Author Topic: Add: The Thresher and the Squire


Posted - 06 Apr 03 - 09:46 am

Thresher and the Squire, The

'Tis of a bold thresherman lived down by the country side,
Who for his wife and family daily did provide,
He'd sixteen in his family, and most of them were small;
And by his daily labour he provided for them all.

As this poor man was returning from his labour one day.
He met a wealthy squire who thus to him did say;
"O thresherman! O thresherman! will you kindly tell to me
How you maintain your wife, and your large family?"

"I arise, Sir, every morning, at the break of the day,
I work like a slave, all for the smallest of pay,
And from hedging or from ditching to the milking of a cow,
There's nothing comes amiss to me from the harrow to the plough.

"When I go home at night, Sir, as tired as can be,
The youngest of my family he sits upon my knee;
And all the rest come prattling round me as I sing with joy,
And this is all the comfort that a poor man can enjoy.

"There's my wife, gentle creature, as faithful as can be,
We live like two turtledoves and never disagree.
But still the times grow harder, and I am very poor,
I hardly know how to keep the wolf from the door."

"Now since you have spoken so well of your wife,
I'll make you live happy the rest of your life,
Here's sixty acres of good land I'll freely give to thee,
To maintain your wife and your large family."

Source: Broadwood, Lucy, 1893, English County Songs, Leadenhall Press, London


Lucy Broadwood wrote:

A version of the words called "The Nobleman and the Thresherman" is in Bell's Songs of the Pesantry. See also Sussex Songs, where another tune is given. Cappell, in Popular Music of Olden Time, gives a tune similar to this as "We are poor frozen-out gardeners." This tune is a variant of "Lazarus."

(Note: Lazarus has many tunes. The one referred to is often called "The Star of the County Down". See the Lazarus discussion thread for more information.
See the related songs for the Copper Family version of the tune. This may be the tune referred to in Sussex Songs - can someone confirm that?

Database entry for this song is here and for the Copper version is here.

Edited By dmcg - 06/04/2003 09:52:31

Edited By dmcg - 03-Mar-2004 11:35:45 AM

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 06 Apr 03 - 05:30 pm

Roud 19.

A popular song found pretty well everywhere, under many titles: The Honest Labourer; The Jolly Thresher; The Hedger; Squire and Thrasher; The Nobleman's Generous Kindness; and so on. Scarcely any folk song collector seems to have failed to find at least one set.

The text in Bell's Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England can be seen at

The Nobleman's Generous Kindness

That text is collated from an unidentified source and a broadside issued by Robert Marchbank of Newcastle, who was active in the mid 18th century. A set with music appeared in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum vol IV, no. 372, 1792.

The set in H. F. Birch Reynardson's Sussex Songs (1889) is not the Copper Family version (they were "discovered" by Kate Lee in 1898). The book re-prints the contents of G. A. Dusart and John Broadwood's Songs of the Peasantry of the Weald of Surrey and Sussex (1843), together with some additional songs collected by the Rev Broadwood's renowned niece, Lucy. The material is currently available in Lewis Jones' Sweet Sussex: Folk Songs fom the Broadwood Collections (1995): Ferret Publications.

Broadside examples at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

Squire and Thrasher[man]

Generous Gift

Good Lord Fauconbridge's generous gift

The above appear to be mostly 19th century, but there are also two copies of an edition printed for P. Brooksby, at the Sign of the Golden-Ball, in Pye-Corner, between 1672 and 1696:

The noble-mans generous kindness, or The country-man's unexpected happiness

This would appear to be the earliest example known at present. The tune specified, The Two English Travellers, is lost.

Edited By Malcolm Douglas - 06/04/2003 18:04:19

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