Rosemary Lane

Another performance from the late Bert Jansch, here live from Relix.  He sings this British ballad about a servant girl who is seduced and then abandoned by a sailor lad. The story is found in several songs, including “Bell-Bottomed Trousers,” “Ambletown,” and “When I Was Young.” You can find more discussion of the origins from the wonderful and highly informed people over at

Rosemary Lane

When I was in service in the Rosemary Lane,
I won the good will of my master and dame.
Till a sailor came there one night to lay;
That was the beginning of my misery.

He called for a candle to light him to bed;
And likewise a silk kerchief for to tie up his head.
To tie up his head as the sailors will do,
And he said, “My pretty Polly, will you come too?”

This maid, young and foolish, she thought it no harm
To lie into bed for to keep herself warm.
What happened that night I may never disclose,
But I wish that short night had been seven long years.

Oh, on the next morning he so early arose
And into my apron three guineas did throw.
Saying, “This will I give, and much more will I do
If you’ll be my Polly wherever I go.

“And if it’s a boy, he will fight for the king;
If it be a girl, she will wear a gold ring.
She will wear a gold ring and a dress all of flame
To remind you of your time in the Rosemary Lane.”


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