> The Halliard > Songs > The Calico Printer’s Clerk

The Calico Printer’s Clerk

[ Roud 13210 ; G/D 8:1900 ; Ballad Index GrD81900 ; Bodleian Roud 13210 ; DT CALPRINT ; Mudcat 5232 , 114888#6 ; words Harry Clifton, music Dave Moran]

Dave Moran sang The Calico Printer’s Clerk to his own tune on the Halliard’s and Jon Raven’s shared album, The Halliard : Jon Raven. It was originally published in 1968 and was reissued on CD in 1997. Steve Winick commented in a review of the re-released album in the magazine Dirty Linen:

The Halliard tracks on this CD are all very nice, and a couple stand out as quite brilliant. The Calico Printer’s Clerk is a broadside ballad unearthed by the group in the Preston reference library and set to a tune by [Dave] Moran. It tells the tale of a twee young gentleman, a cruel but beautiful young lady, and the eponymous clerk, who quite literally waltzes off with the girl in the end. It is full of rich, period detail from the 1860s, including lines like the gentleman’s remark: “I was dressed in the pink of fashion; me lavender gloves were new.” It also details the trendy dances of the time, mentioning schottisches, varsoviennes, polkas, mazurkas, waltzes, and circassians as it relates its sadly comical tale.

In 2005, this recording was included in the Halliard’s CD Broadside Songs.

This song is also printed in Mike Harding’s book Folk Songs of Lancashire, Manchester: Whitethorn Press, 1980, p 18.

Harp and a Monkey sang Calico Printer’s Clerk on their 2019 album The Victorians. They noted:

An old Lancashire favourite, this broadsheet ballad (1863) is part of a collection held in Preston. The tune that most people use was written by Dave Moran during the 1960s when performing with folk trio The Halliard. We too used this version as our starting point, before adding new elements. We love the fact that the hapless narrator’s rival works in Calico—a popular material that had brought great wealth and respectability to many northern families in the Georgian era, including that of Robert Peel, who would go on to become Prime Minister. In fact, Peel’s Lancashire accent was regularly mocked (behind his back) by many of his parliamentary contemporaries.


Dave Moran sings The Calico Printer’s Clerk

In Manchester, that city of cotton twist and twills,
There lived the subject of my song, the cause of all my ills.
She was handsome, young and twenty, her eyes were azure blue
Admirers she had plenty: her name was Dorothy Drew.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
She was very fond of dancing, but allow me to remark
That one fine day she danced away with the calico printer’s clerk.

At a private ball I met her in eighteen sixty-three;
I never will forget her, though she was unkind to me.
I was dressed in the pink of fashion, my lavender gloves were new,
And we danced the Valse Circassian, with charming Dorothy Drew.

We schottisched and we polkad to the strains the band did play;
We waltzed and we mazurkad till she waltzed my heart away.
I whispered in this manner, as around the room we flew
And doing the Varsovianna, that: “I love you Dorothy Drew.”

For months and months, attention unto her I did pay
Till, with her condescension, she led me quite astray.
The money I expended, I’m ashamed to tell to you
I’ll inform you how it ended with myself and Dorothy Drew.

I received an intimation she a visit meant to pay
Unto some dear relations who lived some miles away.
In a month she’d be returning, I must bid a short adieu
But her love for me was burning, deceitful Dorothy Drew.

At nine o’clock next morning to breakfast I sat down
The smile my face adorning it soon changed to a frown.
For in the morning papers, a paragraph met my view
That Jones, the calico printer’s clerk, had married Dorothy Drew.