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John Renfro Davis
|According to Child, printed versions of this ballad probably date back to at least 1720. The first documented printing was in Tea Table Miscellany (1740). Lady Casslilles Lilt (aka Johnny Faa, the Gypsiey Laddie) is in the Skene Manuscripts which holds documents from the 17th century.
Variants and alternate titles include: Johnny Faa, Davy Faw, The Egyptian Laddie, The Gypsy Davy and Lord Garrick.
These lyrics are a version from the Appalachians.
Variations of this tune in melody and lyrics at this site are:
This ballad is Child Ballad #200 (The Gypsy Laddie).
For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.
The gypsies were expelled from Scotland in 1541 and then in 1609. In 1624 Johnny Faa (a title of prominent gypsies) and seven other men were sentenced to hang and Helen Faa and ten women were sentenced to be drown, but the women's execution was stayed.
Circa 1788 this ballad became associated with John, the sixth earl of Cassilis and his first wife, Lady Jean Hamilton. Before her marriage Lady Jean was in love with "Johnny Faa, of Dunbar". Years later, after she had borne two children, Johnny Faa returned and persuaded her to elope. Johnny Faa and seven other gypsies (which correlates to the 1624 sentence) were hanged and Lady Jean was banished and confined for life in a tower built for her imprisonment. Eight heads, effigies of the gypsies, were said to be carved in the stone tower.
An English lord came home one night,
Inquir-ring for his lady,
The servants said on every hand,
She's gone with the Gypsy Laddie.
Go saddle up my milk-white steed,
Go saddle me up my brownie
And I will ride both night and day,
Till I overtake my bonnie.
Oh he rode East and he rode West,
And at last he found her,
She was lying on the green, green grass,
And the Gypsy's arms all around her.
Oh, how can you leave your house and land?
How can you leave our money,
How can your leave your rich young lord,
To be a gypsy's bonnie.
How can you leave your house and land,
How can you leave your baby,
How can you leave your rich young lord,
To be a gypsy's lady.
Oh come go home with me, my dear,
Come home and be my lover,
I'll furnish you with a room so neat,
With a silken bed and covers.
I won't go home with you, kind sir,
Nor will I be your lover,
I care not for your rooms so neat,
Or your silken bed or your cover.
It's I can leave my house and land,
And I can leave my baby,
I'm a-goin' to roam this world around
And be a gypsy's lady.
Oh, soon this lady changed her mind,
Her clothes grew old and faded,
Her hose and shoes came off her feet,
And left them bare and naked.
Just what befell this lady now,
I think it worth relating,
Her gypsy found another lass,
And left her heart a-breaking.
Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians
As Sung by Jean Ritchie and
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.