Roger the Miller, sung by Stanley Macdonald, was recorded at the 1959 Miramichi Folksong Festival.

Stanley Macdonald
c. 1959
New Brunswick, CANADA
© 1962, Folkways Records & Service Corp. All Rights Reserved.



(As sung by Stanley MacDonald of Black River Bridge in the Miramichi Folksong Festivals of 1958, 1961, 1962 and 1963.)

This extremely popular song is found in Colonial America as Tid the Grey Mare, or Johnny the Miller. It is said to have come originally from the West of England, but it probably came from Scotland to Miramichi. Alan Mills says Stanley’s version is one of the most complete variants found in North America.

Roger the Miller came courting of late,
The farmer’s young daughter called Beautiful Kate.
She had to her fortune fine linen and rings,
She had to her fortune full five hundred things,
She had for a fortune fine ribbons and gowns,
She had for a fortune,
She had for a fortune,
Yes, five hundred pounds.

Oh, the wedding being ready, the supper sat down,
Oh, what a fine fortune is five hundred pounds,
When up speaks young Roger, “I vow and declare,
Although that your daughter is charming and fair,
I won’t have your daughter, I vow and declare,
I won’t have your daughter,
I won’t have your daughter,
Without the grey mare.”

Oh, up speaks her father, unto him a steed,
“I thought that you’d marry my daughter indeed,
Now since that I found out that things they are so,
Once more in my pocket my money shall go,
You won’t have my daughter, I vow and declare,
You won’t have my daughter,
You won’t have my daughter,
Nor yet the grey mare.

Oh, the money being vanished, went out of sight,
And so did Miss Katie, his love and delight,
And Roger the scoundrel was kicked out of doors,
And told to be gone and return there no more;
So away he went, tearing his long yellow hair,
And wished he had never,
And wished he had never,
Spoke of the grey mare.

Oh, the years passed and gone, till one day on the street,
Oh, who did he chance but his Katie to meet?
“Good morning, Miss Katie, do you not know me?”
“Oh, yes, sir,” she said “I have seen you before,
Or one of your likeness with long yellow hair,
Who once came a-courting,
Who once came a-courting,
My father’s grey mare.”

“Oh, indeed, Miss Katie, you are much to blame,
It was for the courting of you that I came,
For to think that your father would have nor dispute,
To give unto me a grey mare for boot,
Before he would part with his dear lovely sun,
So now I am sorry,
So now I am sorry,
For what I have done.”

“Oh, your troubles,” said Katie, “I value them not,
There is plenty more in this town to be got,
For to think that a man would be in despair,
To marry a girl for the sake of a mare,
The price of a mare it was never so great,
So fare-you-well, Roger,
So fare-you-well, Roger,
Go mourn for your Kate.”
(Last four words spoken)

Lyrics in Songs of the Miramichi, Louise Manny, 1968, pp. 281 - 282.

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