Bonny Farday
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

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Lyrics

This ballad is an American variant of Child Ballad #14 (Babylon or The Bonnie Banks o Fordie). According to Child, a version of this ballad in Motherwell's Manuscripts is from a tradition that dates to the latter half of the eighteenth century. There are similar ballads in Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and Norway.

John Jacob Niles collected this tune in 1932 from Hazard, Kentucky. (Note: Niles is known to have retouched or written several of the ballads in his book. He is therefore not considered a reliable source. I have included them here out of interest.)

Variants and alternate titles include: The Banishd Man and Duke of Perth's Three Daughters.

For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.

Three fine ladies lived in a bow'ry,
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
Three fine ladies lived in a bow'ry,
They went forth in a field that was flow'ry
Jury flow'r and rosemary.

They pulled flow'rs by two, by three,
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
They pulled flow'rs by two, by three.
A man come, bent on a robbery,
Jury flow'r and rosemary.

He asked one sister would she wife.
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
He asked one sister would she wife.
He robbed her of her own sweet life.
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

He buried her so tenderly
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
He buried her so tenderly.
To keep the flowers company.
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

He took the second by the hand,
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
He took the second by the hand,
He made her lightly step and stand.
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

He asked this sister would she wife,
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
He asked this sister would she wife,
Or would she die by his wee knife.
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

She would not wife, she would not bide,
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
She would not wife, she would not bide,
So at that robber's hand she died.
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

So like the first he laid her by,
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
So like the first he laid her by,
To keep the flowers company.
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

He took the wee one by the hand,
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
He took the wee one by the hand,
She would not step, she would not stand.
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

Said, 'I'll not marry such as you,'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
Said, 'I'll not marry such as you,
Who killed my sisters one and two.'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

'Among my kin my brother strong'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
'Among my kin my brother strong
Will kill you for this very wrong.'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

'What name, what name, what name, my fay?'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
'What name, what name, what name, my fay?'
'My brother's name is Bonny Farday.'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

'Oh Sister dear, what can I do'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
'Oh Sister dear, what can I do
But kill myself in room of you?'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

'Come dig my grave full wide and deep'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,
'Come dig my grave full wide and deep
And place my sisters at my feet.'
Jury flow'r and rosemary,

Additional Versions
Related Links
From The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles and
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.