Father Abney's Will

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Melody - W. Markham's tune, 1732
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From Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1731

My dearest wife,
My joy and life.
I freely do give her,
My whole estate,
With all my plate
Being just about to leave her.

2. My tub of soap,
A long cart rope,
A frying pan and kettle,
An ashes pail,
A threshing flail,
An iron wedge and beetle.

3. Two painted chairs,
Nine warden pairs,
A large old dripping platter,
The bed of hey,
On which I lay,
An old sauce pan for butter.

4. A little mugg,
A two quart jugg,
S bottle full of brandy,
A looking glass,
To see your face,
You'll find it very handy.

5. A musket true,
As ever blew,
A pound of shot and wallet,
A leather sash,
My calabash,
My powder horn and bullet.

6. An old sword blade,
A garden spade,
A hoe, a rake, a ladder,
Q wooden cann,
A close stool pan,
A clyster pipe and bladder.

7. A greizy hatt,
My old ram cat,
A yard and half of linnen,
A pot of greese,
A wollen fleece,
In order for your spinning.

8. A small tooth comb,
An ashen broom,
A candlestick and hatchet,
A coverlid,
A trip'e down with red,
A bag of rags to patch it.

9. A ragged mat,
A tub of fat,
A book put out by Bunyan,
Another book,
By Robin Rook,
A skain or two of spunyarn.

10. An old black muff,
Some garden stuff,
A quantity of burrage,
Some devil's weed,
And burdock seed,
To season well your porridge.

11. A chafing dish,
With one salt fish,
If I am not mistaken,
A leg of pork,
A broken fork,
And half a flitch of bacon.

12. A spinning wheel,
One peck of meal,
A knife without a handle,
A rusty lamp,
Two quarts of samp,
And half a tallow candle.

13. My pouch and pipes
Two oxen tripes,
An oaken dish well carved,
My little dog,
And spotted hog,
With two young pigs just starved.

14. This is my store,
I have no more,
I heartily do give it,
My years are spun,
My Days are done
And so I think I leave it.


The song was printed in Boston Weekly Rehearsal, Jan. 3, 1732, and on a Boston broadside, c 1739, the text above. It was sent to England and given a tune credited to a W. Markham, who is otherwise unknown. Song and tune are in The Gentleman's Magazine and The London Magazine in May, 1732, and in The Merry Mountebank, p. 130, 1732. Also with the tune in The Merry Medley, II, p. 150, 1745, and Vocal Enchantress, p. 332, 1783. Early title in England was "The Last Will and Testament of Mr. Mathew Avery." Song was "Old Timothy Hobson" on a London broadside of c 1780. There were later songbook and magazine and newpaper copies and it was reportedly collected with tune "The girl I left behind me" by Helen Hartness Flanders in 1945, and also to the tune "Yankee Doodle". "The Testament," Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, III, #702, 1987, is a version.

The list of posessions is usually the proposed dowry for a wedding, like that in "Arthur O'Bradley", but the two 17th century songs of this title do not contain them. For the 18th century one see The Scots Nightingale, 1779, or Alfred Williams Folksongs of the upper Thames, p. 271. Such a list is in a 16th century Scots song, here as Jenny come down to Jock. - Bruce Olson.

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