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GUEST,Kevin Lyr Req: Betsy Watson (12) RE: Lyr Req: Betsy Watson 30 Apr 10

I found this at

The Effects of Love

Performed by: Maggie Graham
Recorded in: Hull (9th October 2007) by Steve Gardham
Genre: Courtship
Keywords: Drowning, Love, Sex
First line: Betsy Watson is my name,

Combined score and lyrics (PDF format)

abc score (.abc format)

Betsy Watson is my name,
I brought myself to grief and shame
By loving one who ne'er loved me,
With sorrow that I plainly see.
To his fond tales I did give way,
And from the paths of virtue stray:
By his fond tales I was beguiled,
And then to him I prove with child.
My grief and shame I cannot bear,
I am degraded everywhere;
Like a blooming flower I am cut down,
And now my love on me doth frown.
I did propose on Sunday night
To meet once more my heart's delight.
On the Humber banks where the billows roar,
We parted there to meet no more.
As token that I die for love
There will be seen a milk-white dove
Over my wat'ry tomb to fly,
And there you'll find my body lie.


Printed all over England throughout the nineteenth century by all the well-known broadside printers, and even latterly by Sanderson of Edinburgh, it is strange that what appears to be the seminal version by C Mate of Dover was printed so far from where the event is alleged to have happened. The Mate broadside (Madden Collection 22 [Country Printers 7] VWML microfilm 89, item 231), probably printed just after the event, is the only one to give background details to the event. Under the title is printed the following account:-

'Being a coppy of verses found on the Humber Banks, near Hull. Inclosed in a letter to have been wrote by Miss W a young Lady of Hull, who drowned herself in the river Humber on Tuesday Night the 17th of December 1812 for the love of W. F. a shopkeeper by whom she was with Child, directed by her to be Published as a warning to all young Girls.'
Young lovers all I pray draw near,
Sad shocking news you soon shall hear,
And when that you the same are told,
It will make your very blood run cold,
Miss B. W. is my name,
I have brought myself to grief and shame,
By loveing him that loves not me,
With sorrow now I plainly see.
Mark well these words that will be said,
By W. F. I was betrayd,
By his false tongue I was beguil'd,
At length by him I was with child,
At rest with him I ne'er could be,
Until he had his will of me,
To his fond tales I did give way,
And did from paths of virtue stray.
My grief is more than I can bear,
I'm disregarded every where,
Like a blooming flower I am cut down,
And on me now my love does frown,
Of the false oathes he's sworn to me,
That I his lawful wife should be,
May I never prosper night nor day,
If I deceive you he would say.
But now the day is past and gone,
That he had fixed to be married on,
He scarcely speaks when we do meet,
And strives to shun me in the street,
I did propose on Sunday night,
To walk once more with my hearts delight.
On the Humber banks where billows roar,
We parted there to meet no more.
Since he is false a watery grave,
I have this night resolved to have,
I'll plunge myself into the deep,
And leave my friends behind to weep,
His word it was pledged to me,
He ne'r will prosper nor happy be,
My Ghost and my Infant dear,
Both shall haunt him every where.
Dear Dear William, when this you see,
Remember how you slighted me,
Farewell vain world, false man adieu,
I drown myself for love of you,
As a token that I died for love,
There will be seen a milk white dove,
Over my watery tomb will fly
There you will find my body lye.
These cheeks of mine once blooming red,
Must now be mingled with the dead,
From the deep waves to bed of clay,
Where I must sleep till judgment day,
A joyful riseing then I hope to have,
When angels call me from the grave,
Receive my soul Lord from on high,
For broken hearted I must die.
Grant me one favor that's all I crave,
Eight pretty maidens let me have,
Drest all in white, a comely show,
To take me to the grave bellow,
Now all young girls, I hope on earth,
Will be warned by my untimely death,
Take care sweet Maids when you are young,
Of Men deluding flatering tongue
The vast majority of the broadsides give the initials of the couple as 'B.W.' and 'W.E.' without naming them, although the man's Christian name, William, is often given in a later stanza. The Mate broadside actually gives his initials as 'W.F.'. The only Birmingham printed version, by Wright, actually puts names to the couple as Betsy Watson and William Ellis, and a Keys of Davenport version, whilst copying the girl's name, names the man as William West.

Betsy is certainly the usual name given in oral versions (occasionally Sarah), but her surname can vary, Watson, Wilson, Williams, and Walton. Having searched the contemporary local newspapers, often the source of such ballads (See TYG 67), I found no mention of the event. This is hardly surprising as contemporary newspapers were dominated by international military operations and national politics. Taking the most likely names as Betsy Watson and William Ellis the Hull contemporary parish records and trade directories turn up several Elizabeth Watsons and at least two shopkeeper William Ellises. Unfortunately few records of suicides of the period have survived. Young girls in these circumstances committing suicide were fairly frequent and, unless they were from high status households, would not have made the headlines.

Not surprisingly, with such a wide printing, the ballad turns up in oral tradition in collections made in the early twentieth century in the southern English counties, North Lincolnshire and Scotland where most of the intense collecting was taking place. I have a manuscript copy c1877 from Robin Hood's Bay.

The tune is a relative of that ubiquitous large family that comes under the general umbrella title of Died for Love. Some of the stanzas are also similar to the general stock of female lament stanzas as one would expect with such subject matter. We chose to record a version collected just across the Humber from Hull in Barrow-on-Humber. Percy Grainger collected it in 1906 from Bryan Cooper, and Hull singer, Maggie Graham, kindly consented to sing this for us.

Archival information
TYG: 74
Key: F lydian
Time Signature: 5/8 and various
Roud id: 1493
Laws id:
Master title: The Effects of Love
Places Cited in Lyrics: Hull, Humber
2007 The Yorkshire Garland Group | Copyright info | Site Map | Acknowledgements

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