Mary Neal (Kenneth Peacock)

I am a bold undaunted youth,
my name is Tom McCann,
I am a native of sweet Millertown
convenient to Strablane,
For the stealing of an heiress
I must lie forlorn in jail,
Her old father swears he'll hang me
for his daughter Mary Neal.

While in strong irons I lay bound
my love sent word to me:
"Don't fear my father's anger
for I will set you free."
That very night he gave consent
to let me out on bail,
Until I would stand my trial
for his daughter Mary Neal.

I love my charming Mary,
she's the joy of my life,
If ever I am free again 'twill be
her who will be my wife,
The day all of my trial
to appear she did not fail,
She freed me from all bondage,
she's my charming Mary Neal.

Being full of wrath and anger
her old father loud did call,
And when my trial was over
I approached the garden wall,
My well-known voice she seemed to hear
that echoes o'er hill and dale.
"You're welcome here, love, Jimmy dear,"
cries charming Mary Neal.

On a primrose bank we both sot down
for to discourse a while,
She said, "If you'll comply with me
I'll free you from exile,
The Charles S Douglas is ready
and tomorrow she will sail,
So come to Quebec 'long with me,"
cries charming Mary Neal.

A coach they then got ready
to Derry for to go,
And she did bribe the coachman
for to let no one know,
He said her secrets he would keep
and never would reveal,
So down to Derry straight I went
with charming Mary Neal.

'Twas on to Captain Wilson
our passage for to pay,
While in the town of Derry
we under cover lay,
We joined our hands in wedlock bands
before the ship sot sail,
Her old father's wrath I valued not,
I gained my Mary Neal.

So over the proud and swelling sea
our ship do gently glide,
Six weeks passage to Quebec,
six weeks on the boisterous tide,
Until we came near Wheaton's Head
hard fortune to bewail,
I thought that day in Gaspé Bay
I'd lose my Mary Neal.

'Twas not long after daybreak
when a storm it did arise,
The wind it blew a howling gale
and dismal were the skies,
When our vessel on a sand-bank struck
as she drifted before the gale,
There was forty-four washed overboard
and with them Mary Neal.

'Twas with the help of men and boats
four hundred lives did save,
While the rest of our ship's number met
a deep and watery grave;
Her yellow locks I chanced to spy
a-floating in the gale,
I threw my body in the deep
and sove my Mary Neal.

Her old father wrote a letter
giving me to understand,
That if I'd comply for to go home
he'd will me half his land.
I wrote him back an answer
and that without fail,
Saying: "Ten pounds a week I do receive
with your daughter Mary Neal."

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a British broadside ballad, Mary Neal [Laws M17] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, Mary Neil, published by James Lindsay, Jr (Glasgow) sometime between 1860 and 1890, and archived in the National Library of Scotland Digital Library shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(063) ....####

This variant was collected in 1952 by Kenneth Peacock from James (Jim) Rice [1879-1958] of Cape Broyle, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 1, pp.862-863, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

GEST notes that the word 'sot' appears several times in the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English, usually within quotations which serve as examples of usage for defined words. The word itself is obscurely defined on page two of the Introduction to the Dictionary. It is used in this song as the past tense of the verb 'sit' and 'set' spoken with a Newfoundland dialect. The same would apply for the word 'sove' [= 'saved'].


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