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Old Adam / When Adam Was First Created

[ Roud 12887 ; Bodleian Roud 12887 ; Wiltshire 39 ; trad.]

Alfred Williams collected Old Adam Was a Gentleman from Elizabeth A. Bond of Faringdon, Berkshire. Fay Hield sang this version of Old Adam in 2016 as the title track of her third album, Old Adam.


Fay Hield sings Old Adam

Old Adam was the first man formed, this everybody knows,
He never paid his tailor’s bill because he wore no clothes;
No soft kid gloves upon his hand, as you may well suppose,
No shirt nor collar round his neck, nor shoes to hide his toes.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
When Adam delved and Eve she span
Who was then the gentleman?

He neither rent nor taxes paid, nor duns came to his door;
And he’d enough of meat and drink, and some left for the poor.
But then the poor were not yet born nor either were the great,
No thieves nor rogues had he to fear, he never locked his gate.

His time passed easy on the wing, he lived a frugal life,
Nor quarrelled he with anyone unless it was his wife.
He never once example took of other people’s ways
And he never went to routes or balls, to playhouse or to plays.

His wife unlike our women now in frills or bows ne’er dressed,
Nor had she tasted gin nor tea, and was not Adam blessed?
Her neighbours she ne’er scandalised nor treated them with scorn,
She was the jewel of women found because none else were born.

He lived unto a good old age, without any care or strife,
And when his days had run their course, alas, poor Adam died.
Without a good oak coffin there they laid him in the clay,
And never were they once afraid of his being stole away.