Martinmas Time

Traditional

It fell out upon one Martinmas time
When snow lay on the border
There came a troop of soldiers here
To take up their winter quarters

Chorus:
With me right fol adle edle idle a-dee-o
With me right fol adle edle eyrie

And they rode east and they rode west
And they rode o’er the border
And there they met with a nice little girl
And she was a farmer’s daughter.

And they made her swear a solemn oath
With a salt tear in her eye-o
Tahat she would come to the quarter gates
When no one did her spy-o

And she’s gone to the barber’s shop
To the barber’s shop went soon-o
Amde them cut her long yellow hair
As short as any dragoon-o

And she’s gone to the tailor’s shop
And dresses in soldiers clothes-o
Two long pistols down by her side
And a nice little boy was she-o

And she’s gone to the quarter gates
And loudly she does call-o
There comes a troop of soldiers here
And we must have lodgings all-o

And the quartermaster he somes down
And he gives her half a crown-o
Go find your lodgings in the town
for here there is no room-o

But she’s moved nearer to the gates
And louder she does call-o
Room, room, you gentlemen,
We must have lodgings all-o

O the quartermaster he comes down
And he gives her Eighteen ppence-o
Go find your lodgings in the town
For tonight there comes a wench-o

O she took a whistle from her side
And she blew it loud and shrill-O
You’re all very free with your eighteen pence
But you’re not for a girl at all-o

And she took the garters from her knees
And the ribbons from her hair-o
She’s tied them around the quarter gtes
As a token she’s been there-o

And when they found that it was her
They tried to have her taken
But she’s clapped her spurs to her horses side
And she’s galloped home a maiden.

Notes: Irvine learned this from Anne Briggs who had it from the late and sorely missed A.L. Lloyd.

“Martinmas Time” is the story of “a troop of soldiers” extracting a solemn promise from a maid that she will come to their quarters and she, being true to her word, does so. But by cutting her hair and dressing as a man, she succeeds in cheating them while keeping her part of the bargain: she leaves a sign to show that she has been there and gallops home a maiden.

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