> Folk Music > Songs > Roger’s Courtship / Jan’s Courtship

Roger’s Courtship / Jan’s Courtship

[ Roud 575 ; Master title: Roger’s Courtship ; G/D 4:760 ; Henry H820 ; Ballad Index HHH520 ; GlosTrad Roud 575 ; Mudcat 169318 ; trad.]

Sabine Baring-Gould, Henry Fleetwood Sheppard: Songs of the West Gale Huntington: Sam Henry’s Songs of the People Frank Purslow: Marrow Bones

Archer Goode sang Jan’s Courtship to Gwilym Davies at Ryeworth Road, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, in January 1975. This track was included in 2020 on the Musical Traditions anthology of songs from the Gwilym Davies collection, Catch It, Bottle It, Paint It Green, which accompanied his book of the same name. Another 1975 recording by Mike Yates and/or Gwilym Davies was included in 2001 on the Veteran anthology Down in the Fields. Mike Yates noted:

Originally a 17th century song titled Come Hither My Dutiful Son, and Take Counsel of Me, which John Gay alludes to in his Beggar’s Opera of 1728 (Act III, Scene VIII). By the 1820’s it had become known as Poor Bob and, as such, was included in The Universal Songster, a three volume collection of folk and popular songs. This is one of the songs that Archer learnt from [the Ilmington Morris dancer] Sam Bennett. It seems to have been influenced by the word set published by the Reverend Sabine Baring Gould in his Songs of the West (revised edition, 1905).


Archer Goode sings Jan’s Courtship

“Come listen son Jan, now thou art a man,
I’ll give thee best counsel in life.
Come sit down by me and my story shall be
I’ll tell how to get thee a wife,
Yes I will, man I will, sure I will
And I’ll tell how to get thee a wife.”

“Thyself thee must dress in thy Sunday go best,
They’ll first turn away and be shy.
But boldly thou kiss each pretty maid that thou see’st
They’ll call thee their love by and by
Yes they will, man they will, sure they will
And they’ll call thee their love by and by.”

So a-courting Jan goes, in his Sunday best clothes,
All trimmed, nothing tattered nor torn.
From the top to the toe with a bright yellow rose,
He looked like a gentleman born
Yes ‘e did, man ‘e did, sure ‘e did
And he looked like a gentleman born.

The first pretty lass that Jan did see pass
Was a farmer’s fat daughter named Grace.
He’d scarce said “How do?” and a fine word or two,
When her fetched him a slap in the face
Yes, ‘er did, man ‘er did, sure ‘er did
And ‘er fetched him a slap in the face.

Now Jan never caring of nothing at all
Was a-walking one day by the lock.
He kissed parson’s wife, which caused such a strife,
And Jan was put into the stocks
Yes he was, man he was, sure he was
And Jan was put into the stocks.

“If this be the way to get me a wife,”
Thinks Jan, “then I’ll never have none.
I’d sooner stop single the whole of me life,
And home to me mammy I’ll run
Yes I will, man I will, sure I will
And home to me mammy I ‘ll run.”