We’ve updated our Terms of Use to reflect our new entity name and address. You can review the changes here.
We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

Glenn Ohrlin, vocal and guitar - My Bonny Black Bess

from Survey of Traditional Music, Vol. 1: From British Tradition by Field Recorders' Collective



For an in-depth discussion of this track, see the album notes: tinyurl[dot]com/V1NATnotes.


When Fortune’s blind goddess had fled my abode,
And friends proved unfaithful, I took to the road.
To plunder the wealthy and relieve my distress,
I bought you to aid me, my bonny Black Bess.

No wild whip or spur did your sides ever gall.
You needed them not, you’d bound at my call.
For each act of kindness you would me caress.
Thou art never unfaithful, my bonny Black Bess.

When dark sable midnight her mantle had thrown
O’er the bright face of nature, many times we have gone
To the famed Hounslow heath, though an unwelcome guest
To the minions of fortune, my bonny Black Bess.

How gentle you’d stand as the stages I’d stop.
Down to me their money and the jewelry they’d drop.
We’d never rob a poor man or ever oppress
Any widows or orphans, my bonny Black Bess.

When auger-eyed (i.e., Argus-eyed) Justice did hot me pursue
From Yorktown to London like lightning we flew.
No toll gates would stop us, high waters we’d breast.
In eight hours we made it, my bonny Black Bess.

But hate darkens o’er me, despair is my lot.
The law does pursue me for many I’ve shot.
To save me, my friend, you have done your best.
You’re worn out and weary, my bonny Black Bess.

Oh, hark, hear the hounds, they never shall have
A friend like you, so noble and brave.
You must die, my dumb friend, though it does me distress.
There, I’ve shot you, my bonny Black Bess.

They never can say ingratitude dwells
In the breast of Dick Turpin there never was felt.
Now I’m surrounded, soon be at rest,
Once more I’ll be with my bonny Black Bess.


from Survey of Traditional Music, Vol. 1: From British Tradition, released August 7, 2023
Recorded by Mark Wilson, Mountain View, AR, 12/96.


all rights reserved



Field Recorders' Collective

The Field Recorders’ Collective is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and distribution of noncommercial recordings of traditional American music, material that is unavailable to the general public.

contact / help

Contact Field Recorders' Collective

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Report this track or account

If you like My Bonny Black Bess, you may also like: