MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
The Butcher Boy
Bert Fitzgerald NFLD 2 Tape 10A Track 17
Trepassey Audio:

In Jersey City where l did dwell
A butcher boy oh l courted well
He courted me and my heart away
And with me now he will not stay

I knows a place in this same town
Where my love goes and he sits him down
He takes a strange girl all on his knee
And he tells her things that he don't tell me

Saying grieve [this word sounds like glieve] for me if I don't know why
They have more gold and silver than l
But his gold will melt and his silver will fly
In grief [pronounced glief] as poor oft as l

I went upstairs to make my bed
But nothing like my mother do
My mother came up and to me did say
Oh daughter daughter you're acting queer

Oh mother dear you do not know
What pain and sorrow I’m going through
Go get a chair and set me down
A paper and pen for to write words down

On every line she did drop a tear
For calling her Willie home again
Her father came home and to her did say
Where is my daughter where is she gone

He went upstairs and the door he broke
He found her hanging up to a rope
He got his knife and he cut her down
And on her bosom those words he found

Go dig my grave long wide and deep
Place a marble stone at my head and feet
And a turtle dove [pronounced turkeylove] on my bosom
To show the world l died for love


Sources: Laws P24; Roud 409; Belden 201-7 (The Butcher Boy; The Blue-Eyed Boy); Randolph 45; Gardner/Chickering 37; Leach 737-8; Peacock, 1965: 705,709; Please refer to the Traditional Ballad Index ( for an extensive bibliography.
From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Burke, Anne MUNFLA 78-274; Burke, Carmel (for Sr. Theresa Ryan) MUNFLA 72-261; Casey, George MUNFLA 68-40; Cochran, C. MUNFLA 75-102; Dalton, Gordon MUNFLA 73-153; Goldstein, Kenneth and Gerald Thomas MUNFLA 78-239; Kearney, Anna MUNFLA 74-45; Knight, Margaret Bennett MUNFLA 73-145; Maldonald, Joan MUNFLA 78-314; Molovin, Larry MUNFLA 78-275; Rosenberg, Neil and Wilf Wareham MUNFLA 71-1; White, Anna MUNFLA 78-453.

History: The earliest date for this ballad is 1903 in Belden. There are many variations including songs such as “The Blue-Eyed Boy,” “The Tavern in the Town,” “She Died for Love” and “Must I Go Bound” among others. There is some debate as to whether this is a complete song or an amalgam of two songs.

Text: In Jersey City a girl courts a man. He loses interest in her and flirts with other women in the local tavern. The girl laments that she does not have as much money as the other woman. She cries to her mother and then writes a suicide note. Her father finds that she has hung herself in her room with the note in her bosom.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse. The last line is spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song. The meter is 3 /4. The key is indistinct due to a speaking like singing voice.

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