Author Topic: Add: The Beggar Man [Jolly Beggar]


Posted - 19 Feb 03 - 01:33 pm

Beggar Man, The

'Tis of a ragged beggar man, came tripping o'er the plain,
He came unto a farmer's door a lodging good to gain.

Chorus: ROm-be-low, zin-garee, Rom-be-low, be-low, be-low.

The farmer he came out to view, and looked the man around,
Said he, "For ragged beggar men, no shelter here is found."

The daughter saw the beggar man, and, moved with pity, she
Said "Father, sure this beggar man is other than you see!"

The daughter sent him to the barn, to make his bed in hay,
She made it soft an easy, that in comfort he might lay.

She went into her father's house, and fetched him bread and wine,
She gave him of her father's clothes, all silver laced and fine.

She locked him in, but when she went to let him out at dawn,
With wine and clothes, all laced and fine, the beggar man was gone.

Her father laughed a mocking laugh, "Thou art a silly fool,
To feed and clothe a beggar man that fasts and goeth cool."

Source: Baring-Gould, 1895, A Garland of Country Song, London, (reprinted Llanerch 1998)


Baring-Gould wrote:

This is a ballad known throughout England, Ireland and Scotland. It consists of ten stanzas' for good reasons we have been constrained to curtail it and modify two verses. The original will be found in "The Forsaken Lover's Garland," in a collection of early Garlands in the British Museum (1162, E. 1). The Scottish version has been tampered with by the Ballad manufacturers, who have not been able to resist the temptation of converting the ragged beggar man into King James V of Scotland. Indeed, Percy even attributes the composition to this king. Four stanzas have been tacked on for the purposes of turnin it into a Scottish semi-historical ballad; but the whole point of the story is lost thereby, which has its climax before we reach this addition. The Scottish doctored ballad is in Johnson's "Scot's Musical Museum," 1787-1803 II, p. 274; another version in the same, VI, p 582, and in Herd's "Scottish Ballads," 1791, p 164; an undoctored one i a Scottish broadside pinted at Aberdeen, "Curious Tracts," British Museum (1078, M 24). An Irish version is in Joyce's "Ancient Irish Music," 1873, no 44. He gives the first verse only. The Irish and Scottish airs differ from the English, of which we have taken down three variants, from William Setter, moorman, Dartmoor; J. Gerrard, workman, Collyhole, near Chagford; and James Parsons, hedger, Lew Down.

This is a thoroughly bowlerised version and certainly the versions commonly heard in folk clubs and recording bear little relation to this, beyond a common structure and introductory scene.

Database entry is here.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 19 Feb 03 - 02:04 pm

I only know the Planxty "Jolly Beggar" Version (love the way they followed it with the Wise Maid BTW):

It's of a jolly beggarman came tripping o'er the plain
He came unto a farmer's door a lodging for to gain
The farmer's daughter she came down and viewed him cheek and chin
She says, He is a handsome man. I pray you take him in

We'll go no more a roving, a roving in the night
We'll go no more a roving, let the moon shine so bright
We'll go no more a roving

He would not lie within the barn nor yet within the byre
But he would in the corner lie down by the kitchen fire
o then the beggar's bed was made of good clean sheets and hay
And down beside the kitchen fire the jolly beggar lay

The farmer's daughter she got up to bolt the kitchen door
And there she saw the beggar standing naked on the floor
He took the daughter in his arms and to the bed he ran
Kind sir, she says, be easy now, you'll waken our goodman

Now you are no beggar, you are some gentleman
For you have stolen my maidenhead and I am quite undone
I am no lord, I am no squire, of beggars I be one
And beggars they be robbers all, so you are quite undone

She took her bed in both her hands and threw it at the wall
Says "Go you with the beggarman, my maidenhead and all"


Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 19 Feb 03 - 05:24 pm

Roud 118 Child 279

James Reeves, The Everlasting Circle, 1960, pp. 215-6, prints a rather longer text, collated from the same sources. J. Gerrard's set appears in Palmer, Book of British Ballads, 1980, pp. 225-6.

At Bruce Olson's site; Roots of Folk: Old English, Scots, and Irish Songs and Tunes:

The Pollitick Begger-Man. (unexpurgated version)

At Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The beggar man

The jolly beggar

Planxty learned the song from Stephen Sedley's book The Seeds of Love (1967). As usual, this was a collation from a number of sources; Sedley noted "The text given here is a collation of the oldest of [the English versions] (a rather flat chapbook version c.1730) with a similar but better set collected by Baring-Gould in Devon and a broadside printed by Kendrew of York c.1820. The tune is the best known of the Scots melodies."

Planxty omit one verse, and double up the remainder between choruses.


Posted - 02 Jul 03 - 09:49 am

Jolly Beggar, The

The was a jolly beggar, and a-begging he was bound,
And he took up his quarters into a land'art town.
And we'll gang nae mair a roving,
Sae late into the night,
And we'll gang nae more a roving,
Let the moon shine ne'er sae bright,
And we'll gang nae mair a roving.

He wad neither ly in barn, nor yet wad he in byre,
But in ahint the ha' door, or else afore the fire.

The beggar's bed was made at e'en wi' good clean straw and hay,
And in ahint the ha' door, and there the beggar lay.

Up raise the goodman's dochter, and for to bar the door,
And there she saw the beggar standin' i' the floor.

He took the lassie in his arms, and to the bed he ran,
"O hooly, hooly wi' me, Sir, ye'll waken our goodman."

The beggar was a cunnin' loon, and ne'er a word he spake,
Until he got his turn done, syne he began to crack.

"Is there ony dogs into this town, Maiden, tell me true?"
"And what wad ye do wi' them, my hinny and my dow?"

"They'll rive a' my mealpocks, and do me meikle wrang."
"O dool for the doing o't, are ye the poor man?"

Then she took up the mealpocks and flang them o'er the wa',
"The deil gae with the mealpocks, my maidenhead and a'.

"I took ye for some gentleman, at least the Laird of Brodie;
O dool for the doing o't! are ye the poor bodie?"

He took the lassie in his arms, and gae her kisses three,
And four-and-twenty hunder mark to pay the nurice fee.

He took the horn frae his side, and blew both loud and shrill
And four-and-twenty belted knights cam skipping o'er the hill.

And he took out his little knife, loot a' his duddies fa',
And he was the brawest gentleman that was amang them a'.

The beggar was a cliver loon, and he lap shoulder height,
"O ay for sicken quaters as I gat yesternight."

Source: Milner D and Kaplan P, 1983, Songs of England, Ireland and Scotland, Oak, New York


Milner reported he had taken this song from The Scots Musical Museum by J Johnson.

There are two main branches of this song, identical except for the ending where the beggar is, or is not, a gentleman.

Database entry is here.

Edited By dmcg - 02/07/2003 10:00:15


Posted - 02 Jul 03 - 03:29 pm

Jon, I have a recording of the Planxty version. It's the only one I know too. I love it.


Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 02 Jul 03 - 04:01 pm

That text and tune are the first of the two that Baring Gould referred to as appearing in SMM (III, 1790, 274, No. 266). The second is The Poor Pedlar (VI, 1803, 582, No. 564) and is really a quite different story.

The SMM tune is the one to which Sedley set his collated English text, which Planxty subsequently recorded. Dan Milner has transposed it down four tones.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 02 Jul 03 - 04:18 pm

If I can be forgiven a little bit of drift. Jenny I don't know which album you have but maybe, like me, you have Planxty - Planxty. It still ranks as one of my favourites.


Posted - 03 Jul 03 - 04:53 am

Jon, I only have a tape of it now, cos I borrowed the CD from my son, and unfortunately he asked for it back. I believe it was actually called Shanachie. Definitely one of my favourites, too. What other songs are on yours?

I play it in the car a lot - it seems like good travelling music - cheers me up as I bounce along. When I visited Ireland a few years ago I had it with me and played it in the rental car. Maybe it's about time I invested in some more Planxty. I could do with some cheering up!


Jon Freeman

Posted - 03 Jul 03 - 05:07 am

Found this Jenny. Same album (or a least tracks) by the looks of things.


Posted - 03 Jul 03 - 05:29 am

Yes Jon. It does look like the same one - same tracks, and even the CD cover looks familiar, from what I remember. Mystery solved!



Posted - 03 Jul 03 - 05:39 am

On the other side of my tape, I have another good album called Trad at Heart, an excellent compilation album. I particularly liked Begley and Cooney, and it was a real highlight to see them in Canberra at the National Folk Festival a couple or 3 years ago, and even a bigger thrill to actually sit in on a session with Seamus Begley.

I don't know how to do blue clickies on this forum, but here:


Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 03 Jul 03 - 05:46 am

Polydor 2383 186 (1973) in the UK. I think Shanachie released it in the States. I bought a bouzouki on the strength of it, but in those days you could only get Greek ones (the "Irish" bouzouki, like the Irish trombone -it's only a matter of time!- had not yet been invented) and the neck, made of cheap Greek wood, and really only intended for three courses of strings, eventually fell off. It had a nice sound, though, particularly when played in an open tuning (Dave Richardson recommended GDAD, if I remember correctly, but I used ADAD; obviously a good choice as so many other people have since used it) and used to surprise people in folk clubs who had never seen one before.

Alan Ng's site seems to be getting more useful than it used to be, but he needs to accept that not all music in the world is Irish. I note that, while he gives quite detailed references now to the Irish material on the first Planxty album, he fails even to mention that The Blacksmith is English, and The Jolly Beggar is Anglo-Scots.

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z