> Folk Music > Songs > (Come All Ye) Tramps and Hawkers

(Come All Ye) Tramps and Hawkers

[ Roud 1874 ; G/D 3:487 ; Ballad Index K358 ; Mudcat 96122 ; trad.]

Norman Buchan and Peter Hall The Scottish Folk Singer Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl The Singing Island Willie Scott Herd Laddie o' the Glen

Jimmy McBeath sang Come A' Ye Tramps an' Hawkers to Alan Lomax and Hamish Henderson in Elgin, Scotland on 19 July 1951. This recording which was included in ca 1555 on the Columbia anthology The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music—Volume VI: Scotland. This recording and a second one made in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 30 August 1951 were included in 2002 on his Rounder anthology Tramps and Hawkers. A 1959 recording, made by Sandy Folkarde of the School of Scottish Studies at the Scottish National Institution for War Blinded in Linburn, was released in the following year as the title track of his Collector EP Come A' Ye Tramps and Hawkers. Another recording made in Cecil Sharp House in 1966/7 was released in 1967 on his Topic album Wild Rover No More. This recording was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology There Is a Man Upon the Farm (The Voice of the People Volume 20) and in 2018 on the Greentrax anthology Scotland's Voices. Peter Hall noted on McBeath's Topic album:

If Jimmy has a signature tune, this is it. A relatively modern song, it is attributed to Besom Jimmy, an Angus hawker at the end of last century. Our Jimmy learned it from a fellow Gordon Highlander in the trenches during World War I.

It is natural that this song should be popular among singers who have been on the road and quite commonly they identify themselves with it by adding autobiographical verses. However, Jimmy is very conservative in these matters and we may assume, that as he learned it only a decade or two after its composition, his version is close to the original.

Davie Stewart sang Come A' Ye Tramps an' Hawkers in 1956 in Dundee to Peter Kennedy. This recording was included in 1994 on the Saydisc album Songs of the Travelling People. Another recording, made in 1957 by Alan Lomax in his London apartment, was included in 2002 on Stewart's Rounder anthology Go On, Sing Another Song. Peter Kennedy quoted Davie Stewart in Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, p. 802:

I heard it from a traveller called ‘Thumpy’ Mathieson—they called him ‘Thumpy’ 'cause he had two thumbs on each hand. I couldn't tell you where he is now, but he went off to America. At the time he kept a big rag-store in Peterhead and he was a big metal merchant too. I used to go around hawking with him and that's how I learned Tramps an' Hawkers, but all the travellers know it now. It really tells you how it is when you're on the road.

Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor with The Galliards sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1961 on their Decca album Scottish Choice.

Bob Davenport sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1962 on his Topic EP Wor Geordie. This track was also included in 2002 on the Topic anthology The Acoustic Folk Box. Davenport also sang it in 1997 on his Fellside CD The Red Haired Lad, and in 2014 on Liz Giddings and Roger Digby's CD The Passing Moment. Reg Hall noted on the original EP:

Tramps and Hawkers, a Scots come-all-ye dating from the last century, is best known as Jimmy McBeath's song, and here Bob gives it a Geordie treatment. The tune is one of the standard Irish-Scots ballad airs and was recently given a new lease of life with Bridie Gallagher's hit record The Homes of Donegal.

Nigel Denver sang Come All Ye Tramps and Hawkers in 1964 on his eponymous Decca album Nigel Denver. He noted:

First heard sung by Jimmy McBeath, a great street-singing balladeer of Scotland. This song could almost be Jimmy's life story.

Luke Kelly sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1964 on The Dubliners' eponymous first Transatlantic album The Dubliners. This recording was also included in 1966 on the Transatlantic anthology The Best of British Folk Music.

Jim Reid sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1981 on the Foundry Bar Band's eponymous album on the Springthyme label, The Foundry Bar Band.

Bobby Eaglesham sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1982 on his Fellside album Weather the Storm.

Bert Jansch sang Tramps and Hawkers in 1990 on his Run River album The Ornament Tree.

Battlefield Band sang Tramps and Hawkers on their 1995 Temple album Threads and on their 1997 live album Across the Borders. They noted:

This song, about the heyday of the traveller, was very popular in the folk revival of the 50s and 60s. It has a great tune which has also travelled far and wide and been used for many other songs. Alan [Reid] changed some of the words and, thinking movies again, tacked on a first and last verse to make the song a dream sequence. This is to emphasise that it's a song about the past. He typically contradicts himself, however, when he tells us that one of the older travellers, now resident in Kirkintilloch, still comes by his house once or twice a year to hawk her wares, or stop for the blether.

Jack Beck sang Tramps and Hawkers in 2001 on his Tradition Bearers album Half Ower, Half Ower tae Aberdour. He noted:

Here is another song from the repertoire of Jimmy McBeath, yet again bashed about somewhat over the years by me. I have heard this sung as everything from Texas Blues (the Ghost of the San Joaquin) to unaccompanied Scots song.

Old Blind Dogs sang Tramps and Hawkers on their 2001 CD Fit?. Susan Malcolm noted:

Tramps and hawkers were itinerant workers who were an important part of the rural workforce before the lowland clearances of the 20th century, when Scottish agriculture workforce was largely lost to the age of the machine. ‘Bla’ means scraps of wood collected from bushes and fences and carried in sacks.

Ewan McLennan sang Tramps and Hawkers in 2010 on his Fellside CD Rags & Robes. A July 2011 live recording from Cambridge Folk Festival was included in the following year on the DVD Cambridge Folk Festival 2011. He noted:

I first heard a truncated version of this song on a record by Robin Hall, Jimmie Macgregor and the Galliards which was lying around my house when I was growing up. Having since listened to and been inspired by performances of it by Davie Stewart and particularly Luke Kelly, I've changed the feel of the song here from how it's usually sung and from how I'd always sung it in the past. The version I sing here is a compilation of verses I've come across, including the final one pinched from a recording by Bob Davenport.

Francy Devine sang Tramps and Hawkers on his 2020 album An Ownerless Corner of Earth. He noted:

Tramps and Hawkers is a song we all grew up with from The Corries or The Dubliners. The wee verses that bracket this version come from a Battlefield Band recording Threads. Hamish Henderson, in his notes for Come All Ye Tramps & Hawkers (Collector Records, JES 10) says it was “reputed to have been composed by ‘Besom Jimmy’, a much travelled Angus-born hawker” in the nineteenth century. Henderson and Alan Lomax recorded the best-known version from Jimmy McBeath, a settled traveller from Portsoy. They found him in “a model lodging-house in Elgin and brought him to Turriff for recording”. It was “an appropriate venue for Jimmy had for many years been a kenspeckle figure at Porter Fair, the Turra feeing-market”. For Steve [Byrne] and [me], the song marries our collective connections of Angus, Dublin and Glasgow.

Lyrics

Jimmy McBeath sings Tramps and Hawkers

O come a’ ye tramps an’ hawkers an’ gaitherers o’ blaw,
That tramps the country here aroond, came listen een and all.
I’ll tell tae you a rovin’ tale an’ sights that I hiv seen
Far up into the snowy north and south by Gretna Green.

I hiv seen the high Ben Nevis a' towerin’ to the moon.
I’ve been by Crieff and Callander an’ roun’ by Bonnie Doon
And by the Nethy’s silv’ry tides an’ places ill tae ken
Far up into the snowy North lies Urquhart’s bonnie glen.

Aftimes l’ve lauched into mysel’ when I'm trudgin‘ on the road
Wi’ a bag o’ blaw upon my back, my face as broon’s a toad
Wi’ lumps o’ cakes an’ tattie scones on’ cheese an’ braxy ham
Nae thinkin’ whaur I'm comin’ fae nor whaur I’m gaun tae gang.

I’m happy in the summer time beneath the bright blue sky,
Nae thinkin’ in the mornin’ at nicht whaur I’ve tae lie.
Barns or buyres or anywhere or oat among the hay,
And if the weather does permit I’m happy every day.

O Loch Katrine and Loch Lomon’ has a’ been seen by me,
The Dee, the Don, the Devron that hurries into the sea.
Dunrobin Castle by the way I nearly had forgot,
An’ aye the rickles o’ cairn marks the Hoose o’ John o’ Groat.

I’m up an’ roun’ by Gallowa’ or doon aboot Stranraer,
Ma business leads me anywhere, sure I travel near an’ far.
I’ve got a rovin’ notion, there’s nothing what I loss,
An’ a’ my day’s my daily fare and what’ll pay my doss.

I think I’ll go tae Paddy’s land, I’m makin’ up my min’,
For Scotland’s greatly altered now, sure I canna raise the win’.
But I will trust in Providence, if Providence will prove true,
An’ I will sing of Erin’s Isle when I come back to you.

Davie Stewart sings Tramps and Hawkers

O come a' ye tramps and hawker-lads an' gaitherers o' bla'
That tramp the country roun' and roun', come listen one and a'
I'll tell tae ye a rovin' tale, an' places I hae been
Far up into the snowy north, or sooth by Gretna Green.

I've seen the high Ben Nevis that gangs towerin' tae the moon
I've been roun' by Crieff an' Callander an' by Bonny Doon
I've been by Nethy's silvery tide an' places ill tae ken
Far up into the stormy north lies Urquart's fairy glen

Sometimes noo I laugh tae mysel' when dodgin' alang the road
Wi' a bag o' meal slung upon my back, my face as broun's a toad
Wi' lumps o'cheese and tattie-scones or breid an' braxie ham
Nae thinking whar' I'm comin' frae nor thinkin' whar I'm gang.

I'm happy in the summer-time beneath the dark blue sky
Nae thinkin' in the mornin' at nicht where i'm gang to lie
Bothies or byres or barns, or oot amangst the hay
And if the weather does permit, I'm happy a' the day.

Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond, they've oft been seen by me
The Dee, the Don, the Devron, that a' flows tae the sea
Dunrobin Castle, by the way, I nearly had forgot
And the reckless stanes o'cairn that mairks the hoose o' John o' Groat.

I've been by bonny Gallowa', an' often roun' Stranraer
My business leads me anywhere, I travel near an' far
I've got that rovin' notion I wouldna like tae loss
For It's my daily fare an' as much'll pay my doss.

I think I'll gang tae Paddy's Lan', I'm makin' up my mind
For Scotland's greatly altered noo, I canna raise the wind
But if I can trust in Providence, if Providence should prove true
I'll sing ye's a' of Erin's Isle when I come back to you.

Jim Reid sings Tramps and Hawkers

Ah come aa ye tramps and hawkin lads, ye gaitherers o blaw,
That tramps the country roon an roon, come listen ane an aa;
I’ll tell tae you a roving tale o sichts that I hae seen,
Far up intae the snowy north and doon by Gretna Green.

Oft times I’ve laughed untae masel when trudgin on the road,
Ma toe rag roon ma blistered feet, ma face as broon as the toad;
Wi lumps o breid an tattie scones an dauds o braxy ham,
No gie’n a thocht tae whaur I’ve been or yet tae whaur I’m gaun.

I hae seen the high Ben Lomond a-towrin tae the moon,
I’ve been by Crieff and Callander an roon by bonnie Doon;
I’ve seen Loch Ness’s silvery tides an places ill tae ken,
Far up intae the snowy North lies Urquhart’s fairy glen.

An I’ve done my share o humpin wi the dockers on the Clyde,
I’ve helped the Buckie trawlers haul their herrin ower the side;
I’ve helped tae build the mighty bridge that spans the Firth o Forth,
An wi mony an Angus fairmer’s rig I’ve ploughed the bonny earth.

But I’m happy in the summer time beneath the clear blue sky,
No thinkin in the morning whaur at nicht I’m gaun tae lie;
In barn or byre or onywhere, dossin oot amang the hay,
And if the weather keeps me richt I’ll be happy ilka day.

Ewan McLennan sings Tramps and Hawkers

Come all ye tramps and hawker-lads an' gaitherers o' bla'
That tramp the country roun' and roun', come listen aine and a'.
I'll tell to you a roving tale, of places I have been,
Far up into the snowy north, or sooth by Gretna Green.

Oftimes I've laughed unto myself when trudgin' on the road,
My tore rags round my blistered feet, my face as brown as a toad's.
Wi' lums o' cake an' tattie scones Wi' whangs o' braxy ham
No giein a thought frae whaur I come an' less tae whaur I'm gang.

I've done my share o' humpin' wi' the dockers o' the Clyde,
I've helped in Buckie trawlers haul the herrin' o'er the side.
I helped to build the michty bridge that spans the busy Forth
And wi' mony an Angus fairmer's trick I plooed the bony earth.

I'm happy in the summertime beneath the bright blue sky,
No thinkin' in the mornin' where at night I'll hae to lie.
In barn or byre or anywhere dossin' out among the hay
And if the weather treats me right I'm happy every day.

I've been by bonny Gallowa', an' often roun' Stranraer,
My business leads me anywhere, I travel near an' far.
I've got that rovin' notion, I wouldna like tae loss,
For It's my daily fare an' as much'll pay my doss.

I think I'll gang tae Paddy's Lan', I'm makin' up my mind,
For Scotland's greatly altered noo, I canna raise the wind.
But if I can trust in Providence, if Providence should prove true
I'll sing ye's a' of Erin's Isle when I come back to you.

Francy Devine sings Tramps and Hawkers

I dreamed a dreamed the ither nicht, a dream o lang ago.
I saw yin o they Traivellin Fowk alang the open road.
His step wis licht, his heid held high tae catch the scent o spring,
And his voice rang oot the countryside as he began tae sing.

Oh, cam aa ye tramps an hawker-lads, ye gaitherers o’ blaa,
That tramp the country roun an roun came listen ain an aa.
I’ll tell tae ye a rovin tale o sichts that I hae seen
For it's snawy tae the barren north An sooth by Gretna Green.

Aft time I’ve laughed untae tae mysel while trudgin oan the road,
Ma tae-rags roun ma blistered feet, ma face as broon as a toad’s.
Wi’ lumps o’ cake an tattie-scones wi wangs o braxie ham,
Nae giein a thocht tae where I’ve bin an less tae where I’m gannin.

I have seen the high Ben Nevis that gaes toorin tae the moon,
I’ve been roun by Crieff an Callander an’ by the Bonnie Doon.
I’ve stood by Nethy’s silvery tide, aye, an places ill tae ken,
Far up intae the barren north lies Urquart’s fairy glen.

I’ve done ma share o humphin wi the dockers on the Clyde,
I’ve helped them Buckie trawlers haul their herrin ower the side.
I’ve helped tae build that michtie brig that spans the bonnie Forth,
Aye, wi mony an Angus fairmer’s rig I hae ploo’ed the bonnie earth.

I’ve aften bin by Galloway an roun aboot Stranraer,
Ma business taks me onywhere I’ll traivel near an far.
I hae that rovin notion I wouldnae care tae loss,
For it is ma daily fare an as much’ll pay my doss.

I think I’ll gang tae Paddy’s Lan’, I’m makkin up my mind,
For Scotland’s awfy changit an I cannae raise the wind.
I’ll put my trust in Providence an if Providence proves true,
I will sing tae ye o Erin’s Isle when I cam hame tae you.

I am happy in the simmer-time beneath the bricht bloo sky,
Nae thinkin in the mornin whaur at nicht I’ll hae tae lie.
In barn or byre or onywhaur, dossin oot amangst the hay,
And if the weather treats me richt I am happy every day.

When I awoken frae ma dreams the dawn hae’d jist begun,
The wee birds sang their auld, auld sangs tae greet the risin sun.
I lay amang the shadows an I thocht o days land gang,
An those wanderin tramps an hawker lads whose days were suirly done.