Keys of Canterbury, The

DESCRIPTION: The young man comes to the girl and offers her his love or other gifts if she will marry him. She scornfully refuses. After several similar exchanges, he typically offers his MONEY. She accepts. He withdraws the offer: "You love my money but... not me"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1826 (Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1)
KEYWORDS: bargaining courting rejection money dialog
FOUND IN: US(All) Britain(England(All),Scotland) Canada(Mar,Newf) West Indies(Jamaica)
REFERENCES (68 citations):
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 507-509, "A Paper of Pins" (3 texts)
Randolph 354, "The Paper of Pins" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 293-295, "The Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 354A)
Arnold-FolkSongsofAlabama, pp. 138-139, Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio 39, "The Keys of Heaven" (4 texts, 3 tunes)
Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan 177, "A Paper of Pins" (1 text plus mention of 1 more)
Peters-FolkSongsOutOfWisconsin, p. 146, "The Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Stout-FolkloreFromIowa 27, p. 42, "A Paper of Pins" (1 text)
Neely/Spargo-TalesAndSongsOfSouthernIllinois, pp. 192-195, "Paper of Pins" (2 texts, 1 tune)
McIntosh-FolkSongsAndSingingGamesofIllinoisOzarks, pp. 87-89, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Brown-VermontFolkSongsAndBallads, pp. 160-161, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Linscott-FolkSongsOfOldNewEngland, pp. 20-23, "I'll Give to You a Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 1, "A Paper of Pins" (1 text plus 5 excerpts and mention of 7 more); 2, "Madam, Will You Walk" (1 text plus mention of 1 more)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 1, "A Paper of Pins" (3 tunes plus excerpts of text); 2, "Madam, Will You Walk?" (2 tunes plus excerpts of text); 692, "I'll Give You My Love" (1 tune without a text, which Schinhan thinks might go here)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #223, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 131, pp. 276-277, ""Paper of Pins (1 text plus mention of 11 more)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 125, "A Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Bronner/Eskin-FolksongAlivePart2 52, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scarborough-ASongCatcherInSouthernMountains, pp. 299-304, "A Paper of Pins" (4 texts, 2 tunes on pp. 435-436)
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, pp. 184-186, "A Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roberts-SangBranchSettlers, #67, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thomas-DevilsDitties, pp. 160-161, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fuson-BalladsOfTheKentuckyHighlands, pp. 82-83, "The Lovers' Quarrel" (1 text); pp. 152-153, "I Will Give You a Red Dress" (1 text)
Bush-FSofCentralWestVirginiaVol5, pp. 12-13, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Richardson/Spaeth-AmericanMountainSongs, pp. 52-53, "The Keys to Heaven" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #198, "A Paper of Pins" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 22-23, "A Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Pottie/Ellis-FolksongsOfTheMaritimes, pp. 70-71, "The Keys of Heaven"; pp. 116-118, "I'll Not Marry You" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 92, "The Keys of Heaven" (6 texts, 6 tunes)
Sharp-OneHundredEnglishFolksongs 66, "The Keys of Canterbury"; 67, "My Man John" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Karpeles-TheCrystalSpring 66, "The Keys of Canterbury" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves/Sharp-TheIdiomOfThePeople 54, "The Keys of Heaven" (2 texts)
Reeves-TheEverlastingCircle 79, "The Keys of Heaven" (2 texts)
Hamer-GarnersGay, p. 80, "The Little Row of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sulzer-TwentyFiveKentuckyFolkBallads, p. 11, "I'll Give You a Paper of Pins" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames, pp. 80-821, "If You Will Walk With Me" (2 texts) (also Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Gl 317; Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO We 383, "If Thou Wilt Walk With Me")
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 401, "If You Will Walk With Me" (1 text)
Palmer-FolkSongsCollectedBy-Ralph-VaughanWilliams, #74, "The Keys of My Heart" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cologne/Morrison-WiltshireFolkSongs, pp. 46-47, "No, Sir! No!" (1 text, 1 tune, with the "No sir" refrain of "No, John, No" but the plot of "The Keys of Canterbury," including the "Keys of my heart" ending; it almost certainly combined the two songs)
Broadwood/Maitland-EnglishCountySongs, pp. 32-33, "I Will Give You the Keys of Heaven" (1 text, 1 tune)
Butterworth/Dawney-PloughboysGlory, pp. 26-27, "The Keys of Heaven" (1 text, 1 tune)
OShaughnessy/Grainger-TwentyOneLincolnshireFolkSongs 12, "The Keys of My Heart" (1 text, 1 tune)
OShaughnessy-MoreFolkSongsFromLincolnshire 10, "The Lusby Plough Play - Trio" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gardham-EastRidingSongster 15, p. 19, "The Keys of Heaven" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #34, "Madam, Will You Walk?" (1 text, 1 tune)
Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #286, pp. 166-167, "(Oh, madam, I will give you the keys of Canterbury)"
Newell-GamesAndSongsOfAmericanChildren, #5, "I'll Give to You a Paper of Pins" (3 texts plus excerpts, 1 tune)
Greig/Duncan4 825, "A Pennyworth o' Preens" (4 texts, 3 tunes)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1 41, "The Deil's Courtship" (1 text)
Opie/Opie-TheSingingGame 24, "I'll Give to You a Paper of Pins" (5 texts)
Montgomerie/Montgomerie-ScottishNurseryRhymes 88, "(I'll gie you a pennyworth o preens)" (1 text)
Scott-TheBalladOfAmerica, pp. 11-13, "The Keys of Canterbury" (1 text, 1 tune)
Copper-SongsAndSouthernBreezes, pp. 262-263, "The Silver Pin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax/Lomax-AmericanBalladsAndFolkSongs, pp. 323-324, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 135, "Madam, Will You Walk" (1 text, 1 tune)
Pound-AmericanBalladsAndSongs, 111, pp. 226-228, "Paper of Pins" (1 text)
Jekyll-JamaicanSongAndStory 21, "Tacoma and the Old-Witch Girl" (1 text, 1 tune)
NorthCarolinaFolkloreJournal, Dan Patterson, "A Sheaf of North Carolina Folksongs," Vol. IV, No. 1 (Jul 1956), pp. 29-30, "I'm a Little Sailor Boy Come from the Sea" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 346, "Paper of Pins" (1 text)
Fuld-BookOfWorldFamousMusic, p. 294, "I'll Give to You a Paper of Pins"
Morgan/Green-RugbySongs, pp. 139-140, "Will You Marry Me?" (1 text, modified; see NOTES)
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, p. 523, "Paper of Pins" (notes only)
SongsOfAllTime, p. 8, "Paper of Pins" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: James Orchard Halliwell, The Nursery Rhymes of England (London, 1846 ("Digitized by Google")),#534 pp. 229-230, "The Keys of Canterbury" (1 text)
Robert Chambers, The Popular Rhymes of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1870 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 61-62, "The Tempted Lady" ("I'll gie you a pennyworth o' preens")
"Rhymes of the Nursery" in Robert Chambers, Selected Writings of Robert Chambers (Edinburgh, 1847 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 213-214, "The Tempted Lady" ("I'll gie you a pennyworth o' preens") (1 text)
E. H. Rudkin, "Lincolnshire Plough Plays" in Folklore, Vol. L, No. 1 (Mar 1939 (available online by JSTOR)), pp. 89-90 ("Madam, I've got gold and silver") (1 text)

ST R354 (Full)
Roud #573
Linda Brown & Donnie Stewart, "Paper of Pins" (on JThomas01)
Lottie Chapman, "Madam Will You Walk" (on FSBFTX13)
Johnny Doughty, "Will You Marry Me?" (on Voice12)
Bradley Kincaid, "A Paper of Pins" (Gennett 6856/Supertone 9402, 1929; on CrowTold02)
Ray Napier & Margaret Winters, "Keys of Canterbury" (on JThomas01)
Joshua Osborne, "A Paper of Pins" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Vass Family, "Paper of Pins" (Decca 5425, 1937)

cf. "No, John, No" (plot)
cf. "Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)"
cf. "The Courting Case" (theme)
cf. "The Lover's Quarrel" (plot, lyrics)
Madam I Present You With Six Rows of Pins
Blue Muslin
I Will Give You The Keys of Heaven
If You Will Walk With Me
O Madam I Will Give to Thee
The Little Row of Pins
NOTES [717 words]: Yates, Musical Traditions site Voice of the People suite "Notes - Volume 12" - 11.9.02: "Although versions of 'Will You Marry Me?' only appeared at the beginning of the 19th century ... it would seem certain that the song is based on an earlier pattern, namely the Elizabethan Stage Jig, a short dialogue song and dance performed by two or three characters."
The Rudkin text is an example of a song of courting, rejection, and, in this case acceptance, inserted into a mummers' "wooing" or "plough" play. For other examples and some discussion see "Sweet Moll." - BS
[In both of Sharp's versions], the lady accepts something and that's that. In "Keys of Canterbury" after rejecting various riches, she accepts a "broidered silken gownd," presumably a wedding gown, and the song ends there. In "My Man John", which also includes a servant who advises his master on how best to court the lady, she rejects all material things but accepts "the keys of my heart." - PJS
In the Chambers text the woman rejects the offer of "the half o' Bristol town," but accepts "the hale o' Bristol town." The script ends with the comment: "And aff he flew wi' her! Noo, lasses, ye see ye maun aye mind that." - BS
Halliwell says about his text line, "Oh, madam, I will give you a pair of shoes of cork," "this proves the song was not later than the era of chopines, or high cork shoes." This would be the 1400s to 1600s -- an Act of Parliament of 1670 made the wearing of high-heeled shoes -- among other things -- by a woman subject to "the penalty of the laws now in force against witchcraft, sorcery, and such like misdemeanors." (source: the Platform Diva site). See also Child 173I, "Mary Hamilton": "When she gaed up the Tolbooth stairs, The corks frae her heels did flee." - BS
Although this certainly began as a true song, Linscott reports it as a singing game, adding "It was usually played by the girls alone, as it did not contain enough action for the boys." - RBW
Jekyll-JamaicanSongAndStory's "Tacoma and the Old-Witch Girl" is classified by Jekyll as an "Annancy" story. It is a cante fable following the Ashanti (West African) tradition: (Note that an "old-witch" is simply, "a person of either sex possessed of supernatural powers, not necessarily old in years"; Jekyll, p. 18). Tacoma would marry the old-witch girl, but she "don't want a husband as yet." Tacoma borrows fancy clothes and gold watch and chain, and loads a fine coach with presents. "An' this time Tacoma didn' know the gal was a old-witch, an' ... the gal really know everything" Tacoma planned. He gets to her yard and sings "I will make you have a present of a nice gold watch ... If you'll only be my true lover," and she answers "No, no, dear, not for all your gold watch...." Tacoma repeats his song for a silk dress, silver bangle, gold egg, grey horse, "An the gal say to Tacoma: 'No, for I want the best thing which you have.'" Tacoma can't guess what that might be, "An' the gal say if Tacoma find out she will marry him." "An' Tacoma guess an' guess until he made the gal a promise that he will give [her] the key of his heart." They marry.
Broadwood notes that the song in Jekyll's "Tacoma and the Old-Witch Girl" is like "'The Keys of Heaven' in English County Songs, 'Blue Muslin' in Songs of the West, and 'Madam I will gi'e you,' etc., in Journal of the Folk-Song Society, No. 7" [English songs now classified as Roud #573] (Lucy E. Broadwood, "English Airs and Motifs in Jamaica" in Walter Jekyll, Jamaican Song and Story (New York: Dover Publications, 1966 (Reprint of David Nutt, 1907)), #21, p. 287, "Tacoma and the Old Witch Girl"). - BS
The connection to "The Keys of Canterbury" is indeed obvious, but I can't help but be reminded also of the "what do women want?" motif that is the key to Chaucer's "Wife of Bath's Tale" and Gower's "Tale of Florent" and "The Marriage of Sir Gawain" [Child 31]; for extensive background on that motif, see the notes to Child 31
The Morgan/Green-RugbySongs text "Will You Marry Me?" is an explicit request for the girl to take off her knickers in return for cash; it has clearly been rewritten. But it is equally clearly this (the chorus still says "Will you marry me?" and it ends with rejection). Steve Roud gives it its own number, #10235, but I am lumping them. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.3
File: R354

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