White Cockade


Jon attributes the learning of this to Forest School Camps (you can follow this link  to read more about them here) and it’s one of several annotated as such. The cockade is of course a symbol of allegiance, which in this case isn’t specified, but a quick bit of delving seems to indicate the Jacobites and King Charles as possible.  Naturally enough there are other songs of the same name to confuse the picture, notably from the pen of Robbie Burns. This also seems to be known as The Soldier’s Farewell and possibly as My Love Has ‘Listed, having one of the commonest themes found in country songs that tells of the fortunes of a girl and her young man who leaves her to join the army. The mudcat link here is also the closest lyrical match although the order of the verses is different as is some of the detail.


24 Responses to “White Cockade”

  1. edith lewis says:


  2. Yer Gran says:

    I recall the song from Edinburgh,late 60’s/early 70’s,we would add a repetition en masse of several lines,makes it a marvellous pub singalong piece.Jon’s version benefits from his unique plaintive-but-powerful tone.As we’d have said then,”Timmy”-translates roughly as “Sock it to me”,I think

  3. Danny Dove says:

    This brings back some wonderful memories of singarounds in Devon and Cornwall some 30 odd years ago. This song, along with Pleasant and Delightful and Farmers Toast were sung with great gusto at most, if not all of these sessions. Happy days – keep up the good work. Hopefully we shall see you at Oran Mor next week.

  4. Jane Ramsden says:

    One of my favourites, though I know it as Blue Cockade in the version sung by Show of Hands and Miranda Sykes, so interested to hear the above commentator, Danny, say it has been sung over 30 years in their neck of the woods, Devon and Cornwall.

  5. Fi says:

    One of my favourites too…I also know it as Blue Cockade, but from the Witches of Elswick ‘Out of Bed’ album.

  6. Exactly what Danny said above – same sessions! There’s also a most beautiful Cornish version called The Green Cockade. The Blue Cockade was, I believe, originally collected on Exmoor.

  7. Alan Rosevear says:

    Jon’s rendition reminded me of this beautiful melody with some great lyrical phrases – but I always regarded it as a song that could only be sung properly by a women – the story line is from the girl’s perspective. But thanks to your Mudcat link I found the bloke’s solution with the verses running; 1. man (I) gets recruited 2. I march into town and see sweetheart under tree saying 3. … Tis true etc. This is the second song Jon has inspired me to learn to singing standard – but that’s less than one per week so I am awed by the almost 3 a week Jon will need to learn to close the gap for the 365.

  8. Alan Rosevear says:

    Social singing won when I tried doing Jon’s “solo” version of the last lines. Before I could take a breath for the repeat refrain the rest of the room had got in “and my very” and there were dark mutterings about not giving everyone a chance to do the full four phrase repeat. If there’s chance, a social singing chorus will survive against a solo in the pub (and is more fun).

  9. Jon Boden says:

    yes, sorry, you’re quite right – I should have mentioned that lines 4 & 5 should refrain and, ideally, the ‘congregation’ should join in with the last line. In fact this is a good song for mass singing throughout (split in two for refrain section.) I’m hoping to assemble a gang at some point to record some shanties / chorus songs so I may revisit this later in the year. In the meantime there’s a recording here http://www.royaltraditions.co.uk/housesongs.html of me singing it more rhythmically and attempting (!) to play the refrain line on the concertina. Jon x

  10. Alan Rosevear says:

    Thanks for the link to the Royal – a nice sub-set of English joining-in songs – though letting a Devon “congregation” off the leash can cause structural damage so a concertina refrain is safer if the plaster looks flakey.

  11. What a great resource!

  12. christine says:

    Great memories of what I recall as a Geordie song with the final lines ending in a promise to be ‘married in Newcastle”. Wonderful enterprise, hope it succeeds in reawakening interest in the wealth of folk music that presently is embedded in the ‘baby boomers’ minds & will die with them unless another revival happens before they all develop Alzheimers.
    Go neiridh an rtath leath. ( Good luck to you in Gaelic)

  13. Old Muzza(shiver me timbers) says:

    AHA…………Above Jon said:-
    “I’m hoping to assemble a gang at some point to record some shanties / chorus songs”

    Now did I read a comment quite recently that Jon didn’t do ‘shanties’….
    oh yes he does!

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    Morning Muzza! I have ordered our ‘fletton’ song. The mystery of McDooley’s brick may soon be solved! I found a plausible explanation for banks of the sweet mossen, so just the mystery of the meaning of Mount Moriah to solve now. I canny abode not knowing!

    Love this song! If I get back to cellar-practising, this could be another after my sheepshearing song.

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    ‘abode’ not knowing? Spelling not woken up yet this morning…!

  16. Diana says:

    I am really cheesed of as this computer has done the ame trick yet again. Will try to repeat. A pleasant song.

    @Jane: As yesterdays comment is being moderated I want to thank you for your reply to my query. I have just been on Mainly Norfolk and played the “Show of Hands” video but it was too dark so I am no wiser as to their appearance. I have heard them on “This is Proper Folk Too!! and they sound good. Shall we now duet on “Abode with me”?

  17. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Diana: If that was the Farnham Maltings YouTube video of Show of Hands, it is very dark. Here is another of ‘The Blue Cockade,’ filmed at a beautiful venue, the National Centre for Early Music, in York, November 15th, 2009. Bear with Phil’s opening banter – it is oft like this, esp when you see Phil solo! – as the song doesn’t start until about 2½ minutes in. Steve and Miranda are in fine voice and the instrumentationof all three is, of course, superb. If you haven’t seen them live, GO! One of the best bands in the world!

  18. Jane Ramsden says:

    And their track that’s says it all, ‘Roots’:


    (Think those Fisherman’s Fiends are in there somewhere, as well as a bit of Cambridge Folk Fest at the end.)

  19. Diana says:

    @Jane: third time does it I hope – my posts keep disappearing. I can see why you like the group so much, I will have to dive into them some more. I paricularly liked Roots.

  20. Old Muzza(shiver me timbers) says:

    @Jane………………..if you get round to singing ‘Sheepshearing’ or ‘White cockade’in the lowest room of your house…either could be a best cellar!

  21. Diana says:

    Very funny Muzza – mind you the cellar does look quite smart but not as smart as you.

  22. Linda says:

    Still singing this at The Royal brilliant night there with Holler last Saturday……

  23. You managed to get some great feeling into the song Jon ~slightly mournful and regretful ~ nicely


  24. Linda says:

    Getting ready for tomorrow 7 minutes plus of The Rose In June .

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