The History of Lincoln Waites
The Lincolnshire Farmer
Tune: "Fond Boy".
Claude M. Simpson (The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 1966) gives the melody for these words as Fond Boy, as published in the Thesaurus Musicus of 1693 and credited to Thomas Tollett. So although the words of this song may never have been associated with any Waits, Thomas Tollett, who composed the tune, was a Dublin Wait. Broadside ballads were often written to fit an existing well-known tune.
A midi file of the melody without accompaniment can be found at www.mudcat.org - please click the following link to listen:
If you would like to hear my own arrangement of this tune - please click the following link:
The text of this Broadside is almost identical to 'The Enchanted Piss-Pot', a Bodleian example which Roy Palmer quoted in an article he wrote for English Dance and Song (vol. 54, no.1, Spring 1992). The Broadside was printed by Thomas Hughes of Hereford, probably in the closing years of the 18th century. Palmer wrote: "It is a version, with many minor changes in phraseology and the omission of fourteen lines, of 'The Lancashire Cuckold'; or 'The Country Parish-Clerk betray'd by a Conjuror's Inchanted Chamber-pot', to the tune of Fond Boy, which was printed in the 1690s for J. Blare "on London-bridge". This has six-line stanzas but the tune fits the Hereford text if the second couplet of each verse is repeated."
Two more late 17th century copies of "The Lancashire Cuckold" (J. Blare issues) were listed at ZN1600, by Dr W Bruce Olsen, in his broadside ballad index. The C. M. Simpson's tune for it is Fond Boy.
- A Lincolnshire Farmer who had a fair Wife,
- The Clerk of the parish lov'd her as his life,
- In pleasures of love they would frolic and play
- Till her kind loving husband grew jealous they say.
- Then unto a Conjuring man he would go
- To know whether he was a Cuckold or no:
- He told his fair wife he must ride out of town,
- With a sorrowful sigh she began to look down.
- As soon as he was gone, for her gallant she sent,
- To triffle all night in joy and content;
- Before the next morning there came a sad rout
- Which the conjuror had by his charms bro't abut.
- Then unto this Conjuring man he did go
- To know whether he was a Cuckold or no:
- Says the Conjuring man if my counsel you'll take
- Tomorrow I'll please, and good sport I will make.
- There's an old hollow oak half a mile out of town,
- And to keep yourself warm, take your cloak and your gown,
- And in this same oak, you may lodge all the night,
- And tomorrow I'll show you a delicate sight.
- This Conjuring man he got in by his skill,
- Where, there he lay snug as a thief in a mill;
- He fix'd his charms on the piss-pot at last,
- Whoever should touch it, was sure to stick fast.
- The Clerk in the night, to make water did rise,
- The piss-pot was soon lock'd between his two thighs:
- The farmer's fair wife rose up in her shift
- To help her true lover out of his dead lift.
- His delictesse-dil in her right hand she took,
- With her left hand she seiz'd on the side of the pot;
- She lugg'd and she pull'd till her arms did ache,
- But they both stuck as fast as two hairs to a stake.
- Then with her foot for her daughter she knock'd,
- Pretty Nancy immediately rose in her smock;
- O come loving daughter and make no excuse,
- For the piss-pot's bewitch'd and we cannot get loose.
- Pretty Nancy endeavouring to set them free,
- As soon as she touch'd it they stuck fast all three;
- He open'd the door, it then being day,
- With his Conjuring pipes he began to play.
- Strpt nak'd to their shifts, down streets they did prance
- Till they met with a hasty, bold taylor by chance;
- Who would break the piss-pot being lusty and strong,
- But as soon as he touch'd it went dancing along.
- With piping he led them along the high-way,
- Till they came to the place where the old farmer lay;
- Who, hearing the noise, peep'd out of the oak,
- Like a man sore affrighted, those words then he spoke.
- Is it you my friend Richard, our good parish Clerk,
- Is it you that's been kissing my wife in the dark;
- And for the offence I'll be now satisfied,
- Or I'll instantly cut off your nutmegs, he cry'd.
- The Clerk then he offer'd to give him ten pounds,
- He says it's a trespass I owe on your ground;
- But the farmer no less than one hundred would have,
- And the other would give it, his nutmegs to save.
The (Bodleian) version, which has the farmer from Lancashire, is very similar, except for some changes in phraseology in the later Lincolnshire song. Not only would this be to keep pace with any changes in everyday speech that occurred in the 100 years separating the two versions. Another reason for the differences may have been purposeful or accidental changes on the part of the printer. Mistakes can creep in too - for example, it is very difficult to transcribe a whole song accurately from hearing someone singing.
Here are the last two verses from The Lancashire Farmer - to illustrate the differences - and the similarities:
- For of this foul offence, I am not fatisfied,
- I'll whip of your nutmegs, the farmer he cry'd;
- The clerk then directly, did offer ten pounds,
- For to make up the trefspafs, he made on his grounds.
- The farmer no less than a hundred would have,
- The other, he gave it, his nutmegs to fave;
- So they fent for apparel and when they were dreft,
- They went to the alehoufe, and fo ends my jeft.