> Danny Spooner > Songs > The Tailor's Breeches

The Tailor's Breeches / The Beggar

[ Roud 1610 ; trad.]

Frank Purslow and John Pearse sang The Tailor's Breeches in 1960 on their album of “English folk songs Miss Pringle never taught us”, Rap-a-Tap-Tap.

Derek Sarjeant sang The Brisk Young Tailor on his 1970 album Derek Sarjeant Sings English Folk. He commented in his sleeve notes:

The Hammond brothers, Robert and Henry, toured Dorset on bicycles in 1905 collecting the folksongs of this region; amongst them was this song—also mentioned by Thomas Hardy in one of his novels.

The Union Folk sang The Tailor's Breeches in 1971 on their Traditional Sound album Waiting for a Train.

Derek, Dorothy and Nadine Elliott learned The Tailor's Breeches from the singing of Arthur Wood of Goathland, Yorkshire, collected by Colin Wharton, and sang it in 1976 on their Traditional Sound album Yorkshire Relish.

Brian Osborne sang The Tailor's Breeches in 1976 on his Traditional Sound album Ae Fond Kiss.

Danny Spooner sang The Tailor's Breeches on his 1978 album Canterbury Fair. He noted:

This little song is from the Hammond & Gardiner collection, most of which was gathered in the southwest of England. It shows what can happen to a lad while under the ‘alkafluence of inkahol’. This song was mentioned by Thomas Hardy in one of his novels. Our version appears in the E.F.D.S.S. publication Marrow Bones, whilst another variant tells of a sailor's sojourn in London.

Nick Dow sang The Tailor's Britches in 1990 on his album An Evening of Traditional Songs from Dorset.

Sally Dexter sang The Tailor's Breeches in 1995 on The Mellstock Band's Saydisc CD Songs of Thomas Hardy's Wessex.

Fran Morter sang The Tailor's Breeches on her eponymous 2013 download EP Fran Morter.

John Roberts and Debra Cowan sang The Tailor's Breeches in 2015 on their CD Ballads Long & Short. They commented:

It seems that tailors are rarely treated well in folklore. The Tailor's Breeches, which the wearer manages to lose a little too enthusiastically, is no exception. This Dorset version is shorter than one known in the north of England, and was published by Frank Purslow in Marrowbones, his first selection of songs from the Hammond & Gardiner manuscripts.

Rachael McShane sang Tailor's Britches as a digital download bonus track of her 2018 Topic album with The Cartographers, When All Is Still.

Lyrics

Danny Spooner sings The Tailor's Breeches

Well, it's of a brisk young tailor and a story I'll relate.
He lived at an inn called The Ram and the Gate
The Ram and the Gate were the place where he did dwell
And wine and women's company he loved exceeding well.
    Oh well, oh well, oh well my boys, oh well,
And wine and women's company he loved exceeding well.

Well, this tailor had been drinking a glass or two of wine;
Not being used to drinking, it caused his face to shine.
It caused his face to shine like the rising of the sun,
He swore he'd have a pretty maid before the night were done.
    Were done, were done, etc.

Well, he got himself a pretty maid, he called her his dear honey;
But while they were talking, she was fingering of his money.
Fingering of his money, when the tailor laughed and said
“If you'll lend me your petticoats, I'll dance like a maid.”
    A maid, a maid etc.

So the tailor took his breeches off and the petticoats put on,
The tailor danced a dance and the maid she sang a song;
The tailor danced a dance and they played a pretty tune
They danced the tailor's breeches right out of the room.
    The room, the room, etc.

“Well, were ever a poor tailor been done as I've been done?
My gold watch and my money and my breeches are all gone
And if ever I go out like this, they'll call me ‘garden flower’,
And if ever I get my breeches back I'll never dance no more.”
    No more, no more, etc.

John Roberts and Debra Cowan sing The Tailor's Breeches

It's of a brisk young tailor, a story I'll relate.
He lived at an inn called The Ram and the Gate
The Ram and the Gate was the place where he did dwell
And wine and women's company he loved exceeding well
    So well, so well, so well my boys, so well.
And wine and women's company he loved exceeding well.

One evening this young tailor had been drinking a jug of wine
Not being used to so much drink, it caused his face to shine
It caused his nose to shine like the rising sun
And he swore he'd have a bonny lass before the night was done
    Was done, was done, etc.

So he took her in his arms and he called her his dear honey
While they was a-talking, she was fingering of his money.
Fingering of his money, when the tailor smiled and said
“If you'll lend me your petticoats, I'll dance like a maid.”
    A maid, a maid etc.

So the tailor took his breeches off and the petticoats put on
The tailor danced a dance while the lady sang a song;
The tailor danced a dance while she played a pretty tune
She waltzed the tailor's breeches right out of the room.
    The room, the room, etc.

“Oh, was ever a poor tailor undone as I'm undone?
My watch and my wallet and my breeches are all gone
If ever I dare go out, they'll call me ‘garden flower’
And if ever I get my breeches back I'll never dance no more.”
    No more, no more, etc.