The Pretty Ploughboy (Kenneth Peacock)

See also: The Jolly Ploughboy (W Roy Mackenzie)

It's of a pretty ploughboy
went whistling on his plough
Whilst his horses stood all into the shade,
Down by some shady grove
where his heavy plough he drove
It was there that he spied
a fair pretty maid, a maid, a maid,
It was there that he spied
a fair pretty maid.

Oh this was the song
that he sang then all along:
"Oh fair maiden of higher degree,
If I in love should fall
and my parents should know it all,
They would surely send me
far across the sea, the sea, the sea.
They would surely send me
far across the sea."

Oh when his agèd father
came that all for to know
Soon the ploughboy was
ploughing over the main,
For the press gang came one day
and they pressed my love away,
And they sent him down into the war
to be slain, be slain, be slain,
And they sent him down into the war
to be slain.

She dressed herself all in her best,
her riches they did shine,
And her pocket was well-filled with gold.
See how she trod the street
while the tears fell at her feet,
She's lamenting for her
jolly sailor bold, so bold, so bold,
She's lamenting for her jolly sailor bold.

The first one she did meet
was the commander of the fleet.
"Sir, have you seen my
pretty ploughboy?" she cried,
"He's just across the deep,
he's a-sailing in the fleet."
And he said, "My fair pretty maid,
will you ride, a-ride, a-ride?"
And he said, "My fair pretty maid,
will you ride"

My pretty ploughboy so gay
now in my arms he lays,
Where I ofttimes have
had him there before.
We'll set those bells to ring,
we'll so merrily dance and sing,
For I can enjoy that lad
whom I adore, adore, adore,
For I can enjoy that lad whom I adore.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of British broadside ballads, The Jolly Plowboy (Little Plowing Boy; The Simple Plowboy) [Laws M24] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a late 18th-century British broadside ballad, The Pretty Plough Boy, published by Burbage and Stretton (Nottingham) sometime between 1797 and 1807 and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 12(135) ....####
This variant was collected in 1961 by Kenneth Peacock from Mrs Mary Ann Galpin [1872-1962] of Codroy, NL, and published as The Pretty Ploughboy in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 1, pp.225-225, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Peacock noted that though shorter than some other variants, this Newfoundland version of The Pretty Ploughboy was one of the most charming he had ever seen. Particularly unusual was the old device of internal repetition used to good effect in such diverse ballads as Captain Kidd and The 'Greenland' Disaster. Peacock also noted that variants had been collected in Nova Scotia by Roy Mackenzie and Helen Creighton, and a variant from the southern Appalachians had been recorded by Cecil Sharp. However, he pointed out, the song seems to have been much more popular in England and Scotland than on this side of the Atlantic.

A variant was collected from Mrs James Campbell by William Roy Mackenzie [1883-1957] and published as The Jolly Ploughboy in Ballads And Sea Songs From Nova Scotia (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1928).


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