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about

(Source-Jonathon Moses, Orford, NH)

First appearing in Scots Magazine in 1803, this ballad is also known as “The Bonnie Banks o Fordie” (Child #14) and “Babylon”. At the beginning of the Second World War, it was discovered that a game-version of the song was played by some children in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

lyrics

There was three sisters picking flowers
High and a lee and aloney-O!
They scarced but picked but one or two
On the Burly Burly Banks of Barbry-O

It's there they spied a bank robber bold
It's there they spied a bank robber bold

He took the oldest by the hand
He hurled her 'round he made her stand

Saying will you be a bank robber's wife
Or will you die by my penknife

No I shan't be a bank robber's wife
I'd rather die by your penkife

Then he took out his penknife
And there he ended her sweet life

He took the next one by her hand
He hurled her 'round he made her stand

Saying will you be a bank robber's wife
Or will you die by my penknife

No I shan't be a bank robber's wife
I'd rather die by your penkife

Then he took out his penknife
And there he ended her sweet life

He took the youngest by her hand
He hurled her 'round he made her stand

Saying will you be a bank robber's wife
Or will you die by my penknife

Yes I will be a bank robber's wife
So I shan't die by your penknife

Oh dear I wish my two brothers was here
You would not have killed my sisters dear

Oh what would your two brothers do
One was a minister, the other such as you.

‘What was your two brothers’ names?’
One was John, the other was James.’

Oh, what is this that I have done?
I have killed my sisters, all but one.

And now I’ll take out my penknife,
And here I’ll end my own sweet life

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Debra Cowan Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Singer Debra Cowan performs a cappella and with guitar, interpreting a wide range of folk songs. Debra has two acclaimed solo recordings to her credit, and her third, “Fond Desire Farewell” was produced by former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks. A former California resident, she now resides in Massachusetts and tours all over North America and the United Kingdom. ... more

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