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: 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
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