Dick Gaughan's Song Archive

Willie o Winsbury


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Willie o Winsbury

Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

The King has been a puir prisoner
A prisoner lang in Spain
An Willie o the Winsbury
Has lain lang wi his dochter at hame

Whit ails thee nou, my dochter Janet
Ye look sae pale an wan
Oh hae ye got ony sair sickness
Or yet been sleepin wi a man?

Oh I hae got nae sair sickness
Nor yet been sleepin wi a man
But it is for you my faither dear
Sae lang been ower in Spain

Tak aff, tak aff yer berrie-broun goun
Staun naked on a stane
That I micht ken ye by yer shape
Whether ye be a maiden or nane

So she's taen aff her berrie-broun goun
Stoud naked on a stane
Her back it wis bent an her bellie wis slack
An her apron strings wadnae pin

Oh wis it a laird or a duke or a knight
Or a man o birth or fame
Or wis it wi ane o my sairvin men
Sae newlie been ower in Spain

It wisnae a laird or a duke or a knight
Or a man o birth or fame
But it wis wi Willie o the Winsbury
A could nae langer lie my lane

Oh gin it be Wille o the Winsbury, he cried,
As weil A trust it be
Then afore that A dae eat or drink
High hangit he will be

Thae've socht him up an thae've socht him doun
Thae've socht him sair an lang
Till thair in the shade o an elder tree
It's Willie o the Winsbury thae found

Rise up nou, Willie o the Winsbury, thae cried
Rise up an haste away
For the king has sworn by his richt haun
That it is yer dyin day

Oh wha hae A robbed or wha hae A slain
Or wha hae A dune ony wrang?
That A sud fear tae face the king
An the time sall no be lang

An whan he cam the king afore
He wis dresst aa in the silk
His cheeks thae were like the berries red
An his skin wis as white as the milk

It is nae wonder, says the king
That my dochter's luve ye hae wan
For had A been a woman as A am a man
My bedfellow ye wad hae been

Will ye mairrie my dochter Janet
By the truth o your richt haun?
Or will ye marrie my dochter Janet
An A'll mak ye a laird o the laun

O A will mairry yer dochter Janet
By the truth o my richt haun
An I will mairry yer dochter Janet
But the de'il tak aa yer laun

An he's mountit her oan a milk white steed
Himsel oan a dapple gray
An he's made her the lady o as much laun
As she'd ride in a lang simmer's day


Song Notes

There are many different variants of this. I particularly like this one due to Willie's indignant rejection of the King's clumsy attempts to bribe him with offers of property. The verse "It is nae wonder says the King" I always sang live but for some reason (brain cell malfunction, probably) I omitted it when recording it.


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