakfast. Canned is from the old bad joke of the knight in armour approaching the dragon who then complains, “oh no, not canned food again!”.

    Simon, thank you for your ongoing research. Seems there is always something more to add.
    (By the way, did you notice that over the last year my Mainly Norfolk songs pages sprouted links to the Roud and Traditional Ballad Index and to Child texts when appropriate?)

  8. Diana says:

    Simon,”The Canadian Journal for Traditional Music” 1986 implies there are 88 variants for this song, most of them from America and Canada but stretching as far as Australia but the concensus is it has Irish origins (7) and it also has a variety of names, “Peggy Bawn” being one of them but also “Molly Brown” and others.

  9. Diana says:

    Thanks Reynard for your explanation, I shall have to retreat till September on the Archives as I didn’t actually discover this site until October. Like the joke though – a bit hammy isn’t it?

  10. Diana says:

    Simon I am not sure I have sent you on the right track – have been reading reams on the above mentioned site, I’m undecided whether the story is the same or is it just the title of the song which is identical. Sorry if I am up the pole.

  11. Diana says:

    @ Simon and Reynard – not a case of “Should have gone to Spec Savers” but “Should have gone to Norfolk Music” as it quite definitely states there that has nothing to do with “Molly Brown”. Should have got my brain in gear. Regrets.

  12. Diana says:

    Still a sentimental song – very pleasant listening.

Your Reply

Warning: Undefined variable $user_ID in /customers/a/0/f/ on line 121