DESCRIPTION: The singer meets a damsel who has "a bunch of watercresses." She agrees to marry but "has some bills to pay" first, so he gives her money. Next day he get a letter that she's already someone's wife. "Sure you must have been greener than watercresses"
EARLIEST DATE: before 1886 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(4046))
LONG DESCRIPTION: Singer, a dairy farmer, goes to town, meets a pretty girl, asks the way to Camberwell and falls in love. He proposes, citing his farm and herds; she accepts, but tells him she will need money for wedding expenses. He gives her a sovereign; they kiss and part. She sends him a letter telling him that next time he proposes, he should be certain his intended is a maiden or a widow, not a wife, and promises to repay the sovereign, someday. Refr.: "She promised she would marry me upon the first of May/And she left me with a bunch of water cresses"
KEYWORDS: courting promise money love marriage rejection beauty humorous lover wife
FOUND IN: Canada(Mar,Newf) US(So) Britain(England,Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Greig #137, p. 1, "The Bunch of Water-cresses" (1 text)
GreigDuncan2 300, "The Bunch of Watercresses" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 320-321, "Watercresses" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach-Labrador 66, "Water Creases" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ives-NewBrunswick, pp. 106-108, "Watercresses" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manny/Wilson 63, "The Dairy Farmer (Water Cresses)" (1 text, 1 tune)
ST Peac320 (Partial)
O. J. Abbott, "The Bunch of Water Cresses" (on Abbott1)
Everett Bennett, "Watercresses" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Bodleian, Harding B 11(4046), "Water Cresses!," H. Such (London), 1863-1885
cf. "The Park in Portadown" (theme: the married woman pretending to be single)
The Watercress Girl
NOTES [153 words]: In [O. J. Abbott's version of] the song, the young man says he is from Belvishire. There is no such shire in England. On the other hand, Camberwell is a borough of London. - PJS
The Southwest Missouri State University site Max Hunter Folk Song Collection includes "Watercrest" ["T'was on the first of April When I arrived in town ..."], a version collected in Arkansas. In this one Mrs. Tray writes "But to think that I would marry you Upon the first of May You must think that I'm as green as watercrest's."
I don't consider this to be the same as the following ballad at Bodleian Library site Ballads Catalogue:
Bodleian, Harding B 11(4047), "The Water-Cress Girl" ("While strolling out one evening by a running stream"), unknown, n.d.; also Harding B 11(1233), "The Water-Cress Girl"
In this one the singer finds Martha gathering water-cresses, they "often strolled together," marry and live happily ever after. - BS
Last updated in version 2.6
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 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.