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Jolly Joe the Collier’s Son

[ Roud 1129 ; Master title: Jolly Joe the Collier’s Son ; Ballad Index JRVI066 ; Bodleian Roud 1129 ; GlosTrad Roud 1129 ; Wiltshire 148 ; trad.]

Jolly Joe the Collier’s Son appears to have been popular throughout the south and south west and is found on Midland and Northumberland broadsides, with properly adapted local names. The text below is from a broadside in the Birmingham Reference Library and the singing of Henry Lee, Whitchurch, Hants, June 1906 as noted by H. Gardiner. I found this information and the text in Jon Raven, The Urban and Industrial Songs of the Black Country and Birmingham, Wolverhampton 1977, p. 29.

Tony Rose sang Jolly Joe the Collier’s Son in 1973 on his, Nic Jones’ and Jon Raven’s Trailer album Songs of a Changing World.

James Findlay sang Jolly Joe the Collier’s Son in 2011 on his Fellside CD Sport and Play. He noted:

The text and music for this song could be found in [the] book entitled Songs of a Changing World and heard on an accompanying LP sung by the late Tony Rose. The song seems to pop up in most mining communities around the country. It is a song with strong pastoral images and its industrial ones are quite tenuous. It seems it was popular in both Dorset and Somerset, but this one comes from a text found in Birmingham Library. It tells the story of Joe who catches his woman with another man, one Jack of Armlow Hill. When confronted she breaks down and marries Joe… as you do!


Tony Rose sings Jolly Joe the Collier’s Son

I’m Jolly Joe the Collier’s son, near Oldbury town I dwell.
I’ve courted lasses many a one and loved them all right well.
I courted Nancy, and young Kate, and buxom Nelly too,
But Rachel is the girl I adore and that you soon shall know.

Come all you colliers in this row who delight in a bonny lass,
Who loves to drink good ale that’s brown and sparkles in the glass.
My parents they do frown on me and say that I am to blame
For keeping Rachel’s company, who liveth in Mash Lane.

When I rose up one morning at the dawning of the day,
I like to hear the small birds sing, see the lambs to skip and play.
I took a walk to Oldbury Town, round by the Bilston hill;
And there I ’spied my own true love with Jack of Armlow Mill.

I hid myself behind a shade a distance from whence they came,
He gave her kisses, one, two, three, tot knowing I was there.
I boldly stepped up to them, saying “Rogue, what hast thou done?
I am Jolly Joe the Collier’s son, So you must either fight or run.”

“Hold your hand, dear Joe,” she said, “And no more of that let’s have.
I will be thy servant, slave and wife, till we both go to one grave.”
Then to the church young Rachel went, right sore against her will.
So maidens all, pity my downfall by Jack from Armlow Mill.