Peggy Gordon

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"Peggy Gordon" is a Canadian folk song that has become popular in many English-speaking countries.[1] As a folk song it was first collected in the 1950s[2][3] and 1960s[4] in Canada, mainly in Nova Scotia.[5]


In the 1820s and early 1830s, a song called "Peggy Gordon" was published on American song-sheets: in New York and in Boston (available at the libraries of Brown University, RI and the New York Historical Society).[6]

A couple of decades later, a song called ”Peggy Gordon” was mentioned in Fitz-Hugh Ludlow's story The Primpenny Family. The story was published in serial form in the magazine Vanity Fair in 1861, mentioning the song in chapter VI in a conversation between Mr. Kineboy and Miss Primpenny: .[7]

"Did ye ever hear tell o' Peggy Gordon, my dear?" "I have read about it, and often thought I'd like to hear it," said Miss Primpenny with enthusiasm.
"What key do you sing it in? I'll play the accompaniment for you."

The chorus of Kineboy's performance is very similar to the chorus of present-day versions:[8]

Oh, Peggy Gordon, you are my darlin'!
Come sit you daown by the side o' me!
And tell to me the ver-eye reason,
Why I am slighted so by th-e-e-e-e-e-e!

Another version of this song, in the form of a vaudeville song called Sweet Maggie Gordon,[9] was published in New York from 1880.[10] The song tells a story of a man who is madly in love with a woman of this name and how he longs to be with her.[11]

In 1938, a song called Sweet Peggy Gordon was recorded by Herbert Halpert in Sloatsburg, New York. The name of the singer was Mort Montonyea.[12]

Folk song tradition[edit]

The song “Peggy Gordon” has been recorded by many artists. One of the first commercial recordings was by Canadian folk singer Alan Mills in 1959 on the album Canadian Folksong.[13] It was recorded by Charles Jordan on the 9-LP set Canadian Folk songs, A Centennial Collection in 1966, issued in 1967.[14][15] Also around this time it was recorded by Toronto folk singer Bonnie Dobson.[16]

The song was featured in the film The Proposition, sung by one of the Irish outlaws.

The Melvins’ cover of the song on their 2010 album, The Bride Screamed Murder, was described as "a serenely bizarre version of the Canadian folk song".[17]


External links[edit]

  • Maritime Folk Songs: from the Collection of Helen Creighton Maritime songs remembered by an older generation of Canadians, mainly from Nova Scotia.
  • Fowke, Edith (4 March 2015). "Anglo-Canadian Folk Music". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada.


  1. ^ Roud Index
  2. ^ Folkways FE 4307 (Maritime Folk Songs) by Grace Clergy from East Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada. July 1951
  3. ^ Edith Fowke Collection, Singer: Gooley, Bill, collected in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, July 1957
  4. ^ Creighton & Senior, Traditional Songs of Nova Scotia pp.193-195
  5. ^ Helen Creighton's Maritime Folk Songs, pp.74-75, "As sung by Dennis F. Murphy, the Irish Nightingale," Nova Scotia
  6. ^ "The Water Is Wide"The History Of A "Folksong",
  7. ^ Ludlow, Fitz-Hugh: The Primpenny Family, Chapter VI [p. 73], Vanity Fair. Volume 3, 1861
  8. ^ Ludlow, Fitz-Hugh: The Primpenny Family, Chapter VI [p. 75]
  9. ^ Sweet Maggie Gordon published by Mrs. Pauline Lieder (New York 1880)
  10. ^ New York Herald, Nov. 9, 1884
  11. ^ Peggy Gordon
  12. ^ Sweet Peggy Gordon / Mort Montonyea [sound recording], Library of Congress
  13. ^ Les Raftsmen - Canadian Folksong FTX-905
  14. ^ Hoover, Lynne; King, Betty Nygaard (4 March 2015). "Alan Mills". The Canadian Encyclopedia (online ed.). Historica Canada.
  15. ^ University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1967). "Canadian folk songs : a centennial collection, disc 5". Chansons folkloriques du Canada: collection du centenaire. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  16. ^ Bonnie Dobson - Vive La Canadienne (2010 re-issue),
  17. ^ Moorman, Trent (10 May 2011). "The Melvins Don't Give a Fuck About Chickens". Buzz Osborne Talks Hair Care, Vegetarians, Abortion, and Earthquakes. The Retrieved 22 May 2012.