> The Watersons > Songs > The Ploughboy

All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough / The Ploughboy

[ Roud 346 ; Master title: All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough ; G/D 3:418 ; Ballad Index K241 ; Bodleian Roud 346 ; GlosTrad Roud 346 ; Wiltshire 700 , 1111 ; Mudcat 20172 ; trad.]

Sabine Baring-Gould, H. Fleetwood Sheppard: Songs of the West Lucy Broadwood: English County Songs Paul & Liz Davenport: Down Yorkshire Lanes Mary and Nigel Hudleston: Songs of the Ridings Marek Korczynski, Michael Pickering, Emma Robertson: Rhythms of Labour Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger: Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland John Morrish: The Folk Handbook Roy Palmer: Everyman's Book of English Country Songs Steve Roud, Julia Bishop: The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs

May Bradley sang All Jolly Fellows in a recording made by Fred Hamer in Ludlow, Shropshire between 1959 and 1966. It was included in 2010 on her Musical Traditions anthology Sweet Swansea. Rod Stradling noted:

A very popular song in England with 125 listings in Roud (only 5 references to it elsewhere—3 from Scotland and 2 from North America). It may be of quite late composition, and it has certainly survived well into the era of sound recording—almost all country singers had it in their repertoire and there are 29 sound recordings, almost all from central and southern England. Most versions stick pretty close to Catnatch's broadside text, first printed around 1820.

George Townshend sang All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough to Brian Matthews in 1960-64. It was included in 2000 and in 2012 on the two issues of his Musical Traditions anthology Come, Hand to Me the Glass.

Ralph Noble of Cuba Cottage, Burythorpe, Malton, sang All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough in a recording made by Colin S. Wharton, who included it in 1962 in his Leeds University degree thesis “Folk Songs from the North Riding”. It was also included in 2019 on the Musical Traditions anthology of songs from the Colin Wharton Collection, Songs of the North Riding.

The Watersons sang The Ploughboy at an EFDSS-sponsored concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London on 4 June 1965, which was released on the LP Folksound of Britain. This recording has also been included in 2004 on the Watersons' 4 CD anthology Mighty River of Song. Their lyrics are somewhat different to Fred Jordan's and Bob Hart's as shown below: the farmer's accusations were moved into a chorus and the fellows in the last line of each verse aren't just jolly but clever, hungry and thirsty.

(Note that the Watersons also sang another song they called The Ploughboy [Roud 163], which is better known as The Khaki and the Blue, on their 1966 album A Yorkshire Garland.)

Fred Jordan sang We're All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough in a recording made by Bill Leader and Mike Yates in a private room in The Bay Malton Hotel, Oldfield Brow, Altringham, Cheshire in 1966. This was published in 1966 on his Topic album Songs of a Shropshire Farm Worker and in 1998 on the Topic anthology Come All My Lads That Follow the Plough (The Voice of the People Series, Vol. 5). His album's liner notes commented:

Of this song, Cecil Sharp said: “I find that almost every singer knows it; the bad singers often know but little else.” It was published on a broadside by Henry Such, of the Borough, London, which seems to have had a particularly heavy sale through the Cotswolds, where the song has turned up over and again, to sundry tunes. Fred Jordan's tune, however, is distinct from any of those published by Baring-Gould, Sharp, Broadwood, Gardiner and others.

Dave and Toni Arthur sang The Jolly Plough Boys in 1967 on their first duo album, Morning Stands on Tiptoe.

George Belton sang All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough at Madehurst, Arundel, Sussex on 29 January 1967 to Sean Davies and Tony Wales. This recording was released in the same year as the title track of his EFDSS album All Jolly Fellows…, and in 2020 on his Musical Traditions anthology A True Furrow To Hold. A live recording made by Karl Dallas at the Lewes Arms, Mount Place, Lewes, Sussex, on 11 May 1974 was released in 1975 on the Transatlantic album of “songs and stories in a Sussex pub”, The Brave Ploughboy.

Bob Hart sang All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough at home in Snape, Suffolk, on 8 July 1969 to Rod and Danny Stradling. This recording was included in 1998 on his Musical Traditions anthology A Broadside. He also sang it at home in July 1982 to Tony Engle. This recording was published a year later on his Topic album Songs from Suffolk. A.L. Lloyd noted:

Of this song, Cecil Sharp said: “I find that almost every singer knows it. The bad singers often know but little else.” Wherever it's been found the words are almost identical with Bob Hart's set. Such is the power of the broadside text first issued by old James Catnach about 1820 and subsequently imitated by a score of stall-ballad printers. A nineteenth century Top of the Pops.

The Broadside sang We're All Jolly Fellows on their 1971 album of Lincolnshire folk songs, The Gipsy's Wedding Day. They noted:

Well-known throughout arable England and often heard in Lincolnshire. This version was collected by Brian Dawson not long ago from the singing of the late Jack Redford, of Branston. The tune, the commonest of all English folk-song airs, was appropriated by the music hall in the middle of the last century as a vehicle for Villikins and his Dinah.

Jon Rennard sang Follow the Plough at the Bate Hall Folk Club in Macclesfield in November 1970. A recording of this concert was released in the following year on his Traditional Sound album The Parting Glass.

Bob Arnold sang All Jolly Fellows Who Follow the Plough in 1974 on the Argo LP The World of the Countryside.

Bob Mills sang All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough in a recording made by Sam Richards and Tish Stubbs in 1974-80 on the 1981 Folkways album thefolkhandbook. The album's Liner notes commented:

This is the classic English agricultural labourer's bothy song. Nearly all country singers with anything like a repertoire used to know at least a few verses, and, indeed, many still do.

Unlike in Scotland where the “bothy song” became a recognised genre, there are very few English songs specifically on the theme of farm work. Hundreds of songs have a rural setting, and heroes and heroines are frequently portrayed as ploughboys and milkmaids, but songs such as these are narratives first and foremost rather than direct comments of farm life and work.

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang Jolly Fellows Who Follow the Plough in 1975 on the Trailer album Maypoles to Mistletoe, and he sang The Ploughboy in 1979 on his Broadside album Andy's Gone.

Bill Smith from Shropshire sang All Jolly Fellows in in a 1980 recording made by his son Andrew Smith that was included in 2011 on his Musical Traditions anthology A Country Life.

Gordon Syrrett of Mendlesham Green, Suffolk, sang All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough to john Howson in 1980. It was included in in 1993 on the Veteran cassettes and in 2009 on the Veteran CD anthology of traditional music making from Mid-Suffolk, Many a Good Horseman. John Howson noted:

Cecil Sharp remarked that, “Almost every singer knows All Jolly Fellows that follow the Plough: the bad singers know little else”. Not that Gordon Syrett was in that category of course, and Sharp was certainly right in that there are few country folk song collections that don't include this song. Almost all are to the same tune, which is a variant of the ubiquitous Villikins and his Dinah.

Len and Barbara Berry aka The Portway Pedlars sang We Are All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough in 1984 on their Greenwich Village album In Greenwood Shades.

Tony Harvey from Tannington, Suffolk, sang Jolly Fine Fellows Who Follow the Plough in a recording made by John Howson in between 1973 and 1991 that was released in 1987-93 on the Veteran Tapes cassette Songs Sung in Suffolk 2 and in 1993 on the Veteran CD anthology of traditional folk music, songs and dances from England, Stepping it Out.

Jeff Wesley of Northamptonshire sang All Jolly Fellows Who Follow the Plough in a recording made at Whittlebury by John Howson in 1989. It was published on his Veteran cassette Brisk and Bonny Lad, and was included in 2001 on the Veteran anthology of traditional folk music from rural England, Down in the Fields. John Howson noted:

Cecil Sharp remarked that, “Almost every singer knows All Jolly Fellows Who Follow the Plough: the bad singers often know little else.” Not that Jeff fits into that category of course! In fact his version is unusual as it has an interesting different tune. The more usual tune is in fact a version of the ubiquitous Villikins and Dinah. Sharp was of course right and there are few folk-song collections that don’t include a version of this tune.

Magpie Lane learned All Jolly Fellows that Follow the Plough from the Oxfordshire section of Lucy Broadwood’s English County Songs and sang it in 1994 on their Beautiful Jo album Speed the Plough. Andy Turner included this as the 16 June 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Kate Rusby sang Jolly Ploughboys in 1997 on her CD Hourglass.

The Dollymops from the Isle of Wight sang All Jolly Fellows in 2013 on their WildGoose CD Wight Cockade. They noted:

Island-based historian Alan Phillips tipped us off about this song which was still being sung in Brighstone in the 1950s—in this instance by Bob Cassell, from Brook. Bob Cassell was part of a vigorous West Wight singing tradition centred upon The New Inn at Brighstone and The Sun Inn at Hulverstone. Echoes of this tradition persist in the marvellous singing of Graham Keeping (look out for a forthcoming CD from him on Rod Stradling’s wonderful Musical Traditions label). Our version uses a Hampshire tune and words that were published in Lucy Broadwood’s English County Songs (1893).

Nick Dow sang All Jolly Fellows on his 2016 CD The Devil in the Chest. He noted:

From Emma Overd of Langport (1838-1928), a great singer in her day. The tune is unique and replaces the usual Villikins tune. This song was a 19th century hit, and is still sung to this day.

Anna Baldwin sang the Ploughing Song (We Are All Jolly Fellows) on Amsher's 2018 album of Hampshire songs collected by Lucy Broadwood in Oxfordshire, Patience Vaisey at Adwell 1892. Bob Askew noted:

A very well known song, sung at harvest homes and other celebrations. Patience's tune is a little different from the common one, and Lucy Broadwood noted that it showed “traces of the Dorian mode”.

Lyrics

May Bradley sings All Jolly Fellows

I came from the country, me name it is John.
I've travelled a hundred and thirty odd mile
I trapped there all night and it's all the next day
Right tooraleye, tooraleye tooralaleyeday.

Down came the farmer with a smile on his face
“You have ploughed an acre, I'll swear and I'll vow,
You have ploughed an acre, I'll swear and I'll vow,
Then you're all jolly fellows that follows the plough.

“Now six o'clock boys to breakfast you come,
Good bread and cheese and the best of stingo
Unharness your horses and well rub 'em down
And it's call at the house for the jug that is brown.”

Right tooraleye, tooraleye tooralaleyeday,
Right tooraleye, tooraleye tooralaleyeday.
Now I slept there all night and all the next day,
Right tooraleye, tooraleye tooralaleyeday.

George Townshend sings All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough

'Twas early one morning at the break of day,
The cocks were a-crowing, the farmer did say,
“Come rise you good fellows, arise with good will,
For your horses want something their bellies to fill.”

When four o'clock comes, then up we all rise,
And into our stables so merrily fly,
With rubbing and scrubbing our horses we vow,
We're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

Then six o'clock comes, at breakfast we meet,
Peat bread and pork pies we heartily eat,
With a piece in our pocket, I'll swear and I'll vow,
We're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

Then we harness our horses, our way then we go
And trip o'er the plain boys so merrily-O,
And when we come there, so jolly and bold,
To see which of us the straight furrow can hold.

Our master came to us and thus he did say,
“What have you been doing boys, all this long day?
Well you've not ploughed an acre, I'll swear and I'll vow.
And you're all idle fellows that follow the plough.”

I stepped up to him and made this reply,
“We have all ploughed an acre, so you tell a lie.
We have all ploughed an acre, I'll swear and I'll vow,
And we're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.”

He turned himself round and he laughed in a joke,
“It's past two o'clock, boys; it's time to unyoke.
Unharness your horses and rub them down well,
And I'll give you a jug of the very best ale.”

So come all you brave fellows, where e'er you be,
Take this advice and be ruled by me,
And never fear your masters, I'll swear and I'll vow,
For you're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

The Watersons sing The Ploughboy on Folksound of Britain

'Twas early one morning at the break of the day,
The young cocks was crowing; the farmer did say,
“Rise up me good fellows and work wi' good will,
For your horses need summat their bellies to fill.”

Chorus (after each verse):
It's oorily oorily oorily ay
What have you been doing this long summer's day?
We ain't ploughed an acre I'll swear and I'll vow
Oh, you're damned idle fellows as follows the plough

At four in the morning we rise from our bed,
Go down to the pump and we douse in our head.
We curry our horses and tak' 'em in tow
'Cause we're damned clever fellows as follows the plough.

At six in the morning it's breakfast time now
And welcome it is I can certainly vow,
With eggs and with bread and a piece of old sow
'Cause we're damned hungry fellows as follows the plough.

We harness our horses, take them to the field,
And a plentiful harvest in time we will yield.
We plough all our furrows all in a straight row
'Cause we're damned clever fellows as follows the plough.

And come eventide then our work it shall end;
It's round to the alehouse to toast an old friend.
Put a gallon o' pint pots all in a straight row
'Cause we're damned thirsty fellows as follows the plough.

Fred Jordan sings We're All Jolly Fellows As Follow the Plough

So early one morning at the break of the day,
The cocks they was crowing; the farmer did say,
“Come arise, young fellows rise up of good will,
For your horses want something their bellies to fill.”

So when four o'clock comes, boys, then up we do rise
And into the stable we merrily flies.
With a rubbing and scrubbing, I'll swear and I'll vow
That we're all jolly fellows that follows the plough.

At six o'clock then our breakfast we seek;
On beef, bread and pork, boys, we heartily eats.
With a piece in our pocket, I'll swear and I'll vow
That we're all jolly fellows that follows the plough.

Then we harness our horses and out we do go,
A trip o'er the clods, boys, as nimble as dough,
And when we gets there then so jolly and bold
To see which of us a straight furrow can hold.

Now, one day the master he came riding by and thus he did say,
“What have you been doing this very long day?
You have not ploughed your acre, I'll swear and I vow
That you're all idle fellows as follows the plough!”

And then I turned around and I made this reply,
“We've all ploughed our acre; You tells a big lie!”
And the master he looked and he laughed at the joke
“Oh, it's past two o'clock, boys, it's time to unyoke.”

“So unharness your horses and we'll rub them down,
And I'll bring you some ale in the jug that is brown.”

So all you young fellows wherever you be,
Come take this advice and be ruled by me:
For fear not your master, for I'll swear and I'll vow
That we're all jolly fellows that follows the plough.

George Belton sings All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough

It was early one morning, the break of day,
And the cocks are a-crowing, the farmer did say,
“Come arise, my good fellows arise with good will
For your horses want something their bellies to fill.”

Then when four o’clock comes, boys, and up we will rise,
And into our stable, we merrily reply.
With rubbing and scrubbing our horses down well,
We’re all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

Then when six o’clock comes, boys, at breakfast we meet,
With the pork, beef and bread, boys, we heartily eat.
With a piece in our pockets, I’ll swear and I’ll vow,
We’re all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

Then when seven o’clock comes, boys, and out we will go
And harness our horses, then away we will go
And trip o’er the plain, boys, more merrily and bold
To see which of us a straight furrow can hold.

Then out comes our Master and thus he did say,
“What have you been doing, boys, all this ere long day?
You’ve not ploughed an acre this long summer’s day.
You’ve not ploughed an acre, I’ll swear and I’ll vow
And you’re all idle fellows that follow the plough.”

I stepped right up to him and made this reply,
“We’ve all ploughed an acre, you tell a damn lie
We have all ploughed an acre, I’ll swear and I’ll vow
And we’re all jolly fellows that follow the plough.”

He turned himself round and he laughed at the joke
“It’s past four o’clock, boys; it’s time to unyoke.
Go home and unharness and rub them down well,
And I’ll give you a jug of my bonny brown ale.”

So come all you fine fellows, where’er you may be,
Pray take this advice, this advice take from me;
Go ne’er fear your masters, but swear and he vow,
You’re all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

Bob Hart sings All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough

Early one morning at the break of day,
The cocks were all crowing, the farmer did say,
“Come rise, me good fellows, come rise with a will
For your horses want something their bellies to fill.”

When five o'clock comes we merrily rise,
And into the stable, boys, quickerly flies.
With rubbing and scrubbing our horses, I vow,
We're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

When six o'clock comes, to breakfast we meet,
Our bread, beef and corn, boys, we heartily eat.
With a piece in our pockets, I swear and I vow,
We're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

We harness our horses, and to plough then we go
To see which of us the best furrow can show.
With our hands in our pockets, like gentlemen we go
As nimbly we step o'er the plains down below.

Now the Master came to us and this he did say,
“You've not ploughed an acre this long summer's day.
You've not ploughed an acre, and I swear and I vow
You're all idle fellows that follow the plough.”

I stepped up to him and made this reply,
“We have all ploughed an acre, so you tell a darn' lie
We have all ploughed an acre, and I swear and I vow
We're not idle fellows that follow the plough.”

He turned himself round and he laughed at his joke
“It's past three o'clock, boys; it's time to unyoke
Unharness your horses and rub them down well,
And I'll give you a jug of my very best ale.”

So all you young fellows, where'er you may be,
Take my advice and be rulèd by me,
Never fear your masters, and I swear and I vow,
We're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

Gordon Syrrett sings All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough

It was early one morning at the break of the day,
The cocks were a-crowing, and the farmer did say,
“Arise my good fellow, arise with good will,
For your horses want something their bellies to fill.”

When five o'clock comes to the stable we're away.
To fill up our horses with corn and with hay,
And with rubbing and scrubbing our horses, I vow,
We're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

When six o'clock comes then our breakfast we meet,
With bread, beef and pork, boys, we heartily eat.
With a piece in our pocket, I'll swear and I'll vow,
We're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

When seven o'clock comes to the fields brave and bold,
To see which of us a straight furrow can hold.
Then with whistling and singing, I'll swear and I'll vow,
We're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.

Then our master comes to us and thus he did say,
“What have been been doing boys all this long day?
For you haven't ploughed an acre, I'll swear and I'll vow,
And you're damn idle fellows that follow the plough.”

But I turned round on him and made this reply,
“We've all ploughed our acres so you tell a lie.
We've all ploughed our acre, I'll swear and I'll vow,
And we're all jolly fellows that follow the plough.”

Then he turned to one side and he laughed at the joke,
“It's past two o'clock, boys and it's time to unyoke.
Un-harness your horses and rub them down well,
And I'll give you a jug of the very best ale.”

So come all young fellows, take warning by me,
And don't fear your master, whoever he may be,
But tell him quite plainly with a curse and a bow
That we're all damn good fellows that follow the plough.

Acknowledgements

Transcribed from the singing of the Watersons by Garry Gillard, with significant assistance from Steve Willis.