Jon admits that this is “Another of the big ballads that I’ve only just got around to learning. I’m not sure about the verse where she sounds like she’s regretting it – sort of takes some of the power away. On the other hand it maybe makes her a more rounded character?”
Another in the Child collection, this one is #200. I do find it interesting that the various recorded versions transcribed at Mainly Norfolk of this all seem to have notes alluding to this being based in fact, before dismissing that as entirely unlikely. As far as I can see this may stem from a myth propagated by Child himself that names a Lady Cassilis as having been abducted in the early C17th, but this is almost certainly dubious to say the least. The song has many alternative titles and variants, including The Gypsy Laddie, The Raggle Taggle Gypsies and Black Jack Davy amongst them. Have a look at Wiki here for the wealth of title variants and recordings. The song is also very common and widespread, which probably says more about its popularity as a fantasy amongst the travelling and Gypsy communities than anything else. I can’t help but feel that the rejection of wealthy trappings for the basic life will have sat well with the alternative lifestyle ethos of the 60s, which may explain its popularity today. While we’re at it, I was also curious as to why the Gypsies are yellow. Any thoughts?