> A.L.Lloyd > Songs > The Drunken Maidens
> Tim Hart & Maddy Prior > Songs > Three Drunken Maidens
> Cyril Tawney > Songs > Three Drunken Maidens

The/Three/Four Drunken Maidens

[ Roud 252 ; Ballad Index Log240 ; VWML SBG/3/1/466 ; Bodleian Roud 252 ; trad.]

Songs of the West

A.L. Lloyd sang The Drunken Maidens in 1956 on his Riverside album English Drinking Songs, accompanied by Al Jeffery on banjo. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:

The song of the four Rabelaisian girls of the Isle of Wight spread from the far south of England to every boozing den where good singers gathered. Two hundred years ago the ballad was hawked from door to door, contained in a saucy songbook titled: Charming Phylis' Garland. Many have asked: Why the Isle of Wight? Long ago the island was the harbour of smugglers, and cheap liquor leads to prodigious drinking. It is pleasant to think that the Isle of Wight, now chiefly famous as the home of the snooty Royal Yacht Squadron, once rang with the laughter of bouncing Sally and her mates.

A.L. Lloyd recorded this again as Four Drunken Maidens in 1966 for his album First Person, accompanied by Dave Swarbrick on fiddle. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:

A hosanna to a band of ribald and riotous girls, great models for Rowlandson, rocking on the Isle of Wight. Before the days of the Royal Yacht Squadron and the boardinghouse landladies, the little island was a prime place for smugglers of wines and spirits who unloaded their contraband in secret coves, before conveying it across the Solent to the mainland. Excisemen prowled the streets with a bloodhound's nose for the hidden hogsheads, but night after night, a chronicler tells us, “the cellars of the Isle shook with the stamp and thwack of carousal.” Our delicious quartet of bacchantes fits well such a scene. The song belongs to the mid-eighteenth century, but it spread like wildfire, reaching the far north of England by the 1760's. The tune we use is the standard one in the southern countries, but the fiddle melody at the start and finish is the north-eastern version as it appears in the tunebook that William Vickers, a musician of the North Tyne village of Wark, wrote of for himself in 1770.

Tim Hart and Maddy Prior recorded this song as Three Drunken Maidens in 1971 for their third duo album Summer Solstice. Steeleye Span sang this on their BBC Radio Concert session on 16 January 1973. This recording was included in 1987 on the BBC anthology Through Bushes and Briar and in 2003 on the compilation The Harvest of Gold.

Planxty recorded Three Drunken Maidens for a single in 1972. A live verison from a concert in National Stadium in 1973 was included in 2016 on their CD Between the Jigs and the Reels.

Frankie Armstrong, Heather Wood and Susie Rothfield sang Three Drunken Maidens in 1975 on Armstrong's Topic album Songs and Ballads. A.L. Lloyd commented in the sleeve notes:

Before the days of the seaside boarding house and the Royal Yacht Squadron, the Isle of Wight was an off-loading point for liquor smugglers from France, and a place of brandy and boisterousness, rum and riot. A.L. Lloyd found the words in W H. Logan’s Pedlar’s Pack of Ballads and Songs (1869) and he made a tune for them. Later he came across an old melody for the song in a North Tyne piper’s manuscript tune-book (John Vickers’ Tune Book, compiled c. 1770), and a nice air too, but the song now seems to be stuck with Lloyd’s melody. Originally the drunken maidens numbered four, but singing the song with Heather Wood and Susie Rothfield, Frankie has found it apt to reduce the boozy line-up.

Fairport Convention sang Three Drunken Maidens in 1978 on their Vertigo (!) album Tipplers Tales. This track was also included in 1998 on their anthology CD Fiddlestix. Dave Swarbrick & Simon Nicol also sang it on their 1982 duo albums In the Club. and Live at the White Bear.

John Roberts & Tony Barrand sang Three Drunken Maidens live at Holstein's, North Lincoln, Chicago, in November 1982. This recording was included in the following year on their album Live at Holsteins!. They noted:

A.L. Lloyd collected songs, and also created them. He adapted texts from broadsides, chapbooks, motifs and fragments and fitted them with tunes, and moulded them seamlessly into gems which he passed back into the tradition. From him comes Three Drunken Maidens.

Cyril Tawney sang Three Drunken Maidens in 1994 on his Neptune Tapes cassette of songs about drink and drinkers, Down the Hatch.

Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton sang Three Drunken Maidens on their 1998 album The Bee-Loud Glade.

Mike Bosworth sang The Drunken Maidens in 2004 on his album of songs from the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould collection, By Chance It Was. He noted:

Taken down from Edmund Fry of Lydford [VWML SBG/3/1/466] . Accompanied by John Kirkpatrick on the melodeon. Baring-Gould rewrote the fifth line in the last verse changing ‘maidenheads’ to ‘character’, so as not to offend those of the Victorian drawing room set, with their delicate hearing.

The Askew Sisters sang Three Drunken Maidens in 2007 on their WildGoose CD All in a Garden Green. They noted:

We got this fun song from the singing of the wonderful Frankie Armstrong. The earliest source of the words comes from The Pedlar's Pack of Ballads and Songs of 1869, but the tune is probably more modern. Frankie altered the words from four to three maidens, which seems to make more sense. (But it's rumoured there may have even been seven in the original version: we wouldn't be surprised!)

This video shows them at the Bodmin Folk Club in 2012:

Marilyn Tucker & Paul Wilson sang Drunken Maidens in 2008 on their WildGoose CD of traditional songs from Devon and Cornwall from the collection of Sabine Baring-Gould, Dead Maid's Land. They noted

In a disagreement with Cecil Sharp about this being a ‘proper’ folk song, we find Baring-Gould, as so often, on the liberal side of the argument, advocating it's inclusion into the folk canon. The version on this recording is from thatcher Edmund Fry [VWML SBG/3/1/466] , collated with other texts in the collection.

The Demon Barbers learned Three Drunken Maids from the singing of Mike Barber and sang it in 2010 on their CD The Adventures of Captain Ward.

Isambarde sang Three Drunken Maidens in 2020 on their CD Telling Tales.

Danny Spooner sang The Drunken Maidens on his 2013 CD Gorgeous, Game Girls. He noted:

These girls, out of town and on a spree, do it in style and nothing is going to interfere with their fun, least of all worrying about the bill or where the next drink is coming from!

Bellowhead sang The Drunken Maidens on the bonus CD of the ‘deluxe’ issue of their 2014 album Revival.

Belinda O'Hooley and Heidi Tidow learned Three Drunken Maidens “from the wonderful version by Maddy Prior” and sang it in 2015 on their CD Summat's Brewin'.

Lyrics

A.L.Lloyd sings The Drunken Maidens Tim Hart & Maddy Prior sing Three Drunken Maidens

There were three drunken maidens
Come from the Isle of Wight,
They drunk from Monday morning
Nor stopped till Saturday night.
When Saturday night did come, my lads,
They wouldn't then go out.
Not them three drunken maidens,
As they pushed the jug about.

There were three drunken maidens
Came from the Isle of Wight,
They drunk from Monday morning
Nor stopped till Saturday night.
When Saturday night did come, my boys,
They wouldn't then go out.
These three drunken maidens,
They pushed the jug about.

Then in comes bouncing Sally,
With her cheeks as red as blooms.
Move up my jolly sisters,
And give young Sally some room.
For I will be your equal
Before that I go out.
So now four drunken maidens,
They pushed the jug about.

Then in comes bouncing Sally,
Her cheeks as red as blooms.
Move up my jolly sisters,
And give young Sally some room.
For I will be your equal
Before the night is out.
These four drunken maidens,
They pushed the jug about.

It was woodcock and pheasant
And partridge and hare,
And every sort of dainties,
No scarcity was there.
There was forty quarts of beer, my boys,
They fairly drunk it out.
And them four drunken maidens,
They pushed the jug about.

There's woodcock and pheasant,
There's partridge and hare.
There's all sorts of dainties,
No scarcity was there.
There's forty quarts of beer, my boys,
They fairly drunk them out.
These four drunken maidens,
They pushed the jug about.

And up there come the landlord,
Asking for his pay.
And a forty pound bill, my lads,
Them gals was forced to pay.
They had ten pounds apiece, my boys,
Ad yet they wouldn't go out.
But them four drunken maidens,
They pushed the jug about.

But up comes the landlord,
He's asking for his pay.
It' a forty pound bill, my boys
These gals have got to pay.
That's ten pounds apiece, my boys,
But still they wouldn't go out.
These four drunken maidens,
They pushed the jug about.

Oh where are your feathered hats,
Your mantles rich and fine?
They've all been swallowed up,
In tankards of good wine.
And where are your maidenheads,
You maidens brisk and gay?
We left them in the alehouse
For we drank them clean away.

Oh where are your feathered hats,
Your mantles rich and fine?
They've all been swallowed up,
In tankards of good wine.
And where are your maidenheads,
You maidens brisk and gay?
We left them in the alehouse,
We drank them clean away

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: Drunken Maidens.