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Adam the Poacher

[ Roud 13907 ; VWML SBG/1/3/64 ; trad.]

Sabine Baring-Could and F.W. Bussell collected Adam the Poacher from William Andrews of Sheepstor, Devon, in July 1893. He printed it in 1896 in his book English Minstrelsie 4 and in 1905 in Songs of the West.

Bandoggs sang Adam Was a Poacher in 1978 on their eponymous LP Bandoggs.

Patterson Jordan Dipper sang Adam the Poacher in 2002 on their WildGoose CD Flat Earth. They commented in their liner notes:

The poacher caught is another classic topic for traditional song. Adam the Poacher is a set of words on the subject learned from the great Bandoggs and set here to the traditional tune Adam the Poacher, learned by John [Dipper], along with the nameless English air which precedes it, from Chris Bartram.

Martin and Shan Graebe sang Hunting the Hare and Adam the Poacher in 2008 on their WildGoose CD Dusty Diamonds. They noted:

SB-G Manuscript Ref. P3, 47 (420). Two songs about mistreating hares. Actually, we rather like hares and there is no way we would say “go out and do it”, but these are magnificent tunes. Adam the Poacher has long been a favourite piece and is invariably played at the Baring-Gould Festival each autumn, where we have sung it with Nick [Wyke] and Becki [Driscoll]. It was played to Baring-Gould by William Andrew, a fiddler who farmed at Sheepstor, on the South Western edge of Dartmoor [VWML SBG/1/3/64] . He recalled that, when he had played for village dances, the dancers would sing the words of the songs as he played. He could not, though, remember all the words—only those that came at the ‘turns’ in the dance. Baring-Gould wrote a set of words based on William Andrew’s description of the song and Shan has re-written a couple of his lines for our version. […]

Jo Freya sang Adam Was a Poacher in 2018 on Blowzabella's album Two Score. They noted:

Traditional with extra lyrics by Jo Freya.
Dave [Shepherd] came across this in the William Andrews Tunebook, a book of Dartmoor tunes collected by the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould from William Andrews of Sheepstor in 1893, published by The Wren Trust. Paul [James] found a brief version of the words in the Kennedy Grant Library at Halsway Manor (national centre for folk arts), scribbled them on a piece of paper and gave them to Jo who added to the poacher's story.

Lyrics

William Andrews sings Adam the Poacher Bandoggs sing Adam Was a Poacher

Old Adam was a poacher,
Went out one day in Fall
To catch a hare for roasting,
And eating bones and all.
In the sun,
Expecting fun,
Old Adam smiling lay.
O hare is good eating!
Thus did old Adam say.

Old Adam was a poacher,
Went out one day at Fall
To catch a hare for roasting,
And eating bones and all.
In the sun,
Expecting fun,
Old Adam smiling lay.
O hare it is good eating!
This did old Adam say.

Old Adam was a poacher,
Went out one day at Fall
To catch a hare for roasting,
And eating bones and all.

A keeper that was passing
Looked slyly through the brake,
Saw Adam with his springle,
Proceeded both to take,
Hare wasn't hisn,
So in prison
Old Adam groaning lay.
O hare it is good eating
But not for him to-day,

A keeper that was passing
Peered slyly through the brake,
Saw Adam with his springle,
Proceeded both to take,
Hare not hisn,
So in prison
Old Adam groaning lay.
O hare it is good eating
But not for him today,

Old Adam was a poacher,
Went out one day at fall.
Went out that morning looking big
And he came back looking small.