William Taylor [Laws N11]

DESCRIPTION: Willie is (about to be married when he is) impressed. His love dresses like a man and seeks him. She is revealed as a woman. The captain tells her that William is about to marry another. She shoots him. The captain gives her a command or marries her
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1769 (Journal from the Nellie)
KEYWORDS: homicide betrayal pressgang disguise cross-dressing sailor
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,NE,Ro,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont) Britain(England,Scotland) Ireland
REFERENCES (37 citations):
Laws N11, "William Taylor" (Laws gives a broadside texts on pp. 93-94 of ABFBB)
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 308, "William Taylor" (1 text)
OShaughnessy/Grainger-TwentyOneLincolnshireFolkSongs 2, "Bold William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
OShaughnessy-YellowbellyBalladsPart1 7, "Bold William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #75, "William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Musick-JAF-TheOldAlbumOf-William-A-Larkin 1, "William Tailer" (1 text)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #101, p. 1, "Billy Taylor" (1 text)
Greig/Duncan1 169, "Billy Taylor" (6 texts, 3 tunes)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1 19, "Willie Taylor" (1 fragment)
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 182-183, "William Taylor" (1 text)
Randolph 67, "Willie Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 106, "William Taylor" (1 text)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore4 106, "William Taylor" (1 excerpt, 1 tune)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 74, "The False Lover" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #25, "Willie Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Bush-FSofCentralWestVirginiaVol2, p. 80, "William Taylor" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 61, "William Taylor" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Sharp-OneHundredEnglishFolksongs 71, "William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves/Sharp-TheIdiomOfThePeople 113, "William Taylor" (2 texts)
Karpeles-TheCrystalSpring 48, "William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Butterworth/Dawney-PloughboysGlory, p. 45, "William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henry/Huntingdon/Herrmann-SamHenrysSongsOfThePeople H213, p. 334, "Willie Taylor (a)"; H757, pp. 334-335, "Willie Taylor (b)" (2 texts, 2 tunes, both composite)
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 120, "William Taylor" (1 text)
Flanders/Brown-VermontFolkSongsAndBallads, pp. 152-154, "William Taylor" (1 text)
Ord-BothySongsAndBallads, pp. 315-316, "Billy Taylor" (1 text)
Greenleaf/Mansfield-BalladsAndSeaSongsOfNewfoundland 22, "Willie Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach-FolkBalladsSongsOfLowerLabradorCoast 131, "Willy Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Karpeles-FolkSongsFromNewfoundland 49, "William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia 32, "Billy Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie-BalladsAndSeaSongsFromNovaScotia 46, "Willie Taylor" (2 texts)
Manny/Wilson-SongsOfMiramichi 61, "Brisk Young Seaman (Willie Taylor)" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke-TraditionalSingersAndSongsFromOntario 60, "Willie Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Huntington-SongsTheWhalemenSang, pp. 94-95, "William Taylor" (1 text, with the ending lost, 1 tune)
Huntington-TheGam-MoreSongsWhalemenSang, pp. 153-158, "William Taylor"; "Bold WIlliam Taylor" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Palmer-OxfordBookOfSeaSongs 53, "William Taylor" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: C. H. Firth, _Publications of the Navy Records Society_ , 1907, p. 326, "The Female Lieutenant; or, Faithless Lover Rewarded"; p. 327, "Billy Taylor" (2 texts)

Roud #158
Joseph Taylor, "Bold William Taylor" (on Voice06)
Bodleian, Firth c.12(233), "Bold William Taylor ," H. Such (London), 1863-1885; also Firth c.12(231), Firth c.12(234), Harding B 11(391), Harding B 11(3010)[some words illegible], "Bold William Taylor"; Harding B 25(2069), "William Taylor"; Firth c.12(232)[some words illegible], "The Female Lieutenant" or "Faithless Lover Rewarded"
LOCSinging, as113210, "William Taylor," Leonard Deming (Boston), 19C

cf. "Une Belle Recompense (A Beautiful Reward)" (plot)
Bold William Taylor
NOTES [632 words]: Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety's version of this song ends with the girl drowning herself in grief. Laws mentions this only in connection with the Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety text, but it appears that Randolph's version also ends this way (it says only that the girl drowned, but Randolph marks a missing verse).I initially though this an Ozark attempt to moralize the song. But it occurs also in Brown. Cox has a similar, slightly less heavy-handed attempt; the girl is arrested but her fate not listed. Perhaps it's a general American urge to punish the "crime." - RBW
She likewise drowns herself in all three of Sharp's texts. - PJS
The "Bold William Taylor" broadsides end in marriage; "William Taylor" and "The Female Lieutenant" end in command.
Reeves/Sharp-TheIdiomOfThePeople is a composite of four texts: "this is a composite of all elements of Sharp's ms. versions, none of which is complete by itself." - BS
C. H. Firth treats his "Billy Taylor" as "A Burlesque Ballad" of his other text (in which the sailor is called "William Taylor"); he describes it as Sung by Mr. Emery, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. Still, they are clearly the same song, and both end with the girl as "lieutenant of the Thunder Bomb". The mention of bomb ships (mortar vessels) strongly dates those versions, at least, to the eighteenth or early nineteenth century.
Amazingly, this isn't the only theatrical version of the song. According to Stanley Appelbaum, editor, Show Songs: from The Black Crook to The Red Mill, Dover Publications, 1974, p. xx, a musical play called "Billee Taylor" "was an English comic opera [by Edward Solomon], written in the wake of the phenomenal success of Gilbert and Sullivan's Pinafore and Pirates.... The story is based loosely on a popular English ballad (poem) about a lass who masquerades as a tar to follow her lover Billee, and shoots him when he proves unfaiithful. There is no fatal shooting in the show, but Phoebe does finally give her hand to Captain Flapper instead of to Billee. The hit song was a humorous one, 'All on Account of Eliza,' sung by the sailor Ben Barnacle, who is in love with the recalcitrant widow Eiza Dabsey. The original London Ben Barnacle was J. D. Stoyle. A W. F. McCollin had the role in the 1881 New York production."
Fowke-TraditionalSingersAndSongsFromOntario, p. 195, comments "No other heroine [of songs of women following their lovers to sea] turns her pistol on her sweetheart when he proves unfaithful. However, she has an older sister in the girl who stabbed 'Young Hunting' to death for deserting her."
For notes on legitimate historical examples of women serving in the military in disguise, see the notes to "The Soldier Maid."
It is probably just coincidence, but in 1804, shortly before the earliest attested date of this ballad, a book by Robert Kirby described the exploits of a disguised female sailor. Her real name, supposedly, was Mary Anne Talbot, and she took the name John Taylor -- and she served for several years at sea, aboard both merchant and naval vessels, and was wounded before finally claiming discharge on the grounds of her sex. (see David Cordingly, Women Sailors and Sailors' Women, Random House, 2001 [I use the undated, but later, paperback edition], pp. 76-77). Cordingly says that Talbot's tale is fictional, but that would not have been known at the time. Could Talbot's alternate name have supplied the name of the character in this song? Probably not, but it's an interesting coincidence. - RBW
Musick-JAF-TheOldAlbumOf-William-A-Larkin: After shooting William "Polly threw herself away All the crew they ran for to save her And alas it would not do. Willy got shot and Polly got drownded This put an end to thare strife" [sic]. - BS
Last updated in version 6.0
File: LN11

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