Squire of Edinburgh Town, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Squire of Edinburgh Town, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 853903.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 93.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): 221.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Lucy Simpson.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 03/07/1979.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Well, now, there’s another song, you see. It’s the same air as that1, but the shoe’s on the other foot – she fancied the squire. Now, I had a bit of it, and I’m trying to dig it out, but it’s the same air.

There was a squire in Edinburgh town, and a squire of high degree
He courted a country girl, and a comely girl was she
When her father came to hear of it, then an angry man was he
He requested of his daughter dear to shun his company.

There lived a farmer in the town, he had one only son
He courted this comely girl ’til he thought he had her won
He got consent from father and mother, likewise from old and young
The wedding day was set upon, their feasting to begin.

She wrote her love a letter, and sealed it with her hand –

JH: She wrote him a letter telling him that she was getting married. And he wrote her back a letter asking her to be dressed in green, the night of the wedding. And the night of the wedding, he came to Edinburgh with his company dressed in green – he had forty men with him, and they were all dressed in green. And he went into the wedding house, you know-

LS: This is the farmer’s son?

JH: No, this is the squire.

LS: The squire?

JH: The farmer’s son, you see, was getting married, and she wrote the squire a letter-

LS: Wait a minute-

JH: -telling him-

LS: I thought you said she loved the squire.

JH: That’s what I said. But… the parents made a match for her to marry the farmer’s son. They didn’t like the squire. But she wrote him a letter telling him she was getting married. And he wrote her back, ‘The night of your wedding, be sure to be dressed in green. The night before you marry.’ They were having a ‘do’ in the house, a céilí or something, because, he said ‘a suit of the same that you put on for your wedding I’ll prepare.

A suit of the same that I put on for your wedding I’ll prepare
Oh my dearest dear, it’s with you I’ll wed, in spite of all that’s there.

I’m trying to get the song back. But anyway, they came through the town. And the husband asks somebody, ‘Did you see the crowd who came through the town today, all dressed in green?’ And then the squire walks into the wedding-house, you know, where they were holding the pre-wedding dance, and the intended groom said to him,

‘If it’s for a fight that you came here, I am the man for you.’
But he said,
It’s not for a fight that I came here, but good company for to show
So give me one kiss from your bonny, bonny bride and away from thee I’ll go.

And he took her on the floor to dance, and he swept her out. She was dressed in green, too. He put her behind him on the horse, and off they went. ‘And off they went to Edinburgh town, with the company-‘ They were all dressed in green. It’s a good song…

Notes

1. As ‘The Banks of Sweet Dundee.’ Joe sang this song for Lucy immediately after he had given her ‘The Banks of Sweet Dundee,’ because the air had reminded him of it. Unfortunately, Joe never got around to recording the remaining verses of this song for Lucy.

This is a pity, because his synopsis promises at least as complete a version as the one Clare singer Nora Cleary called ‘The Green Wedding’; see Topic’s compilation Voice of the People (TSCD 656):

There was a squire in Edinburgh town, and a squire of high degree
He fell courting a comely girl, and a comely girl was she
She got consent from father and mother, from old and young likewise
And it’s then she said, ‘I am undone,’ as the tears fell from her eyes.

She wrote her love a letter, and sealed it with her right hand
And told him she was to be wedded to a very rich farmer’s son
The very first line he looked over it, he smiled and thus did say
‘I might deprive him of his bride all on his wedding day.’

He wrote her back an answer, and that without delay
He wrote her back an answer, to be sure to be dressed in green
‘A suit of the same I will put on, your wedding I will see
A suit of the same I will put on, your wedding I’ll prepare
Oh dearest dear, it’s with you I’ll wed in spite of all that’s there.’

He looked east, and he looked west, and all around the land
He selected a score of fine young men all of a Scottish clan
They rode on in twos and threes, and a single man rode he
And away they went to the wedding’s house with his company dressed in green.

‘Oh, welcome, and oh, welcome! Where have you spent the day?’
He laughed at them, he scoffed at them, he smiled and thus did say,
‘They might have been some fairy troops who rode along this way.’

She filled him a glass of new port wine; he said to the company round,
‘Where’ replied, ‘is the man’ he said, ‘the man they call him groom?’
‘Where’ replied, ‘is the man’ he said, ‘who will enjoy the bride?
For another might like her as well as him, and would take her from his side.’

Then out spoke the bachelor, with a voice so loud and clear
Saying, ‘If it is for fight that you come here, I am the man for thee!’
‘It’s not for fight that I come here, but friendship for to show
Give me one kiss from your bonny, bonny bride and away from you I’ll go.’

He caught her by the middle so smart, and by the grass-green sleeve
He marched her out of the wedding-house, but his company asked no leave
The drums did beat and harmonium sound, most glorious to be seen
And away he went to Edinburgh town with his company dressed in green.