As a child ballad it is also known as 'Tom the Barber', 'John Barbour' etc. This beautiful Scottish ballad exists in many variants. In this version, a king who has been away in Spain returns to find his daughter pregnant by Willie O' The Winsbury. He summons him to be hanged but upon meeting him is so struck by his beauty that he offers both land and his daughter's hand. In our interpretation Willie accepts the daughter's hand but refuses the offer of land and title because their love is enough.
Willie o’ Winsbury (Roud 64/Child 100)
The king has been a prisoner, and a prisoner long in Spain,
And Willie o the Winsbury, has lain with his daughter Jane
What ails you? what ails you, my daughter Jane? What makes you pale and wan?
Oh, have you had any sore sickness, or else been sleeping with a man?”
I have not had any sore sickness, nor yet been sleeping with a man.
It is for you, my father dear, for biding so long in Spain.
Cast off, cast off your berry-brown gown, stand naked upon the stone,
That I may know you by your shape, whether you be a maiden or none
So she cast off her berry-brown gown, stood naked on the stone
Her apron was low, her haunches round, her face was pale and wan
Oh, was it with a lord or a duke or a knight, or a man of birth and fame?
Or was it with one of my serving men, that's lately come out of Spain?
No, it wasn't with a lord, nor a duke, nor a knight, or a man of birth and fame.
But it was with Willie of Winsbury, I could bide no longer alone
And the king he has called on his merry men all, by thirty and by three,
Saying, “Fetch me this Willie of Winsbury, for hanged he shall be!”
But when he came the king before, he was clad all in the red silk.
His hair was like the strands of gold, his skin was as white as milk
And it is no wonder, said the king, that my daughter's love you did win.
If I was a woman, as I am a man, my bedfellow you would have been
And will you marry my daughter Jane, by the truth of your right hand?
Oh, will you marry my daughter Jane? I'll make you the lord of my land
Yes, I’ll marry your daughter Jane, by the truth of my right hand.
Yes I’ll marry your daughter Jane, but I'll not be the lord of your land.
And he's mounted her on a milk-white steed, and himself on a dapple grey.
He has made her the lady of as much land, as she'll ride in a long summer's day.