The Dust Girls

Ballad of the Dust Girls

We sleep in the dust
Where the tin is rust
And feel the roots
About our feet.

We dance on these stones
And wake with the rook
We sing with the night
The moon in our eyes

Jane Berryman – I bought a dress I never wore, I loved a man I never saw
My name was Jane, And after kissed, Was never the same.
What I would have done
Who can say?
But now I watch the sun
Slip over the brea

Eliza Quick – I’m sweet Eliza Quick.
When I was taken sick,
My mother wept,
For I was not wed,
Though I dreamt of sleeping
In a bridal bed.

Mary Wilshaw –I was twenty six
When I closed my eyes
My baby with me
For her lullabies.

My husband Sam
He loved me well
Oh how he loved,
I cannot tell!

Other girls.
Oh Mary!
He’s man of God! Pray tell! 

No, I really can’t. There’s children about.

Elizabeth Mitchell – To know me was to love me
Or so it says,
I was twenty one
And hardly begun.

I’d just learnt love
Just been wed,
Then my Robby
Slept alone in his bed.

I rest now upon this hill,
But my sisters are with me still.
Oh we rest now upon this hill
But you my sisters are with me still.

Jane Berryman – Do you remember the fayres girls?
Whitsun and Cherry?
Do you remember the blossom Mary?
Pink and creamy white?
Do you remember the taste Jane,
That sweet fruit
That stained our lips?

Girls – We do!

Jane Berryman – Do you remember the ribbons girls?
How they flew in the wind?
Do your recall the bite Eliza
Of an apple on your tongue?

Girls – Only just Janey, Only just.

Jane B – Do you remember the Bal boys girls?
Who blinked like moles girls
In the morning sun?
Do you long for touch girls?
The sting of sea,
A body against yours?

Girls: We do Jane. We do.

Jane B – At least we lived girls,
At least we lived.
We breathed the air girls
We breathed the air.

We weren’t here long girls
We weren’t here long
But they sing our song girls
They sing our song.


The ‘Ballad of the Dust Girls’, featured in the ‘Until The Daybreak’ performance, draws on the stories of four young women who died in their twenties. Their graves were marked with coloured ribbons.

Lyrics by Anna Maria Murphy and music by Claire Ingleheart

. . . .


. . . .

Mary Wilshaw (c.1814 – 1840)

Mary Geach married Samuel Wilshaw, a Primitive Methodist minister originally from Staffordshire, in 1835. They settled in Redruth where Mary gave birth to two children – a daughter who died in infancy and is commemorated on the same gravestone as her mother, and a son, named after his father, who was less than a year old when Mary died.


. . . .

Elizabeth Mitchell (c.1798 – 1823)

A gentleman’s daughter, Elizabeth Hichens of Penhallick House wed young surgeon, Robert Deeble Mitchell in this church in January 1822.
The couple lived in fashionable Windsor where Robert was superintendent of the Windsor Royal General Dispensary, a charitable institution under the patronage of George IV that gave free medical treatment to the poor. Elizabeth died within two years of her wedding, and although Robert remarried, he never forgot his first love. When he died in Bourlogne, France, twenty years later he left instructions for his body to be brought to St Euny for burial so that he could be with his beloved. “To know her was to love.”


. . . .

Jane Berryman (c.1826 – 1851)

Little is known about Jane beyond that she was the daughter of James and Charity Berryman. She lived in North Sinns, North Country were her family had a small farm, although Jane’s father and older brother, Andrew, were also miners.


. . . .

Eliza Quick (c.1816 – 1837)

Any detail of Eliza Quick’s short life has proved even more elusive, but her memory lives on through her gravestone here at St Euny.