> Folk Music > Songs > (Come All Ye) Tramps and Hawkers

(Come All Ye) Tramps and Hawkers

[ Roud 1874 ; G/D 3:487 ; Ballad Index K358 ; trad.]

Davie Stewart sang Come A' Ye Tramps an' Hawkers in Dundee in 1956. This recording was included in 1994 on the Saydisc album Songs of the Travelling People. Another recording, made in 1957 by Alan Lomax in his London apartment, was included in 2002 on Stewart's Rounder anthology Go On, Sing Another Song.

Jimmy McBeath sang Come A' Ye Tramps an' Hawkers to Alan Lomax and Hamish Henderson in Elgin, Scotland on 19 July 1951. This recording which was included in ca 1555 on the Columbia anthology The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music—Volume VI: Scotland. This recording and a second one made in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 30 August 1951 were included in 2002 on his Rounder anthology Tramps and Hawkers. A 1959 recording, made by Sandy Folkarde of the School of Scottish Studies at the Scottish National Institution for War Blinded in Linburn, was released in the following year as the title track of his Collector EP Come A' Ye Tramps and Hawkers. Another recording made in Cecil Sharp House in 1966/7 was released in 1967 on his Topic album Wild Rover No More. This recording was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology There Is a Man Upon the Farm (The Voice of the People Volume 20) and in 2018 on the Greentrax anthology Scotland's Voices.

If Jimmy has a signature tune, this is it. A relatively modern song, it is attributed to Besom Jimmy, an Angus hawker at the end of last century. Our Jimmy learned it from a fellow Gordon Highlander in the trenches during World War I. It is natural that this song should be popular among singers who have been on the road and quite commonly they identify themselves with it by adding autobiographical verses. However, Jimmy is very conservative in these matters and we may assume, that as he learned it only a decade or two after its composition, his version is close to the original.

Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor with The Galliards sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1961 on their Decca album Scottish Choice.

Bob Davenport sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1962 on his Topic EP Wor Geordie. This track was also included in 2002 on the Topic anthology The Acoustic Folk Box. Davenport also sang it in 1997 on his Fellside CD The Red Haired Lad, and in 2014 on Liz Giddings and Roger Digby's CD The Passing Moment. Reg Hall commented in the original EP's sleeve notes:

Tramps and Hawkers, a Scots come-all-ye dating from the last century, is best known as Jimmy McBeath's song, and here Bob gives it a Geordie treatment. The tune is one of the standard Irish-Scots ballad airs and was recently given a new lease of life with Bridie Gallagher's hit record The Homes of Donegal.

Nigel Denver sang Come All Ye Tramps and Hawkers in 1964 on his eponymous Decca album Nigel Denver. He noted:

First heard sung by Jimmy McBeath, a great street-singing balladeer of Scotland. This song could almost be Jimmy's life story.

Luke Kelly sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1964 on The Dubliners' eponymous first Transatlantic album The Dubliners. This recording was also included in 1966 on the Transatlantic anthology The Best of British Folk Music.

Jim Reid sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1981 on the Foundry Bar Band's eponymous album on the Springthyme label, The Foundry Bar Band.

Bobby Eaglesham sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1982 on his Fellside album Weather the Storm.

Bert Jansch sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1990 on his Run River album The Ornament Tree.

Jack Beck sang Tramps and Hawkers in 2001 on his Tradition Bearers album Half Ower, Half Ower tae Aberdour. He noted:

Here is another song from the repertoire of Jimmy McBeath, yet again bashed about somewhat over the years by me. I have heard this sung as everything from Texas Blues (the Ghost of the San Joaquin) to unaccompanied Scots song.

Old Blind Dogs sang Tramps and Hawkers on their 2001 CD Fit?. Susan Malcolm noted:

Tramps and hawkers were itinerant workers who were an important part of the rural workforce before the lowland clearances of the 20th century, when Scottish agriculture workforce was largely lost to the age of the machine. ‘Bla’” means scraps of wood collected from bushes and fences and carried in sacks.

Ewan McLennan sang Tramps and Hawkers in 2010 on his Fellside CD Rags & Robes. A July 2011 live recording from Cambridge Folk Festival was included in the following year on the DVD Cambridge Folk Festival 2011. He commented in his album's notes:

I first heard a truncated version of this song on a record by Robin Hall, Jimmy MacGregor and the Galliards which was lying around my house when I was growing up. Having since listened to and been inspired by performances of it by Davie Stewart and particularly Luke Kelly, I've changed the feel of the song here from how it's usually sung and from how I'd always sung it in the past. The version I sing here is a compilation of verses I've come across, including the final one pinched from a recording by Bob Davenport.


Jimmy McBeath sings Tramps and Hawkers

O come a’ ye tramps an’ hawkers an’ gaitherers o’ blaw,
That tramps the country here aroond, came listen een and all.
I’ll tell tae you a rovin’ tale an’ sights that I hiv seen
Far up into the snowy north and south by Gretna Green.

I hiv seen the high Ben Nevis a' towerin’ to the moon.
I’ve been by Crieff and Callander an’ roun’ by Bonnie Doon
And by the Nethy’s silv’ry tides an’ places ill tae ken
Far up into the snowy North lies Urquhart’s bonnie glen.

Aftimes l’ve lauched into mysel’ when I'm trudgin‘ on the road
Wi’ a bag o’ blaw upon my back, my face as broon’s a toad
Wi’ lumps o’ cakes an’ tattie scones on’ cheese an’ braxy ham
Nae thinkin’ whaur I'm comin’ fae nor whaur I’m gaun tae gang.

I’m happy in the summer time beneath the bright blue sky,
Nae thinkin’ in the mornin’ at nicht whaur I’ve tae lie.
Barns or buyres or anywhere or oat among the hay,
And if the weather does permit I’m happy every day.

O Loch Katrine and Loch Lomon’ has a’ been seen by me,
The Dee, the Don, the Devron that hurries into the sea.
Dunrobin Castle by the way I nearly had forgot,
An’ aye the rickles o’ cairn marks the Hoose o’ John o’ Groat.

I’m up an’ roun’ by Gallowa’ or doon aboot Stranraer,
Ma business leads me anywhere, sure I travel near an’ far.
I’ve got a rovin’ notion, there’s nothing what I loss,
An’ a’ my day’s my daily fare and what’ll pay my doss.

I think I’ll go tae Paddy’s land, I’m makin’ up my min’,
For Scotland’s greatly altered now, sure I canna raise the win’.
But I will trust in Providence, if Providence will prove true,
An’ I will sing of Erin’s Isle when I come back to you.

Jim Read sings Tramps and Hawkers

Ah come aa ye tramps and hawkin lads, ye gaitherers o blaw,
That tramps the country roon an roon, come listen ane an aa;
I’ll tell tae you a roving tale o sichts that I hae seen,
Far up intae the snowy north and doon by Gretna Green.

Oft times I’ve laughed untae masel when trudgin on the road,
Ma toe rag roon ma blistered feet, ma face as broon as the toad;
Wi lumps o breid an tattie scones an dauds o braxy ham,
No gie’n a thocht tae whaur I’ve been or yet tae whaur I’m gaun.

I hae seen the high Ben Lomond a-towrin tae the moon,
I’ve been by Crieff and Callander an roon by bonnie Doon;
I’ve seen Loch Ness’s silvery tides an places ill tae ken,
Far up intae the snowy North lies Urquhart’s fairy glen.

An I’ve done my share o humpin wi the dockers on the Clyde,
I’ve helped the Buckie trawlers haul their herrin ower the side;
I’ve helped tae build the mighty bridge that spans the Firth o Forth,
An wi mony an Angus fairmer’s rig I’ve ploughed the bonny earth.

But I’m happy in the summer time beneath the clear blue sky,
No thinkin in the morning whaur at nicht I’m gaun tae lie;
In barn or byre or onywhere, dossin oot amang the hay,
And if the weather keeps me richt I’ll be happy ilka day.

Ewan McLennan sings Tramps and Hawkers

Come all ye tramps and hawker-lads an' gaitherers o' bla'
That tramp the country roun' and roun', come listen aine and a'.
I'll tell to you a roving tale, of places I have been,
Far up into the snowy north, or sooth by Gretna Green.

Oftimes I've laughed unto myself when trudgin' on the road,
My tore rags round my blistered feet, my face as brown as a toad's.
Wi' lums o' cake an' tattie scones Wi' whangs o' braxy ham
No giein a thought frae whaur I come an' less tae whaur I'm gang.

I've done my share o' humpin' wi' the dockers o' the Clyde,
I've helped in Buckie trawlers haul the herrin' o'er the side.
I helped to build the michty bridge that spans the busy Forth
And wi' mony an Angus fairmer's trick I plooed the bony earth.

I'm happy in the summertime beneath the bright blue sky,
No thinkin' in the mornin' where at night I'll hae to lie.
In barn or byre or anywhere dossin' out among the hay
And if the weather treats me right I'm happy every day.

I've been by bonny Gallowa', an' often roun' Stranraer,
My business leads me anywhere, I travel near an' far.
I've got that rovin' notion, I wouldna like tae loss,
For It's my daily fare an' as much'll pay my doss.

I think I'll gang tae Paddy's Lan', I'm makin' up my mind,
For Scotland's greatly altered noo, I canna raise the wind.
But if I can trust in Providence, if Providence should prove true
I'll sing ye's a' of Erin's Isle when I come back to you.