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The Crockery Ware / A Young Man Lived in Belfast Town

[ Roud 1490 ; Master title: The Crockery Ware ; Ballad Index Pea257 ; Bodleian Roud 1490 ; Wiltshire 436 ; Mudcat 46426 ; trad.]

Marrow Bones

O.J. Abbott from Hull, Quebec, sang A Young Man Lived in Belfast Town in a field recording made by Edith Fowke that was included in 1961 on his Folkways album Irish and British Songs from the Ottawa Valley. Edith Fowke noted:

This lively tale of the difficulties encountered by the young man trying to find his sweetheart in the night is a song that Mr. Abbott learned from Jack McCann. It falls into the large class of tales of night adventures which have always been common in oral tradition but less frequently find their way into print.

Notts Alliance sang the comic The Crockery Ware in 1972 on their Traditional Sound album The Cheerful 'Orn.

Margaret Christl sang The Crockery Ware on her 1976 Folk-Legacy album The Barley Grain for Me.

Nic Jones sang Crockery Ware in 1977 on his album The Noah's Ark Trap. Sadly, it is out of print for a long time now.

Maggie Murphy (née Chambers) sang Crockery Ware in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, on 6 August 1980. This recording was included in 2014 on the Musical Traditions anthology of traditional songs from around Lough Erne's shore collected by Keith Summers, I Pray You Pay Attention. Another recording made in 1995/6 made by John Howson was released on her 1996 Veteran CD of traditional folk songs and ballads from Tempo, Co Fermanagh, Linkin' O'er the Lea.

Nick Dow sang The Crockery Ware in 1986 on his album A Mark Upon the Earth.

Old Blind Dogs sang Crockery Ware in 1991 on their first and eponymous album, the cassette Old Blind Dogs.

Brian Peters and Gordon Tyrrall sang The Crockery Ware in 2000 on their CD The Moving Moon. They commented in their liner notes:

The Crockery Ware was popular in both England and Ireland during the 19th century, and survived in the repertoire of Maggie Murphy from Tempo, Co. Fermanagh, from whose recent CD we learned it.

John Kirkpatrick sang The Crockery Ware in 2001 on Brass Monkey's fourth album Going and Staying. The liner notes commented:

The Crockery Ware is a typical English joke-song that had been around for a good many generations before Fred Cottenham of Kent sang it for the collector Mike Yates in the late 1970s. You can hear it on The Horkey Load, Volume 1, on Veteran Tapes.

Den Giddens sang Crockery Ware live an the White Lion folk club in Wherwell, Hampshire, in 2001. A recording of this concert was released in 2003 on his WildGoose CD A Little Bit Off the Top. He noted:

This came from a lovely old chap called Fred Cotterham, again at Elsie's. Fred was a real old countryman and, I am happy to say, a good friend. He used to come round to our house, drink a lot of beer and sing a lot of songs.

Jackie Oates recorded Crockery Ware in 2008 for her second album, The Violet Hour. According to her liner notes it is “the Dorset version of the song, loosely similar to the one found in the Hammond Manuscripts.”

Andy Turner sang The Crockery Ware as the 19 August 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. He commented in his blog:

I learned this song from Roy Palmer's Everyman's Book of English Country Songs. It was recorded in 1976 by Mike Yates, from Fred Cottenham, at Chiddingstone in Kent. Mike mistakenly gave the singer's name as ‘Fred Cottingham’, and this was repeated both in Roy's book, and when the recording was included on the Veteran Tapes cassette The Horkey Load, Volume 1. However Fred's surname was definitely Cottenham: you can read about his life, and his singing father ‘Needle’ Cottenham, in an article by George Frampton for Musical Traditions—Fred Cottenham: The ‘Crockery Ware’ Man.

The ‘crockery ware’ referred to in this song, incidentally, is the chamber pot, aka the gazunder.


O.J. Abbott sings A Young Man Lived in Belfast Town

𝄆 A young man lived in Belfast town,
Courted a girl when she was young. 𝄇
He asked her for a favor bright
If he might sleep with her all night.

Chorus (after each verse):
Right whack fol-the doo-a di-do-day,
Right whack fol-the doo-a di-do-day.

𝄆 This fair maid she gave consent
And straight up to her room she went. 𝄇
And in that room there was a chair,
And under the chair was crockery ware.

𝄆 This young man got up in the night
Looking for his heart's delight. 𝄇
His foot did slip, I do declare,
And he tumbled into the crockery ware.

𝄆 The old woman she got up in the night,
Ran upstairs with the candle light. 𝄇
She says, “Young man, what do you there
A-breaking all my crockery ware?”

𝄆 The police were sent for at break of day
To see what this young man should pay. 𝄇
He paid nine pounds for the crockery ware
And nine pounds ten for the damned old chair.

Nic Jones sings Crockery Ware

In our town there lived a man
And he courted a girl both fine and young
He asked her for one favour bright
That he might sleep with her that night

Chorus (repeated after each verse):

Now this young girl she did contrive
To fix a joke on him that night
Behind the door she placed a chair
And on it she put the crockery ware

Now this young man he got up in the night
And was thinking to find his heart's delight
He cracked his shins all against the chair
And he tumbled into the crockery ware

Now the old woman rose in a terrible fright
And she came upstairs with the candle light
She says “Young man how came you here?
Capsizing of my crockery ware”

This Betsy lay in the very next room
And she's laughing at the game going on
She said “Young man, I do declare
You must pay my mother for the crockery ware”

The police were sent for without delay
To see what this young man should pay
He's paid three shillings for the crockery ware
And five pound ten for the damned old chair

John Kirkpatrick sings The Crockery Ware

Well a laddy in Lincolnshire did dwell
Courted of a fine young girl
He asked her a favour one fine night
If he could sleep with her till light

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Right fol the ridey ro
Right fol the ridey ro

Well straightaway she gave consent
Straightaway upstairs they went
She placed him in a great big chair
And there underneath was the crockery ware

Well Johnny went groping in the dark
Thinking he was up to a lark
He blundered up against that bloody great chair
And arse over head went the crockery ware

Well the old girl woke up in a fright
Shouting out for the candle light
“Oh who goes there? I do declare
A-breaking of my crockery ware”

Well the damsel in her bed was laid
A-laughing at this game she'd played
“Oh it's all right, John, I do declare
If you pay my mother for the crockery ware”

So early in the morning the bill was paid
And on the table it was laid
It was ten bob for that bloody old chair
And two pound ten for the crockery ware

So all you lads who's up to a lark
Never go a-courting in the dark
For if you do I do declare
You'll pay bloody dear for the crockery ware


Transcription from John Kirkpatrick's singing by Garry Gillard.