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King Arthur's Servants / Three Jolly Rogues of Lynn / Three Sons of Rogues

[ Roud 130 ; G/D 3:704 ; Ballad Index R112 ; trad.]

George ‘Pop’ Maynard sang Three Sons of Rogues at home in Copthorne, Sussex, 1956, where he was recorded by Peter Kennedy for the BBC. This recording was included in 1976 on his Topic album Ye Subjects of England: Traditional Songs from Sussex and in 1998 on the Topic anthology First I'm Going to Sing You a Ditty (The Voice of the People Series, Volume 7). The original album's sleeve notes commented:

Surprisingly The Birds in the Spring only appears ot have been previously collected in Surrey, Sussex and Essex. The repetitive nature of the tune suggests an 18th century stage origin and, like some of Pop's other songs, it is also in the repertoire of the Copper family of Rottingdean in Sussex. Similarly Three Sons of Rogues, often called King Arthur's Sons, is probably a stage remake of The Freemen's Song (Three Men's Song) which appeared in Ravenscroft's Deuteromelia of 1609.

Frank Purlslow and John Pearse sang Three Rogues in 1961 on their Folklore Records EP Bottoms Up! English Soak Songs for Fools.

The Watersons sang King Arthur's Servants in 1965 on New Voices. Like all Watersons tracks from this anthology, it was reissued in 1994 on the CD Early Days. In 1997, it was included as opening track of the 3CD compilation New Electric Muse II - The Continuing Story of Folk into Rock. A.L. Lloyd commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

Versions of this old nursery song are spread from Scotland to Sussex, and it has even cropped up as a ritual piece in one or two sword-dance plays. It's hard to say how old it is, but it seems to have first appeared in print in Gammer Gurton's Garland at the end of the eighteenth century, though doubtless it has been on the go long before then. This particular version of it comes from Northumberland, from Miss M. H. Mason's Nursery Rhymes and Country Songs, and is apparently from family tradition. Miss Mason's mother was of the Mitford (Lord Redesdale's) family, of which the present generation of girls achieved fame (or notoriety) as 'Hons and Rebels'. Miss Mason's version was reprinted in W. G. Whittaker's North Countrie Ballads, Songs and Pipe Tunes and that's where the Watersons got it from.

Cyril Tawney sang Three Scamping Rogues on his 1970 Argo album, Cyril Tawney Sings Children’s Songs from Devon and Cornwall.

Roger Nicholson sang In Good King Arthur's Days in 1972 on his Trailer album Nonesuch for Dulcimer.

Tim Hart and Maddy Prior sang Three Jolly Rogues of Lynn in 1983 on Tim Hart and Friends' album Drunken Sailor and Other Kids Songs. This track was later reissued on the compilation CD Favourite Nursery Rhymes and Other Children's Songs.

Lyrics

The Watersons sing King Arthur's Servants Tim Hart & Maddy Prior sing Three Jolly Rogues of Lynn

In good King Arthur's days
He was a merry king
He threw three servants out of his house
Because they wouldn't sing

In good King Arthur's days
When we served under the king
Lived a miller and a weaver and a little tailor
Three jolly rogues of Lynn

Because they wouldn't sing
Because they wouldn't sing
He threw three servants out of his house
Because they wouldn't sing

Three jolly rogues of Lynn
Three jolly rogues of Lynn
Lived a miller and a weaver and a little tailor
Three jolly rogues of Lynn

The first he was a miller
And the second he was a weaver
And the third he was a little tailor
Three thieving rogues together

Three thieving rogues together
Three thieving rogues together
And the third he was a little tailor
Three thieving rogues together

The miller he stole corn
And the weaver he stole yarn
And the little tailor he stole broadcloth
For to keep these three rogues warm

Now the miller he stole corn
And the weaver he stole yarn
And the little tailor he stole broad-cloth
For to keep those three rogues warm

For to keep these three rogues warm
For to keep these three rogues warm
And the little tailor he stole broadcloth
For to keep these three rogues warm

For to keep those three rogues warm
For to keep those three rogues warm
And the little tailor he stole broad-cloth
For to keep those three rogues warm

The miller he drowned in his dam
And the weaver he hung on his yarn
And the devil put his foot on the little tailor
With the broadcloth under his arm

Now the miller was drowned in his dam
And the weaver was hanged in his yarn
And the devil put his claw on the little tailor
With a broad-cloth under his arm

With the broadcloth under his arm
With the broadcloth under his arm
And the devil put his foot on the little tailor
With the broadcloth under his arm

With a broad-cloth under his arm
With a broad-cloth under his arm
And the devil put his claw on the little tailor
With a broad-cloth under his arm

Now the miller still drowns in his dam
And the weaver still hangs in his yarn
And the little tailor he skips through hell
With a broad-cloth under his arm

With a broadcloth under his arm
With a broadcloth under his arm
And the little tailor he skips through hell
With a broad-cloth under his arm

(repeat first verse)

Acknowledgements

Transcribed from the Watersons' singing by Garry Gillard.