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Mary Ashford's Tragedy

by Jon Wilks

Mary Ashford’s grim ghost proclaims the sad tale “I’m ravish’d and murdered,” she cries “Tho’ it can’t be denied Chastity denied Yet will no friend weep And must justice still sleep Must my cause then be never more tried?” “I was a pure virgin, young blooming and gay. Went blithely with health to a dance Where a villain stood by And on me cast an eye Resolved to try To debauch me or die With flat’ry and smiles did advance” “To the fields then with him I with innocence went Where his flat’ry did all prove in vain While the moon herself shrouds Behind the black clouds And the screech-owl did scream A most ominous theme But I left him to go home again” “With an innocent heart I went tripping along It was morn, yet looked gloomy around Tho’ the month is was May Yet no lark on the spray Nor from the green bushes Nor linnets, nor thrushes Did send fourth as usual a sound” “My path it lay near to an old blasted oak From when seem’d to issue a groan When from near the tree The villain seized me I struggled with screams Cold sweat ran in streams And I made the fields ring with my moan” “I struggled and got myself free from his hold And ran o’er the rough plowed ground But my running was vain For he caught me again I sorely did cry None to help me was nigh So his lewdness my heart-strings did wound” “He effected his will while I fell in a swoon But I arose from the ground I vowed that he Should hang on a tree For ravishing me To no bribe would agree So he threw me right into the pond” “I breathed cold water instead of sweet air ‘Til my soul from my body did part Now by heaven I’m urged ‘Til my sins are all purged To hover beside The pond where I died Then to glory flew with a pure heart” “All of you that have breasts, that have feelings for me Pray pity my poor murdered fate See my blood on the ground How it’s scattered around See the footsteps I made My fate to evade And revenge the dire cause I relate” “Exterpate the wretch, if the laws won’t revenge And him from society spurn May remorse gnaw his soul And his time quickly roll ‘Til without a reprieve Hell doth him receive And no human breast for him mourn” “Now all you young virgins that bloom as I bloom’d Keep at home in your proper employ Ne’er in dancing delight Nor to be out at night Nor in the fields roam With a stranger from home Lest you meet a fate wretched as I” “And I beg for my sake that you’ll visit the pond Once a year, dressed in mourning array In the fine month of May Drop a tear and then say Mary Ashford died here By a villain severe Who could not her virtue betray” “If a stone as a shrine should be raised in my name And a verse put my mem’ry to keep Let the words by but short Only this to import Mary Ashford lies here Whose fate was severe Was ravished and murdered – laws sleep”
There’s a town called Birmingham The population’s great The toyshop of the world, it’s said With artisans elate There’s New Street and a street called High You can see the fashions stroll And one who always greets the eye He calls out sausage roll Sausage roll, sausage roll He calls out sausage roll His apron is as white as snow His whiskers, they’re all red To all he makes a courteous bow It’s how he earns his bread He’s capped, white shirted and polished shoed As black as any coal His jacket striped in pink and blue He calls out sausage roll A pretty missus with her mama She cannot help the whim However courteous they are Their fancies will begin To take a slice or a jelly tart Her mama can control But nothing pleases this maiden fair Like this man’s sausage roll I cannot tell if quantity Effects so much his sale Or if, indeed, the quality Or perhaps his pleasing tale I cannot tell you the reasons why This man he will not stroll To male or female passers by And present his sausage roll If mamas will fastidious be And papas will be blessed If daughters do not always see Their truest interest I cannot tell you what can be right For ladies on the whole But I’d say don’t stay out late at night And sigh for sausage roll


released September 30, 2020

Produced and performed by Jon Wilks. Vocal on "Mary Ashford's Tragedy" by Katherine Priddy.


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Jon Wilks Whitchurch, UK

'The sort of performer folk circles mean when they talk of the living tradition' - Mike Davies, Folking.com

“One of the best of the New Wave of Folk Blokes. As a guitar player and arranger of traditional songs, Jon Wilks already deserves speaking of in the same breath as your Simpsons and your Morays.” – Ian A. Anderson, fRoots Mag
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