Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fair Betsy of Deptford

Fellow local blogger Transpontine has, over the years, been collecting and posting South London Songs. Fair Betsy of Deptford, alternatively Pretty Betsy of Deptford, appears in his lists as in several others. The text of the song is difficult to find, but back in 2004 I downloaded an image file of the song. I cannot remember from where I downloaded it, so many apologies to the owner of the image file.

Come all you pretty fair maids of every degree,
I pray give attention awhile unto me
The story of a fair maid to you I will unfold
Pretty Betsy of Deptford and her young sailor bold

Pretty Betsy was handsome and fair to be seen,
Her cheeks were like roses her age scarce sixteen,
Beloved and respected by all we are told,
And admired by William a young sailor bold

She was courted by William her faithful true-love,
And their vows to each other they offered above,
Their secrets of love they did often unfold
Fair Betsy of Deptford and her young sailor bold

It was early one morning before it was day,
Young Betsy, cried William, I must now away,
To cross the salt ocean for honor and gold
Then be constant & true to your young sailor bold

The anchor is weigh'd they are spreading the sails
The wind it blows fresh I must weather the gales
Take this ring dearest Betsy of emerald gold
As a token of love from your young sailor bold

They kiss'd & they parted tears fell from their eyes
Oh, William don't leave me fair Betsy she cries,
Don't venture your life on the ocean for gold
Stay at home with your Betsy my young sailor bold

Then to sea went young William thro storms & rain
And left pretty Betsy a weeping in vain
Eight years in a valley she wandered we are told
While round the world sail'd the young sailor bold

She wept and she mourn'd & her bosom did burn
And she cried my dear William when will you return
You have left me bewailing your affections are sold
Then the ocean she watched for her young sailor bold

Eight years in the valley fair Betsy did roam
At length her young sailor to England came home.
And when that young William did Betsy behold
She cried I lament for my young sailor bold

Dearest Betsy cried William love don't you know me
Eight years from Betsy I have ploughed the salt sea
I have brought you fine presents some rubies & gold
Pray don't you know William your young sailor bold

She shrieked and wept in transports she cried
When she saw her dear William to stand by her side
Crying I value no presents no rubies or gold
I rejoice at the sight of my young sailor bold

To the church they repaired & and in wedlock was tied
Young William to Betsy his beautiful bride
In a neat little cottage resides we are told
Pretty Betsy of Deptford & her young sailor bold