In 1720 an English writer, John Gay, published a ballad about a young maiden named Black-eyed Susan who goes on board a ship in the harbor to find her lover, Sweet William. After she finds him in a glorious reunion she is told by the ship’s captain she must leave the ship. The ballad dramatizes the bittersweet parting of Black-eyed Susan and Sweet William and became a popular legend of love in English literature.
When the English colonists came to our shores and saw the beautiful golden flowers with dark conical centers they called the flowers black-eyed Susan’s. The name Sweet William has also been given to another flower. In fact, when Prince William and Catherine Middleton were married, the bridal bouquet included Sweet William flowers.