Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding (I)
DESCRIPTION: Arthur and Dolly go to marry. Wearing tattered finery, he gets on his broken-down horse, while she walks by his side to the church. They are married. The seedy dinner pleases the crowd. There is drinking, singing, piping and dancing till sun-up.
EARLIEST DATE: before 1820 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 2(4))
LONG DESCRIPTION: "O! rare Arthur O'Bradley! wonderful Arthur O'Bradley! Sweet Arthur O'Bradley," being thirty years old, get's young Dolly's consent to marry. Wearing tattered finery -- a greasy, torn hat, breeches with holes, unmatched boots -- he gets on his spavined and blind old mare -- "the prime of his old daddy's stud" -- while Dolly walks by his side to the church, "in the midst of five thousand or more." The parson is shocked by the sight but marries them without fee -- "poor Arthur he'd none to give" -- and is invited to the party. The seedy dinner -- few but good dishes, such as roast guinea-pig -- pleasesd the crowd. There is drinking, singing, piping and dancing -- "you'd have laughed to see their odd stumps, False teeth, china eyes, and cork rumps" -- until sun-up "when each had a kiss of the bride, And hopped home to his own fire-side."
KEYWORDS: poverty wedding clothes dancing drink food music party humorous horse husband wife
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Dixon-Peasantry, Song #1, pp. 160-167,245, "Arthur O 'Bradley s Wedding" (1 text)
Bell-Combined, pp. 358-365, "Arthur O'Bradleys Wedding" (1 text)
Williams-Thames, pp. 271-274, "Arthur O'Bradley O" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Gl 68)
ADDITIONAL: W. Chappell, Popular Music of the Olden Time, (London, 1859 ("Digitized")), Vol. II, pp. 603-604, "Arthur o'Bradley's Wedding" (1 text first verse from Dixon, 1 tune)
Bodleian, Harding B 2(4), "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" ("Come neighbours and listen awhile"), J. Pitts (London), 1802-1819; also Harding B 2(3), Firth b.25(78), Harding B 11(105), Johnson Ballads 717 [many illegible lines], "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding"
cf. "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (II) (subject)
cf. "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (III) (subject)
cf. "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (IV) (subject)
NOTES: For a general introduction to the "Arthur O'Bradley" broadsides see Joseph Woodfall Ebsworth, editor, The Roxburghe Ballads: Illustrating the Last Years of the Stuarts (Hertford, 1891 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. VII part II, pp. 312-321.
In "Arthur O'Bradley" songs there seems always to be a chorus that is taken to be well known. In Ebsworth's text -- for "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (II) -- the chorus is given as "With oh brave Arthur [o' Bradley], &c." Or, possibly, the case is that the chorus is so long that it is impractical to quote. Cruikshank -- for "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (III) -- has "And my name is Squire Arthur O'Bradley, O! Rare Arthur O'Bradley, ..." continuing with adjectives tight, merry, frolicsome, tipsy, reeling, wise, foolish, handsome, dancing, capering and wonderful, all in one chorus.
One way to differentiate among the ballads is to consider inheritance. The only reference in "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (I) to inheritance is that the broken down mare is "the prime of his old daddy's stud." "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (II) is much more about inheritance and "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (III) has Arthur's statement of what he will leave. "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (IV) has nothing about the preliminaries to the wedding and so says nothing at all about inheritances.
Ritson notes that "Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor and Marriage" mentions a song of "Arthur-a-Bradly [see Child 149, verse 46] and prints one. Ritson's song of Arthur of Bradley's wedding was from black letter but "compared with and very much corrected by" a 1661 text (Joseph Ritson, editor, Robin Hood, (London, 1884 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 421-425, "A Merry Wedding; or O Brave Arthur of Bradley" ("See you not Pierce the Piper") (1 text)). Ritson does not claim that the song "Robin Hood's Birth ..." mentions is the particular song he has printed; as Dixon notes, "antiquaries are by no means agreed as to what is the song of 'Arthur-a-Bradley,' there alluded to ...." Ritson's song seems very sedate, with little ridicule, and perhaps, one sharp line in each verse. The 1661 broadside Ritson used to "correct" his text is indexed as "Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding" (IV).
Dixon, writing in 1846, notes that "an obscure music publisher'... about thirty years ago .. brought out an edition of 'Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding,' with the prefix 'Written by Mr Taylor.' This Mr Taylor was, however, only a low comedian of the day, and the ascribed authorship was a mere trick on the publisher's part to increase the sale of the song [Ebsworth, The Roxburghe Ballads, p. 312: "... between 1816 and 1822 is was sung by one Taylor, a comic actor in London, and it was published with music said to be 'arranged by S. Hale, at Walker's.' This version is virtually identical with ...Dixon...."]. We are not able to give any account of the hero, but from his being alluded to by so many of our old writers, he was perhaps, not altogether a fictitious personage. Ben Johnson alludes to him in one of his plays, and he is also mentioned in Decker's Honest Whore."
The Wiltshire-WSRO transcription is probably defective: it misses all of verse 3 but the first line and the first line of verse 4; the editor has been notified (11/28/2009). - BS
Last updated in version 2.8
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.