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Bride (1908–1999) and Patsy Judge (ca. 1912–1989)

Nlresize Judges Ebenoit Rowlings
Bride (sitting) and Patsy Judge (right) with song collector Hugh “Hoodie” Rowlings (standing) and legendary Port au Port Peninsula fiddler Émile Benoît (left). The group were photographed in folklorist Kenneth Goldstein’s house in St John’s during the 1976 or ‘77 Folk Festival in Bannerman Park (photo by Hugh “Hoodie” Rowlings, provided courtesy Aidan O’Hara; used with permission).

Bride Judge was born in Patrick’s Cove to Andrew and Celina Miller. She left school in sixth grade—she was about 12-years-old—to go and care for her aunt and uncle in Gooseberry Cove. Her uncle, James Doyle, was a whistle player and singer, and the source of much of Bride’s music.

Also of Patrick’s Cove, Patsy Judge was orphaned when he was only six weeks old. He was adopted and raised by members of his extended family. Patsy, like Bride, learned his music on visits to the Doyle household in Gooseberry. These visits provided opportunities for a bit of courting along with the music: Bride and Patsy eventually married on 1 January 1936.

Patsy had many jobs throughout his life. He was a fisherman and, like many men from the region, worked for the Department of Highways in Newfoundland. He also sailed on the Canadian National Railway’s coastal boats; he was based out of Argentia, and his routes ran along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador and across the Gulf of St Lawrence.

Bride and Patsy’s home in Patrick’s Cove included vegetable gardens, farm animals (cattle, sheep, and horses), and hayfields. Cutting the hay was accomplished by hand, a task that Aidan O’Hara caught on camera when he interviewed Patsy for The Forgotten Irish documentary (Radharc, 1981).

Nlresize Haymaking
Haymaking in Point Lance, the southern-most community of the Cape Shore, 1977 (photo courtesy of Aidan O’Hara; used with permission).
Nlresize Haymaking

Haymaking in Point Lance, the southern-most community of the Cape Shore, 1977 (photo courtesy of Aidan O’Hara; used with permission).

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Bride and Patsy had five children, two of whom survived infancy. They also fostered eighteen other children and adopted two. Their home was regularly full of music and people. Indeed, their daughter Florence Coffey once commented:

The house was a place to have a cup of tea, have a party, have a scoff … The door was open to everyone. We had two people stay three nights and Mom didn’t know them and Dad didn’t know them and we don’t know yet who they are. Anyone who knocked on the door got fed or a bed if they needed.
Florence Coffey on Patsy & Bride Judge (Quoted in Sullivan 2006:90)
Patsy Judge and friends on stage at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Len Penton, photographer
Patsy Judge and friends on stage at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Len Penton, photographer
 
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Patsy Judge and friends on stage at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Len Penton, photographer

Patsy Judge on stage with two other musicians at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival. Left to right: Andy Samuelson, Patsy Judge, and Bill Bowman.

Patsy Judge and friends on stage at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Len Penton, photographer

Patsy Judge and friends on stage at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Len Penton, photographer

© Aidan O'Hara

The Judges also performed further afield. During the mid-1970s, folklorist Wilf Wareham took them to Ottawa to perform at the National Arts Centre. And within Newfoundland they were regulars on folk festival stages throughout the province. The Judges performed publicly until the 1980s when Patsy’s health went into decline.


Listen

In Yorkshire city / Bride Judge

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In Yorkshire city / Bride Judge

In Yorkshire city, song (Oh, in Yorkshire city there dwelled a maiden …) This murder ballad tells the tale of a woman who falls in love with her father’s servant. He poisons her when she declines his proposal, and then, stricken by remorse, he kills himself. The song exists in many variant versions of the lyrics; it is also known as “Oxford city,” “The cup of poison,” “The jealous lover,” or, simply, “Jealousy.”  The melody given here is used also for other songs performed by Cape Shore singers.

The lady in the east / Bride Judge

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The lady in the east / Bride Judge

The lady in the east, song (There was a lady in the east …) This broadside ballad tells a tale of murder and heartbreak. A young woman falls in love with her father’s clerk; she persists with the romance despite her father’s objections. Her father then shoots her and her lover commits suicide. In Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3, Kenneth Peacock observes that this ballad seems to have survived mainly in Atlantic Canada (1965:726–8).

The forest was covered in bushes / Patsy Judge

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The forest was covered in bushes / Patsy Judge

The forest was covered in bushes, song (One night as the moon it shone bright and shone clear …) Elsewhere this song is known as “The False-hearted lover,” “A week before Easter,” and “The false bride.” It tells the story of a man whose sweetheart marries someone else. The protagonist witnesses the marriage and consummation before announcing that he will die of a broken heart. The text was published as a broadside as early as 1690; it was recorded widely during the 20th century.

The fair Fanny Moore / Patsy Judge

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The fair Fanny Moore / Patsy Judge

The fair Fanny Moore, song (Yonder stands a cottage all deserted and alone...) This murder ballad most likely has its origins in the Irish or English broadside presses, though it is much more commonly heard in North American contexts. Newfoundland song scholar Anna Kearney Guigné speculates that the song gained “new life in the New World through its dissemination by way of oral tradition in such contexts as the lumber camps alongside such media as print and recordings” (2016:122).  In other versions of this song, the wealthy suitor is named Randal and Fanny’s true love (a poor shepherd) is named Henry. In Patsy’s version of the song, the names are used interchangeably; it seems probable that this was simply a memory slip.

Conversation about music for dancing and types of dances / Patsy Judge & Bride Judge

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Conversation about music for dancing and types of dances / Patsy Judge & Bride Judge

Patsy Judge performs several examples of “cheek” or “gob” music (i.e., dance music performed with the voice only), simultaneously explaining where these tunes were most likely to appear within the set dance.  The examples appear in the following order: “There was an old woman” (jig), “Tatter Jack Walsh” (jig), “All the way to Connickmore” (single), “Haste to the wedding” (jig), “The girl I left behind me” (single), “Girls in the salthouse” (single), “Mother wouldn’t beat him” (single), “Irishman’s shanty” (single), “Pop goes the weasel” (jig), “Green grow the rushes-o” (reel).

Brennan on the moor / Patsy Judge

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Brennan on the moor / Patsy Judge

Brennan on the moor, song (It's of a fearless highwayman the truth to you I'll tell …) Probably of Irish origin, this broadside ballad tells the story of folk hero and highwayman Willie Brennan, who was tried and hanged in Clonmel in 1804. Some versions of this song place Brennan in the mountains near Limerick; other versions depict Brennan on the highways of North Cork and South Tipperary.  Patsy Judge’s version references the Comeragh Mountains, perhaps a nod to the ancestry of the people of the Cape Shore, whose origins were mainly in Ireland’s southeast.


Further Reading

“Bridget (Bridie) Judge.” The Globe and Mail (15 November 1999).

McCarthy, Dermod (dir.). 1981. The Forgotten Irish. Radharc documentary. Reported by Aidan O'Hara, recorded by Donal Wylde and Pat Hayes. Dublin: RTÉ. 

Placentia Bay Historical Society, and The Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place. N.d. “Bride Judge.” Voices of Placentia: Songs, Stories and Tunes from around Placentia Bay

Sullivan, Joan. 2006. “Bridget (Bridie) Judge, 1908–1999.” In Newfoundland Portfolio: A History in Portraits, 88–90. St John’s, NL: Jesperson Publishing. Walsh, Agnes. 2011. Answer Me Home: Plays from Tramore Theatre. Newfoundland: Breakwater Books.