William Taylor


We’re back to more familiar folk themes and Jon recalls, “This is Dave Burland’s track on Voices (Fellside CD). John and I played this for our first few gigs, but somehow it slipped out of the repertoire. Maybe we’ll have another go at it at some point.” Perhaps we can look forward to that on the next S & B tour, we’ll see. On a side note that Fellside CD has a lot of the songs that feature on this site and you can link directly to a Mainly Norfolk page about it here, linking to see what Reinhard has about (Bold) William Taylor here.  Interestingly the sleeve notes  on Voices refer to the song being “found in the English, Scottish, Irish and American traditions,” and to Burland’s version being collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset. Another version was collected by Percy Grainger  in 1908 from a Joseph Taylor in Saxby-All Saints in Lincolnshire and Percy was apparently the first collector to use recording equipment. I guess we’re back to the universal theme of infidelity with another dramatic outcome. As such I’m rather taken with the alternative last verse…

If young folks in Wells or London
Were served the same as she served he,
Then young girls would all be undone,
Very scarce young men would be!

Further to that, if you Mudcat here you can also see in some variants she’s actually rewarded for her act with command of a ship!

You can buy the August digital album now from all good download stores:



16 Responses to “William Taylor”

  1. muzza says:

    I like this shortened version…………and the suggested alternative last verse above hits the nail on the head.

  2. dave m says:

    Love this song as it has everything in it deception, cross dressing,( in some versions ),as well as adultory and murder! Better than Emmerdale!

  3. Simon Dewsbury says:

    Brilliant version of one of my favourites.

  4. Roberto says:

    The British “Frankie and Johnny”, beautiful song and recording. In the notes, we read about “a Joseph Taylor” that recorded the song in 1908 for Grainger: I would remove the “a”, Joseph Taylor is Joseph Taylor, one of the most beautiful singers of traditional songs recorded at the very beginning of the recording era. In Mainly Norfolk there is an excellent page on him.

  5. admin says:

    Thanks Roberto, indeed there is and you can link to that here. Another case of me learning on the job that reaffirms the need for that glossary.

  6. Jane Ramsden says:

    I understand Jim Moray does a version of this on one of his CDs that I haven’t heard. A very poignant version by Jon here, with lovely musical accompaniment. More emotionally reaching for being that bit shorter.

  7. Jo Breeze says:

    More about William Taylor from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
    There are 119 records of William Taylor in the Library, collected from the singing of Joseph Taylor, Pop Maynard and George Gouldthorpe amongst others.
    We used the Roud number to cross reference against different titles for the song. When searched on Roud No. 158, we find 178 records, including variations on the name (‘Billy Taylor’)
    If you wish to see more detail on each record, change the ‘output’ to ‘record’ and press ‘submit query’.
    There are 25 records of the song in the Take 6 collection.
    We use the Roud index and the Take 6 online collections in the search for information on Jon’s selections.
    For more information, or to carry out your own search for songs, please visit http://www.efdss.org/front/access-the-library-online/access-the-library-online/115
    If you need any help accessing the library online or have any questions, please contact the VWML on 020 7485 2206 or library@efdss.org.

  8. Fosdyke says:

    Love this song – Hell hath no fury…… and all that

    We use the alternative verse, and preface with a warning about peril, violence & nudity …

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

    @Fosdyke……….you have the qualifications……
    how would you like a job as editor of “The News of the World”

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

    Not quite politic but here’s a Youtube link to Spiers &Boden at Shrewsbury “New York Gals”

  11. Simon says:

    I love this one and there’s a brilliant version on Heidi Talbot’s album The Last Star and if you don’t own it you should!!

  12. Jane Ramsden says:

    Found Jim Moray’s version on YouTube:


    But not Heidi Talbot’s. I wasn’t carried away by her ‘Last Star’, preferring her previous album ‘In Love + Light’, but she does cover a favourite song of mine ‘At The End Of The Day.’

  13. Diana says:

    Rather harsh retribution. Shoot Taylor but surely not the bride – she was innocent after all. Enjoyed the melody.

  14. Phil says:

    Here’s my William Taylor. The words are pretty much what Jon sings, but my tune was based on John Kelly‘s version.

    Jo Freya’s version – sung unaccompanied, in harmony with her sister Fi Fraser – is particularly good, and explains the cross-dressing element better.

  15. paul mayle says:

    My favourite version of this song is by Bill Jones on her Panchpuran album, I wish she’d come out of retirement.

  16. Old Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Love the William Taylor tune…..his true love couldn’t have loved him that much otherwise she would have wished him happiness with his new bride;
    I wonder if she paid for her misdeed:
    Ref Heidi Talbot…loved that strident cello….I wish they had moved that bally microphone which managed to hide her face for most of the performance!

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