> Folk Music > Songs > When This Old Hat Was New

When This Old Hat Was New

[ Roud 1693 ; G/D 3:540 , 3:541 ; Ballad Index GrD3540 , GrD3541 ; VWML GG/1/12/756 ; Bodleian Roud 1693 ; trad.]

The Foggy Dew

Pete Coe sang When This Old Hat Was New in 1976 on his Trailer album Out of Season, Out of Rhyme.

Chris Foster sang When This Old Hat Was New in 1979 on his Topic album All Things in Common. He noted:

This song is traceable back to a piece called Times Alteration written around 1630. The theme of old people looking nostalgically back at their earlier years is a well worn one, but in 1630 England was in the throes of an economic and political upheaval that probably gives this song a little more justification than usual. Looking nostalgically back to a golden past before the Norman Conquest was something that was popular at the time. Many people laid the blame for their troubles at the door of the Norman tyrant even though he had been dead for well over 500 years. But the Romans being a charitable institution really stretches credibility to the limit.

Crows sang When This Old Hat Was New in a 1982/3 radio live recording that was included in 2016 on their WildGoose anthology Time to Rise.

John Wright sang When This Old Hat Was New in a previously unreleased recording from 2000 that was included in 2006 on Fellside's 40th anniversary anthology, The Journey Continues.

Jim Moray sang When This Old Hat Was New on his 2019 CD The Outlander. He noted:

As sung to George Gardiner by Daniel Wigg, Preston Candover, Hampshire, July 1907. [Gardiner noted just the tune in [VWML GG/1/12/756] the words are from a broadside.] I first heard this song by Chris Foster on his album All Things in Common.

Lyrics

When This Old Hat Was New in [VWML GG/1/12/756]

I am a poor old man, in years, come listen to my song,
Provisions now are twice as dear as when that I was young.
It was when this old hat was new and stood above my brow,
O, what a happy youth was I when this old hat was new.

It is but four score years ago the truth I do declare,
When men they took each other's words, they thought it very fair,
No oaths or bonds they did require, men's words were so true,
This was in my youthful days when this old hat was new.

When the time of harvest came and we went out to shear,
How often we were merry made with brandy, ale and beer.
And when the corn it was brought home and put upon the mow,
The workers paunches was well filled when this old hat was new.

The farmer at the board head stood, the table forto grace,
And greets all as they came in, all took their proper place.
His wife she at the table stood to give each man his due,
And O! what plenty did abound when this old hat was new.

But now the times are altered, the poor are quite done o'er,
They give to them their wages like beggars at the door.
Into the house we must not go, although we are but few,
It was not so when Bess did reign and this old hat was new.

The commons they are taken in and cottages pulled down,
Moll has got no wool to spin her linsey-wolsey gown;
The weather's cold and clothing thin and blankets are but few,
But we were clothed both back and skin when this old hat was new.

When Romans in this land did reign, the commons they did give,
Unto the poor in charity to help them for to live;
But now the poor is quite done o'er, we know it to be true,
It was not so when Bess did reign and this old hat was new.

Jim Moray sings When This Old Hat Was New

I am a poor old man, come listen to my song,
Provisions now are twice as much as they were when I was young.
Well this old hat was new and worn above my brow,
Oh, what a happy youth was I 𝄆 when this old hat was new. 𝄇

but forty years ago the truth I do declare,
When men they took each other's word, they thought it very fair,
No oath it was required, men's words they were so true,
'Twas thus all in my youthful days 𝄆 when this old hat was new. 𝄇

And when the harvest came and we went off to shear,
How often we would merry be with whisky, wine and beer.
When the corn it was brought home and put upon the mow,
The workers paunches were well filled 𝄆 when this old hat was new. 𝄇

But now the times have changed, the poor are quite done o'er,
And we give to them their wages like beggars at the door.
In the house they may not go, although they are but few,
It was not so when Bess did reign 𝄆 and this old hat was new. 𝄇

The commons they are taken in, the cottages pulled down,
Moll has got the wool to spin her linsey-wolsey gown;
'Tis cold and clothing's thin and blankets are but few,
But we were clothed both back and side 𝄆 when this old hat was new. 𝄇

When Romans ruled this land the commons they did give,
Unto the poor for charity to help them for to live;
The poor are quite done o'er, we know this to be true,
It was not so when Bess did reign 𝄆 and this old hat was new. 𝄇