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O the Ploughboy was a ploughing
With his horses on the plain.
And was singing of song as on went he.
"Since that I have fall'n in love,
If the parents disapprove,
'Tis the first thing that will send me to the sea"

When the parents came to know
That their daughter loved him so,
Then the sent a gang, and pressed him for the sea.
And they made of him a tar.
To be slain in the cruel war;
Of the simple Ploughboy singing on the lea.

The maiden sore did grieve,
And without a word of leave,
From her father's house she fled secretlie,
In male attire dress'd,
With a star upon her breast,
All to seek her simple Ploughboy on the sea.

Then she walked o'er hill and plain,
and she walked in wind and rain,
Till she came to the brink of the blue sea.
Saying, "I am forced to rove.
For the loss of my true love,
Who is but a simple Plougboy from the lea,"

Now the first she did behold
O it was a sailor bold,
"Have you seen my simple ploughboy?" then said she.
"They have press'd him to the fleet,
Sent him tossing on the deep,
Who is but a simple Ploughboy from the lea."

Then she went to the Captain,
And to him she made complain,
"O a silly Ploughboy's run away from me!"
Then the captain smiled and said.
"Why Sir! surely you're a maid!
So the Ploughboy I will render up to thee."

Then she pulled out a store,
Of five hundred crowns and more,
And she strewed them on the deck, did she,
Then she took him by the hand.
And she rowed him to the land,
Where she wed the simple Ploughboy back from the sea.

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Source: Songs Of The West, S Baring Gould

Baring Gould notes:
This charming ballad was taken down, words and music, from J. Masters, Bradstone. The Broadside versions that were published by Fortey, Hodges, Taylor of Spitalfields, Ringham of Lincoln, and Partt of Birmingham, are all very corrupt. The version of old Masters is given exactly as he sang it, and it is but one instance out of many of the superiority of the ballads handed down traditionally in the country by unlettered men, to those picked up from the ballad-mongers employed by the Broadside publishers.

A version of this song, "It's of a Pretty Ploughboy," is given in the Folk-Song Journal, vol i. p. 132 as taken down in Sussex. The words are very corrupt, and they closely resemble those on the Broadsides.

Another widespread song; most collectors seem to have found examples of it. It also appears as The Jolly Ploughboy and The Pretty Ploughboy, and was much-printed on broadsides under the latter name. Of those mentioned by Baring Gould, the following can be seen at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

The pretty plough boy Printed between 1858 and 1885 at the "Catnach Press," by W.S. Fortey, Monmouth Court, Bloomsbury [London]. Harding B 11(3164)

The pretty ploughboy Printed c.1850 by Wm. Pratt, 82, Digbeth, Birmingham. Printer's Series: (376). Johnson Ballads 1450

There are also editions by Haly of Cork, W. Jackson of Birmingham, H. Such of London, H. Disley of London, C. Paul of London, J.O. Bebbington of Manchester, J. Catnach of London, J. Harkness of Preston, and J. Pitts of London. Probably the earliest example at the Bodleian is

The pretty plough boy. A favourite new song Printed between 1797 and 1807 by Burbage & Stretton of Nottingham. Harding B 12(135)

The Pretty Plough Boy, printed by J. Jennings of Sheffield (n.d.), is a different song.

Roud: 186 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Laws: M24

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