Author Topic: Add: Whilst The Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping

Jon Freeman

Posted - 05 Feb 04 - 10:17 am

This one is an attempt by me to work from a text submitted to me by Daine and from a recording of the same song to get the tune. I hope it works out OK.

Whilst The Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping
O I?ve got a dog and a good dog too
And I keeps him in my keeping
For to catch those hares that run by night
Whilst the gamekeepers lie sleeping

My dog and me went out one night
For to learn some education
Up jumps a hare and away she ran
Into a large plantation

She had not gone so very far
Before something stopped her running,
O Aunt! O Aunt! /One leap from a dog/ she loudly cried,
Stop a minute, your Uncle's coming!

Oh I took out my little penknife
And quickly I did paunch her,
She turned out one of the female kind
I?m mighty glad I caught her

I picked her up and I smoothed her down
And I put her in my keeping
And I said to my dog ?It's time to be going
Whilst the gamekeepers are still sleeping

Me and my dog went to the town,
And sold the hare to a labouring man
And I sold him for a crown.

We the went to some public house
And there we got well mellow;
For we spent that crown and another one too,
Don't you think I'm a good-hearted fellow?

(repeat 1st verse)

Source: Chris Woods

Chris Woods took this version from "Folk songs of Old Hampshire, coll Geoge Gardiner Marchwood 1907" and has altered it slightly. The odd verse with only 3 lines is correct.

The tune/abc is my best attempt at transcribing the song from a recording made by Chris Woods and Andy Cutting. In the actual performance, some notes do vary from verse to verse.

Added to database here.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 05 Feb 04 - 10:20 am

Here is another varient of the song I was given:


I had a long-legged lurcher dog,
I kept her in me keeping.
She'd flush out hare, on a moonlit night,
While the gamekeepers lie sleeping,
While the gamekeepers lie sleeping.

One day the policeman collared me,
To have me in his keeping.
Your brindle made a moonlit raid,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping.

I seen her come out of the wood,
Across the fields a-speeding.
A partridge she had in her mouth,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping.

But my dog's black and white you see,
So I'm not for your keeping.
He couldn't see, I'd brindled she,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping.

One day his wife fell mortal ill,
He had to give up p'licing.
But I dropped one bird on his door each night,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping.

Now she fared so well upon pheasant broth,
Her colour come back creeping.
So long as my bitch roamed abroad,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping,
While the gamekeepers lay sleeping.

Now the bitch she pupped and I given him one,
To have in his own keeping.
Now he's left the force, and he roams wi' me,
While the gamekeepers lie sleeping,
While gamekeepers lie sleeping.

(Mike Waterson?s version)


Posted - 05 Feb 04 - 10:27 am

Does anyone know what this Aunt/Uncle business is about? I've heard it in several versions (which might derive from a common source), but means nothing to me.

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 05 Feb 04 - 04:17 pm

I think that some confusion may have arisen over the source reference here. The book in question is presumably John Paddy Browne's Folk Songs of Old Hampshire (Horndean: Milestone Publications, 1987). The collector would be Dr George Gardiner. Marchwood is the place where the song was noted. I don't have Browne's book, but a collated set appears in Frank Purslow, Marrowbones, London: EFDS 1965, 36. The Gardiner Collection references are H. 651: Chas. Bull, Marchwood, Southampton, June 1907; and H. 1134: Jas. Ray ("a 21 year old gipsy") Petersfield, Hampshire, August 1908.

Presumably the set under consideration here is Mr Bull's.

The question of transcribing from recordings made by revival performers is a complicated one; as a rule these are not in themselves "traditional versions" of songs, but either arrangements of songs from other sources (sometimes, but not always, "traditional" ones) or sets modified or collated from other, sometimes quite disparate, sources. As such, they generally have nothing to tell us about the background of a song, and are frequently misleading in that they give people the impression that they are hearing "the real thing".

That said, there is a good argument, I think, for such transcriptions; on the grounds that people will tend to learn songs from well-known performers and their records rather than going back to traditional sources and making their own assessments. That being the case, these modified arrangements may quickly circulate far enough for their immediate origins to be forgotten. A record of the process which gives a proper provenance and due credit to the singers and collectors from whom the new "version" was derived may be very useful in keeping track of what happens.

However, it is also important, I think, to place the source form alongside the modern derivation. Here is Mr Bull's tune, as printed by Frank Purslow:

T:Gamekeepers lie Sleeping
S:Chas. Bull, Marchwood, Southampton, June 1907
Z:Dr George B Gardiner (words)
B:Frank Purslow, Marrowbones, EFDS Publications 1965, 36
N:Gardiner H651 Roud 363
N:Time signature approximate only.
"Very freely"
D2|GA B3 G/G/|AB c3 F|GG B3 A|AG-G2
w:I got a dog and a good dog too, I keeps him in my keep-ing,_
BB|cd (ed) B2|dB (GF)
w:For to catch those hares_ that run by night,_
D3/2D/|GB d3 F|AG-G2|]
w:Whilst the game-keep-ers lay sleep-ing._

I don't have a reference at present as to which of Gardiner's collaborators noted the tune. The song itself has remained in currency; George "Pop" Maynard and Wiggy Smith, for example, both sang it, and it continues in the repertoire of the Copper family.

Number 363 in the Roud Folk Song Index.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 05 Feb 04 - 06:00 pm

Malcolm, do you think the version you have should be a db entry? I've updated the notes in the db.


diane easby

Posted - 05 Feb 04 - 10:45 pm

The first version Jon has posted is the one Chris Wood sings on 'Knock John' with Andy Cutting. It follows closely the text in 'Folk songs of Old Hampshire' which notes that Geoge Gardiner collected it in Marchwood, Hampshire in 1907.

Chris deviates only slightly from this text. He definitely sings ?while? throughout? where the book says ?whilst?, as is the title. On Knock John the more usual title 'while' is used. Other differences are minor.

In verse 3 , Chris sings 'one leap from a dog' which makes a lot more sense than the usual 'aunt' business. I don't know what his source (if any) is for this but as I will see him tomorrow, I'll ask.

The Copper family version which Malcolm mentions appears in A Song For Every Season as 'Dogs and Ferrets. It has a different feel, being taken a lot slower (though the Coppers have speeded all their songs up a bit!), and they do it in 3/2 time while the song is more usually done in 5/4.

The second version which Jon has posted is Mike Waterson's and I know no more about it other than that he always described it as a Yorkshire song. His brother-in-law Martin Carthy's version of the variant 'Hares in the Old Plantation' is different again.

It's a song which crops up all over the country, the chief differences being whether it's hares or game birds that are being 'repossessed' and whether the illness and recovery of the policeman's wife and his subsequent conversion to poaching figures or not, but I expect Malcolm can give chapter and verse on the origins of the variants.

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 06 Feb 04 - 04:01 am

Mike's set seems to have been learned from Bob Roberts of the Isle of Wight, which isn't all that near to Yorkshire, really. Other forms of the song have been found in Yorkshire, of course; but not, so far as I can tell, that one.

diane easby

Posted - 06 Feb 04 - 08:46 am

If anybody spots a geezer in a flat cap maybe they could pin him down on where he really got the song from...

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