William Taylor

William Taylor was a brisk young sailor
Full of heart and full of play
’til he did his mind uncover
To a youthful lady gay

Four and twenty British sailors
Met him on the king’s highway
As he went for to be married
Pressed he was and sent away

Folleri-de-dom, de- daerai diddero
Folleri-de-dom, domme daerai dae
Folleri-de-dom, de- daerai diddero
Folleri-de-dom, domme daerai dae

Sailor’s clothing she put on
And she went onboard a man-o-war
Her pretty little fingers long and slender
They were smeared with pitch and tar

On that ship there was a battle
She amongst the rest did fight
The wind blew off her silver buttons
Breasts were bared all snowy white

Folleri-de-dom, de- daerai diddero
Folleri-de-dom, domme daerai dae
Folleri-de-dom, de- daerai diddero
Folleri-de-dom, domme daerai dae

When the captain did discover
He said “Fair maid, what brought you here?”
“Sir, I’m seeking William Taylor.
Pressed he was by you last year!”

If you rise up in the morning
Early at the break of day
There you’ll spy young William Taylor
Walking with his lady gay

Folleri-de-dom, de- daerai diddero
Folleri-de-dom, domme daerai dae
Folleri-de-dom, de- daerai diddero
Folleri-de-dom, domme daerai dae

She rose early in the morning
Early at the break of day
There she spied young William Taylor
Walking with his lady gay

She procured a pair of pistols
On the ground where she did stand
There she shot poor William Taylor
And the lady at his right hand

Folleri-de-dom, de- daerai diddero
Folleri-de-dom, domme daerai dae
Folleri-de-dom, de- daerai diddero
Folleri-de-dom, domme daerai dae

Traditional

William Taylor” is an old ballad. It was a popular street song in the first half of the 18th century.

Several versions exist, but the story of the song concerns a young couple due to be wed. On the morning of the wedding, the groom William Taylor (Billy in some versions) is pressed into service. The bride searches for him, disguising herself as a man to become a soldier or sailor. When her true gender is revealed (usually in an incident involving accidental exposure of her breasts), the captain points her in the direction of her beloved, but mentions that he now has a new suitor. When she finds him, she shoots him and his new bride. In some versions, she is then rewarded by the captain with command of her own ship.

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