The Wraggle, Taggle Gypsies, O!
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

Information
Lyrics
According to Child, printed versions of this ballad probably date back to at least 1720. The first documented printing was in Tea Table Miscellany (1740). Lady Casslilles Lilt (aka Johnny Faa, the Gypsiey Laddie) is in the Skene Manuscripts which holds documents from the 17th century.

Variants and alternate titles include: Johnny Faa, Davy Faw, The Egyptian Laddie, The Gypsy Davy and Lord Garrick.

Variations of this ballad in melody and lyrics at this site are:

This ballad is Child Ballad #200 (The Gypsy Laddie).

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

The gypsies were expelled from Scotland in 1541 and then in 1609. In 1624 Johnny Faa (a title of prominent gypsies) and seven other men were sentenced to hang and Helen Faa and ten women were sentenced to be drown, but the women's execution was stayed.

Circa 1788 this ballad became associated with John, the sixth earl of Cassilis and his first wife, Lady Jean Hamilton. Before her marriage Lady Jean was in love with "Johnny Faa, of Dunbar." Years later, after she had borne two children, Johnny Faa returned and persuaded her to elope. Johnny Faa and seven other gypsies (which correlates to the 1624 sentence) were hanged and Lady Jean was banished and confined in a tower built specifically for her imprisonment. Eight heads, effigies of the gypsies, were said to be carved in the stone tower.

There were three gypsies a come to my door,
And downstairs ran this lady, O!
One sang high and another sang low,
And the other sang bonny, bonny, Biscay, O!

Then she pulled off her silk finished gown
And put on hose of leather, O!
The ragged, ragged, rags about our door,
She's gone with the wraggle taggle gypsies, O!

It was late last night, when my lord came home,
Enquiring for his a-lady, O!
The servants said, on every hand,
She's gone with the wraggle taggle gypsies, O!

O saddle to me my milk-white steed,
Go and fetch me my pony, O!
That I may ride and seek my bride,
Who is gone with the wraggle taggle gypsies, O!

O he rode high and he rode low,
He rode through woods and copses too,
Until he came to an open field,
And there he espied his a-lady, O!

What makes you leave your house and land?
What makes you leave your money, O?
What makes you leave your new wedded lord?
To go with the wraggle taggle gypsies, O!

What care I for my house and my land?
What care I for my money, O?
What care I for my new wedded lord?
I'm off with the wraggle taggle gypsies, O!

Last night you slept on a goose-feather bed,
With the sheet turned down so bravely, O!
And to-night you'll sleep in a cold open field,
Along with the wraggle taggle gypsies, O!

What care I for a goose-feather bed?
With the sheet turned down so bravely, O!
For to-night I shall sleep in a cold open field,
Along with the wraggle taggle gypsies, O!
Related Links
There are many variations of the tune, my favorite is Black Jack Davy, which is on the Steeleye Span album All Around My Hat.
From Folk-Songs, Chanteys and Singing Games
Information From The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.