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Sleeve Notes for Dusty Diamonds by Martin & Shan Graebe

Dusty DiamondsGems of traditional English song, mined from the manuscripts of Sabine Baring-Gould and Cecil Sharp.

Some of the songs are presented here for the first time since they were collected. Many are variants of songs that are well known but we feel that the differences give them freshness and renewed charm. The songs we have chosen are mainly from the South-West of England, particularly Devon, though Cornwall is well represented. There are also two songs written by Martin.

Vocals - Martin and Shan Graebe,
Concertina - Keith Kendrick,
Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll
Additional Vocals - Doug Bailey, Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham


1. The bold privateer
2. American stranger
3. Hunting the hare / Adam the poacher
4. Among the green hay
5. Shropshire Union
6. A frigate well manned
7. Come all you worthy Christians
8. Henry Martin
9. The great galleon of Plymouth
10. The lark in the morn  
11. Thesetting of the sun
12. The complaining maid
13. Down in the coal mine
14. My coffin shall be black

Track Notes

1 The bold privateer
Trad. (Roud 1000)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P2, 147 (189) It is not, perhaps, surprising that the County of Drake, Hawkins and Raleigh should have an abundance of sea songs and Baring-Gould’s collection has many of them, some of which we have included on this CD. This song was collected from a number of our singers. Our version came from James Hext, a shepherd from Postbridge in the middle of Dartmoor. ‘The Bold Privateer’ was issued as a broadside by a number of 19th Century printers and comes from one of those brief periods when, because we weren’t officially at war with anyone, the Crown licensed captains to have a go anyway. Vocals - Martin and Shan, Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll

2 American stranger
Trad. (Roud 1081)

Cecil Sharp collected this song from the traveller Priscilla Cooper. He visited her when she was camped at Stafford Common, near Seaton, East Devon in September 1907. The words were incomplete and so we have added a couple of lines from the version collected by Baring-Gould from Mary Treise of Menhenniot. We have omitted Sharp’s last verse which appears to have strayed in from ‘The Indian Lass’. There is a wax cylinder recording in the EFDSS collection held at the British Library Sound Archive which was made by Cecil Sharp in January of the following year and which is believed to be of Priscilla Cooper singing this song. Vocals - Shan and Martin

3 Hunting the hare / Adam the poacher
Trad. (Roud 1181/Roud 13907)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P3, 47 (420) Two songs about mistreating hares. Actually, we rather like hares and there is no way we would say “go out and do it”, but these are magnificent tunes. ‘Adam the Poacher’ has long been a favourite piece and is invariably played at the Baring-Gould Festival each autumn, where we have sung it with Nick and Becki. It was played to Baring-Gould by William Andrew, a fiddler who farmed at Sheepstor, on the South Western edge of Dartmoor. He recalled that, when he had played for village dances, the dancers would sing the words of the songs as he played. He could not, though, remember all the words - only those that came at the ‘turns’ in the dance. Baring-Gould wrote a set of words based on William Andrew’s description of the song and Shan has re-written a couple of his lines for our version. ‘Hunting the Hare’ was included in Robert Bell’s ‘Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England’ (1857). Though Baring-Gould did collect a version of the song in Devon, we liked this tune which was sent to him in 1899 having been taken down from an old man (un-named) at St. Genys in Cornwall. Vocals - Martin and Shan, Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll, Concertina - Keith Kendrick.

4 Among the green hay
Trad. (Roud 965)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P2, 371 (330) Baring-Gould was sent this song by Miss F.J. Adams from Plymouth who remembered it being sung by her grandmother early in the 19th Century. The song comes from ‘The Virgin Unmasked’, a musical entertainment performed in the 1780s. She had forgotten a couple of the verses and Baring-Gould used a text sent to him by Lucy Broadwood, which she had collected in Hampshire to complete the song. Another version was later collected in Hampshire by George Gardiner. In modern times Mike Yates recorded the song from Freda Palmer at Witney. Vocals - Shan, Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll

5 Shropshire Union

Martin wrote this song after a very pleasant trip in the 1970s, delivering a boat from Market Harborough to Llangollen. Images of the beauty of the Shropshire Union Canal have stayed fresh in the mind for thirty years. The sentiments of the song are those of the old boaters and canal workers who worked through the difficulties of the first part of the 20th Century, only to experience the dismantling of the commercial canal system as a result of post-war nationalisation. Since it was written the canal system has been reborn as a major leisure enterprise – but, on some of the more distant stretches of water, it is still possible to enjoy the countryside and get away from the fumes of the trucks that have replaced the old boats. Vocals - Martin

6 A frigate well manned
Trad. (Roud 21847)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P2, 327 (299) Baring-Gould heard this song from the labourer Robert Hard of South Brent in November 1892, shortly before the old man died. We have not found another instance of it having been collected, though Baring-Gould gives two published sources: The Mistaken Lady’s Garland (1760) and ‘Frigate well mann’d and other songs’ published in Glasgow in 1802. Baring-Gould heard the same tune from the Dartmoor fiddler William Andrew who played it in 6/8, which we found to work better for us than Hard’s 4/4 version. Baring-Gould noted that the first four notes in the refrain for Hard’s version should be “trumpeted with the mouth.” Though we tried it we found ourselves laughing too much to do it in performance! Vocals - Martin and Shan, Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll

7 Come all you worthy Christians
Trad. (Roud 815)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P2, 61 (144) This song was collected by Cecil Sharp from John Dingle while he was visiting Sabine Baring-Gould at his home at Lewtrenchard in August 1904. Baring-Gould had heard Dingle sing the song ten years earlier. By that time Dingle was one of the few of Baring-Gould’s singers who was still alive. Sharp later walked over to John and Elizabeth Dingle’s cottage in the neighbouring parish of Coryton and it was during this visit that he took the photograph of the couple which Chris Molan has used as the basis for her painting on the CD cover. This stirring Christian socialist anthem was recovered by several of the Victorian and Edwardian collectors, mainly in Southern England. Vocals - Martin, Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll.

8 Henry Martin
Trad. (Roud 104, Child 250)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P1, 122 (53) Matthew Baker, a crippled labourer in Baring-Gould’s parish contributed this version of a ballad which is well known throughout England. The original, ‘Andrew Barton’, deals with the exploits of the eponymous Scotsman who caused problems for Henry VIII, and who then sent his two best admirals out to put a stop to his piracy. We have adopted a couple of irresistible verses from the version sung by Roger Luxton of nearby Bratton Clovelly, which bring the King’s Lifeguards into the story. Vocals - Martin and Shan, Concertina - Keith Kendrick

9 The great galleon of Plymouth

This song was written by Martin. It follows in the footsteps of fantasies like ‘The Crocodile’ or ‘The Derby Ram’ (who takes a bow in the song). Revisiting Plymouth recently we reflected that the ship would have been very, very big! We may have been taking the whole thing too literally, but we anticipate receiving a lecture from a marine architect who wishes to tell us that the stresses on a wooden structure would not have allowed a vessel of this size to be constructed. Vocals - Martin, Additional vocals - Doug Bailey, Shan Graebe, Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham.

10 The lark in the morn
Trad. (Roud 151)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P2, 258 (255) The words of this version of ‘Lark in the morn’ were collected from Sam Gilbert, the 81 year old landlord of the Falcon Inn at Mawgan in Pydar, Cornwall. We have coupled Gilbert’s text with the wonderful tune that Baring-Gould heard from Robert Hard of South Brent, one of the first men that Baring-Gould collected songs from. Vocals - Shan and Martin, Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll

11 The setting of the sun
Trad. (Roud 166)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P3, 30 (409) This song is widely found in Britain, Ireland and America under a variety of titles: ‘The Shooting of his Dear’, ‘Molly Bawn’ and ‘The Fowler’, for example. This version, with its stunning tune, comes from one of Baring-Gould’s most remarkable singers, Sam Fone of Mary Tavy, Devon. There are 120 songs from Fone in the collection - more than any of Baring-Gould’s other singers. But Baring-Gould said that Sam knew more than 200 altogether. Vocals - Martin

12 The complaining maid
Trad. (Roud 1546)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P2, 206 (222)
This song came from William Houghton, the Harbourmaster (and retired smuggler) of Charlestown in Cornwall. It is clearly related to ‘’Twas on One April Morning’, which was collected by Priscilla Wyatt-Edgell near Exeter in 1908 and which was made popular by the late Tony Rose. Miss Wyatt-Edgell was a friend of Baring-Gould’s daughters and sent him a number of songs, though not this one. Baring-Gould also heard a fragment of the song from Mary Gilbert, daughter of the Landlord of the Falcon Inn in Mawgan, Cornwall. She sang only the last verse and the tune was not taken down because she was uncertain about it.
In the 1910 issue of the Journal of the Folk Song Society in which ‘April Morning’ was published, Lucy Broadwood suggested that it was originally from a play or ballad opera. The literary feel of Houghton’s words suggests that his version may be closer to that original, but his tune is very unusual.
Vocals - Shan, Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll

13 Down in the coal mine
Trad. (Roud 3502)

Martin found this unpublished song in the Cecil Sharp manuscript collection, and was intrigued by the connection with coal mining in Somerset. At the time Sharp was collecting, the Somerset pits were at their peak of activity. Their decline started in the 1920s, though the last pit didn’t close until 1973. The song was collected from Louie Hooper and Lucy White at Hambridge in September 1903. The two sisters gave Sharp three verses as well as a tune. He wrote at the bottom of his notation ‘Not, of course, a folk song.’ A.L. Lloyd had heard a version from miners and recorded that the song had been written by J.B. Geoghegan in 1873. Geoghegan had something of a hit with the song not only in Britain but also in the USA where it is found in several collections. It was this version that was popularised by the Ian Campbell Folk Group. There are several broadside versions of the song, however, and Roy Palmer tells me that some of these can be dated before 1870. Geoghegan is known to have written a number of songs based on broadsides and I believe that this may be the case with his take on ‘Down in a Coal Mine’. Louie Hooper and Lucy White’s song is clearly derived from the broadside rather than from Geoghegan’s song. Their first verse has parts of the broadside’s first and second verses, and so we have used the broadside to reconstruct it. Vocals - Martin and Shan, Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll

14 My coffin shall be black
Trad. (Roud 1704)

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P2, 254 (252) Baring-Gould collected the words to this morbid little song in February 1893 from a boy at Altarnun in Cornwall who said it had been learnt from his aunt who had been ‘bred up in the Launceston Union’. The boy used it every night as his evening prayer. Baring-Gould gave no tune but, in August 1906, Ralph Vaughan Williams collected the song from a Mr Kinnaid at Dunstan, Northumberland to this strong tune. Vocals - Martin and Shan, Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddles - Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll Additional Vocals - Doug Bailey, Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham