A 'lost' English Ballad from the 18'th Century

Arthur O'Bradley's Wedding {1}

Verse 1st

Come neighbours and listen awhile
If ever you'd wish for a smile
Or hear a true story of old
Attend to what I now unfold
Tis of a lad whose fame did resound
Through every village and town
For fun, for frolic, and whim
None ever was equal to him
And his name was Arthur O Bradley

O rare Arthur O'Bradley,
Wonderful Arthur O'Bradley,
Sweet Arthur O'Bradley, O.] {2}

Verse 2nd

Now Arthur being stout and bold
And near upon thirty years old
He needs a wooing would go
To get him a helpmate you know
So gaining young Dolly's consent
Next day to be married they went
And so to make himself noble appear
He mounted the old padded mare
He chose her because she was blood
And the prime of his old daddy's stud
She was wind-gall'd spavin'd and blind
And had lost a near leg behind
She was drop't and dock'd and fired
And seldom if ever was tired
She had such an abundance of bone
So he call'd her his high-bred roan
A credit to Arthur O Bradley

[Chorus:] {2}

Verse 3rd

Then he packed up his drudgery hose
And put on his holiday clothes
His coat was of scarlet so fine
Full trimm'd with buttons behind
Two sleeves he had it is true
One yellow the other was blue
And the cuffs and the capes were of green
And the longest that ever were seen
His hat though greasy and tore
Cock'd up with a feather before
And under his chin it was tied
With a strip from an old cow's hide
His breeches three times had been turn'd
And two holes through the left side were burn'd
Two boots he had but no kin
One leather the other was tin
And for stirrups he had two patten rings
Tied fast to the girths with two strings
[And he wanted a new saddle cloth
For his long had been eaten by the moth
Twas a sad misfortune you say
But still he looked gallant and gay
And his name was] {3} Arthur O Bradley

[Chorus:] {2}

Verse 4th

[Thus accouter'd away he did ride
While Dolly she walked by his side
Until they came to the church door
Amidst of five hundred or more
When from his old mare he did light
Which put the clerk in a fright
The parson so trembled and shook
That presently down went his book
Which Arthur soon picked up again
And declared if he did not begin
He was sure he would scuddle his nob] {4}
[If he kept him so long in the mob] {5}
[When Arthur so loud he did sing
That he made the whole ediface ring
Singing Dolly my dearie come hither
And let us be tacked together
Tis you I intend for to wed
And indulge you with half of my bed
Your an honour to Arthur O Bradley] {4}

[Chorus:] {2}

Verse 5th

[Now the vicar his duty discharged
Without either fee or reward
Declaring no money he'd have
As poor Arthur had none for to give
But to make him a little amends
He invited him home with his friends
To take a sweet kiss at the bride
And to eat a good dinner beside
The dishes though few they were good
And the sweetest of animal food
First a roast guinea pig & a bantem] {4}
[A fheep's head ftew'd in a lantern,] {5}
[Two calves feet & a bulls trotter
The fore and hind legs of an hotter] {4}
[With craw fifh, cockles, and crabs,
Lump fifh, limpets, and dabs,
Red herrings and fprats by dozens
To feaft all their uncles and coufins,
Who feem well pleas'd with their treat,
And heartily they all did eat,
For the honour of Arthur O'Bradley.


Verse 6th

Now the guefts being well fatisfied
The fragments were laid on one fide,
When Arthur to make their hearts merry,
Brought pale ale perkin, and perry,] {5}
When Timothy Twig stept in
With his pipe and a pipkin of gin
A lad that was pleasant and jolly
And scorn'd to meet melancholy
He could chaunt and pipe so well
No one could him excell
Not Pan the god of swains
Could ever produce such strains
But Arthur being first in the throng
He swore he would sing the first song
And one that was pleasant and jolly
And that should be "Hence Melancholy"
Now give me a dance quoth Doll
Come Jeffery, play us "Mad Moll"
'Tis a time to be merry and frisky
But first I must have some more whiskey
For I hate your barley swipes
It does not agree with my tripes
It makes me so qualmish and queery
Oh! you're right says Arthur my deary
My lilly, my lark, and my love,
My daffy down, dilly, my dove,
My every thing and my wife
I ne'er was so pleas'd in my life
Since my name was Arthur O Bradley

[Chorus:] {2}

Verse 7th

Then the piper he screwed up his bags
And the girls began shaking their rags
First up jump'd old mother Crow
Two stockings but never a shoe
Her nose was crooked and long
Which she easy could lick with her tongue
And a hump on her back did not lack
But you should not take notice of that
For though three score years and ten
She had something pleasing to men
And her mouth stood all awry
And she never was heard to lie
For she had been dumb from birth
So by nodding consents to the mirth
For the honour of Arthur O'Bradley

[Chorus:?] {2}

Verse 8th

Then the parson led off at the top
Some danc'd while others did hop
While some ran foul of the wall
And others down backward did fall
You'd laugh'd to have seen their stumps
False teeth, china eyes, and cork rumps
While some but one (leg?) they had gotten
And that which they had was rotten
There was lead up and down figure in
Four hands acrofs then back again
So in dancing they spent the whole night
Till bright Phoebus appear'd in their sight
When each had a kiss of the bride
And hopp'd home to his own fireside
Well pleas'd with Arthur O Bradley

[Chorus:?] {2}

The End

The ballad was rediscovered whilst I was doing some local research during a spell of the UB40's (unemployment) in 1979. It has been reconstructed from a number of possibly different but each incomplete sources. The ?'s indicate my uncertainty as to inclusion.

Main texts:

{1} 'John Jenkins - His Book' PAR 160/7/18, most complete version and the reconstruction has been based on this.

{3} Small loose manuscript PAR 160/7/20, this is incomplete.

{4} Large loose manuscript PAR 160/7/20, this is incomplete.

{1}, {3} & {4} are hand-written in a similar old-fashioned script but by an obviously different hand. However the words where the manuscripts overlap are consistent indicating a possible common source.

They are in the Chichester Public Record Office's 'Parish Manuscript Collection' (Reference: PAR), in West Sussex, England.

Additional text:

{2} & {5} are from an original broadsheet printed by J. Pitts, Wholesale Toy Warehouse, 14 Great St. Andrew St., Seven Dials, (London?). This is incomplete. This and the tunes are in the 'Lucy Broadwood' collection in the Ralph Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, Cecil Sharp House, London.

Thanks go to both of these authorities for allowing me access to photocopy and republish the material in their keeping.

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