> Folk > Songs > The Butcher and the Parson

The Butcher and the Parson

[ Roud 17188 ; Mudcat 135164 ; trad.]

Nick Dow: Southern Songster

Frank Purslow and John Pearse sang The Butcher and the Parson on their 1960 album of “English folk songs that Miss Pringle never taught us”, Rap-a-Tap-Tap.

The Druids sang The Butcher and the Parson in 1971 on their Argo album Burnt Offering. They noted:

A West Country song which embellishes the common theme of the eternal triangle by making it into a quadrilateral. The use of the parson as a figure of mild ridicule dated from the earliest times. There is a similar story in Boccaccio’s Decameron.

In 2011, Gurney posted a version of Cyril Tawney singing The Butcher and the Parson’s Wife in the Mudcat thread linked to above, But this may have been part of his live repertoire only; I don’t know of any recording of this song by him.


The Druids sing The Butcher and the Parson

It’s of a bold butcher as I’ve heard them say
Who married him a lady both buxom and gay.
While the Butcher was out at the market for veal
The parson come kissing his wife all the while.

Chorus (after each verse):
And sing fol-de-rol, fol-de-rol day

Now, the butcher being jealous all of this same thing
Hid under the bed for to see him come in.
Well he hadn’t been gone twenty minutes or more
When in comes the parson and he’s closed the door.

Now they’re into bed and they’re both fast asleep
It’s from under the bed this bold butcher did creep
Puts on parson’s best breeches, his wig and his cloak
And he’s off to his lady to make up the joke.

So it’s off to the parson’s this butcher he rode
With the parson’s best coat on and plenty of gold?
He arrived at the house in the midst of the night
And the maid’s half asleep and she’s give him the light.

“Now where is your mistress?” “In bed,” says the maid.
“Then show me the way right up to her,” he said.
He went up the stairs and pretend himself drunk,
He rumbled, he stumbled, fell over a trunk.

Well he jumps into bed, he gives the candle a puff,
And the lady she turns herself round in a huff.
“Be off, my good parson and touch me no more
For you’ve been carousing along with some whore.”

But the butcher began for to tickle her knees
And the lady she turns herself round for to please,
She turned herself round, not one word did she say,
But she lay in his arms till the break of the day.

Now when she’s awoke and stared into his face
She started to scream in a pitiful case.
“Oh no,” says the butcher, “now don’t you take fright
For your husband has slept with my wife all the night.”

Now round to the butcher’s this couple did go
And there sits the parson all sorry and woe.
“And now, my good parson, where might you have been
When you put on your cloak and came round unto me?”

To the butcher says parson, “Now here’s fifty pounds
For fear that the news may go parish around.
For fear that the congregation might say
The parson, our minister, has led us astray.”