> The Watersons > Songs > The Ploughboy

The Ploughboy / We're All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough

[ Roud 346 ; G/D 3:418 ; Ballad Index K241 ; Bodleian Roud 346 ; Wiltshire Roud 346 ; trad.]

May Bradley sang All Jolly Fellows in a recording made by Fred Hamer in Ludlow, Shropshire between 1959 and 1966. It was included in 2010 on her Musical Traditions anthology Sweet Swansea.

Fred Jordan sang We're All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough in a recording made by Bill Leader and Mike Yates in a private room in The Bay Malton Hotel, Oldfield Brow, Altringham, Cheshire in 1966. This was published in 1966 on his Topic album Songs of a Shropshire Farm Worker and in 1998 on the Topic anthology Come All My Lads That Follow the Plough (The Voice of the People Series, Vol. 5). His album's liner notes commented:

Of this song, Cecil Sharp said: “I find that almost every singer knows it; the bad singers often know but little else.” It was published on a broadside by Henry Such, of the Borough, London, which seems to have had a particularly heavy sale through the Cotswolds, where the song has turned up over and again, to sundry tunes. Fred Jordan's tune, however, is distinct from any of those published by Baring-Gould, Sharp, Broadwood, Gardiner and others.

Dave and Toni Arthur sang The Jolly Plough Boys in 1967 on their first duo album, Morning Stands on Tiptoe.

Bob Hart sang All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough at home in Snape, Suffolk in July 1982. This was published a year later on his Topic album Songs from Suffolk. A.L. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Of this song, Cecil Sharp said: “I find that almost every singer knows it. The bad singers often know but little else.” Wherever it's been found the words are almost identical with Bob Hart's set. Such is the power of the broadside text first issued by old James Catnach about 1820 and subsequently imitated by a score of stall-ballad printers. A nineteenth century Top of the Pops.

The Watersons sang this song as The Ploughboy at an EFDSS-sponsored concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London on June 4, 1965, which was released on the LP Folksound of Britain. This recording has also been included in 2004 on the Watersons' 4 CD anthology Mighty River of Song. Their lyrics are somewhat different to Fred Jordan and Bob Hart: the farmer's accusations were moved into a chorus and the fellows in the last line of each verse aren't just jolly but clever, hungry and thirsty.

(Note that Watersons also sang another song they called The Ploughboy [Roud 163], which is better known as The Khaki and the Blue, on their 1966 album A Yorkshire Garland.)

Bob Arnold sang All Jolly Fellows Who Follow the Plough in 1974 on the Argo LP The World of the Countryside.

Jake Walton sang Follow the Plough in 1976 on his, Roger Nicholson and Andrew Cronshaw's Trailer album Times and Traditions for Dulcimer.

Jeff Wesley of Northamptonshire sang All Jolly Fellows Who Follow the Plough in a recording made at Whittlebury by John Howson in 1989. It was published on the Veteran cassette VT116 and was included in 2001 on the Veteran anthology Down in the Fields: An Anthology of Traditional Folk Music from Rural England. John Howson commented in the liner notes:

Cecil Sharp remarked that, “Almost every singer knows All Jolly Fellows Who Follow the Plough: the bad singers often know little else.” Not that Jeff fits into that category of course! In fact his version is unusual as it has an interesting different tune. The more usual tune is in fact a version of the ubiquitous Villikins and Dinah. Sharp was of course right and there are few folk-song collections that don’t include a version of this tune.

Magpie Lane learned All Jolly Fellows that Follow the Plough from the Oxfordshire section of Lucy Broadwood’s English County Songs and sang it in 1994 on their Beautiful Jo album Speed the Plough. Andy Turner included this as the June 16, 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Kate Rusby sang Jolly Ploughboys in 1997 on her CD Hourglass.

The Dollymops from the Isle of Wight sang All Jolly Fellows in 2013 on their WildGoose CD Wight Cockade. They noted:

Island-based historian Alan Phillips tipped us off about this song which was still being sung in Brighstone in the 1950s—in this instance by Bob Cassell, from Brook. Bob Cassell was part of a vigorous West Wight singing tradition centred upon The New Inn at Brighstone and The Sun Inn at Hulverstone. Echoes of this tradition persist in the marvellous singing of Graham Keeping (look out for a forthcoming CD from him on Rod Stradling’s wonderful Musical Traditions label). Our version uses a Hampshire tune and words that were published in Lucy Broadwood’s English County Songs (1893).

Lyrics

Fred Jordan sings We're All Jolly Fellows As Follow the Plough

So early one morning at the break of the day,
The cocks they was crowing; the farmer did say,
“Come arise, young fellows rise up of good will,
For your horses want something their bellies to fill.”

So when four o'clock comes, boys, then up we do rise
And into the stable we merrily flies.
With a rubbing and scrubbing, I'll swear and I'll vow
That we're all jolly fellows that follows the plough.

At six o'clock then our breakfast we seek;
On beef, bread and pork, boys, we heartily eats.
With a piece in our pocket, I'll swear and I'll vow
That we're all jolly fellows that follows the plough.

Then we harness our horses and out we do go,
A trip o'er the clods, boys, as nimble as dough,
And when we gets there then so jolly and bold
To see which of us a straight furrow can hold.

Now, one day the master he came riding by and thus he did say,
“What have you been doing this very long day?
You have not ploughed your acre, I'll swear and I vow
That you're all idle fellows as follows the plough!”

And then I turned around and I made this reply,
“We've all ploughed our acre; You tells a big lie!”
And the master he looked and he laughed at the joke
“Oh, it's past two o'clock, boys, it's time to unyoke.”

“So unharness your horses and we'll rub them down,
And I'll bring you some ale in the jug that is brown.”

So all you young fellows wherever you be,
Come take this advice and be ruled by me:
For fear not your master, for I'll swear and I'll vow
That we're all jolly fellows that follows the plough.

The Watersons sing The Ploughboy on Folksound of Britain

'Twas early one morning at the break of the day,
The young cocks was crowing; the farmer did say,
“Rise up me good fellows and work wi' good will,
For your horses need summat their bellies to fill.”

Chorus (after each verse):
It's oorily oorily oorily ay
What have you been doing this long summer's day?
We ain't ploughed an acre I'll swear and I'll vow
Oh, you're damned idle fellows as follows the plough

At four in the morning we rise from our bed,
Go down to the pump and we douse in our head.
We curry our horses and tak' 'em in tow
'Cause we're damned clever fellows as follows the plough.

At six in the morning it's breakfast time now
And welcome it is I can certainly vow,
With eggs and with bread and a piece of old sow
'Cause we're damned hungry fellows as follows the plough.

We harness our horses, take them to the field,
And a plentiful harvest in time we will yield.
We plough all our furrows all in a straight row
'Cause we're damned clever fellows as follows the plough.

And come eventide then our work it shall end;
It's round to the alehouse to toast an old friend.
Put a gallon o' pint pots all in a straight row
'Cause we're damned thirsty fellows as follows the plough.

Acknowledgements and Links

Transcribed from the singing of the Watersons by Garry Gillard, with significant assistance from Steve Willis.

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req:Damned Idle Fellows That Follow the Plough.