MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Three Jolly Butchers
F.Sutton NFLD 2 Tape 4 Track 6
Trepassey Audio:
Ballad

It’s of three jolly butcher boys, a journey took one day
They swore they'd gain ten thousand pounds upon the Queen's highway.

They rode along together, as fast as they could ride
"Oh stop, oh stop," cried young Johnson, "for l hear a woman cry."

"Oh, l won’t stop," cried William. "Nor l won’t stop," cried Brian.
"Then l will stop," cried Johnson, "for l hear a woman cry."

He boldly turned his horse around and searched the green fields all round
Until he found a woman with her hair pinned to the ground.

"What brought you here?" cried Johnson. "What brought you here this way?"
"It was three accursed robbers that have brought me here today.

"They robbed me and they handcuffed me, my hands and feet they bound
And left me here half-naked, with my hair pinned to the ground.

Now, Johnson being a brilliant man, he took her up behind
And took his coat off from his back to shield her from the wind.

They rode along together, as fast as they could ride,
She put her fingers to her lips and gave three mournful cries.

Then out stepped ten bold robbers, with weapons in their hands
They boldly looked at Johnson as they ordered him to stand.

"Oh, l will stand," cried Johnson, "As long as l can stand
For l never was a coward or afraid of any man."

Then out of ten, he nine knocked down. This woman he did not mind
She pulled his knife out from his belt and pierced him through behind.

"Now I must fall, cried Johnson and, falling to the ground,
"It was that accursed woman that gave me my deadly wound."

This woman, she was taken, chained down in irons strong,
For murdering one of the finest men that ever the sun shined on.


Notes


Sources: Laws I4; Greenleaf, 1968; 82, 84 ("Johnson," "The Three Riders"); Karpeles, 1971: 132, 133; Peacock, 1965: 817 ("The Jolly Butchermen"); Leach, 1965: 160 ("Three Boocher Lads"); Roud #17; Randolph, 97; Randolph/Cohen, 74-75; Catskills, 111; Kennedy, 335; Copper-SoBreeze, 254-255; Creighton/Senior, 120-122; Creighton-NovaScotia, 97.

From the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA) Song Index and Song Annotation Collection: Ryan, Sister Theresa Anne MUNFLA 75-147 ("Kings Highroad").

History: Found in the Appalachians and upper United States, Atlantic Provinces of Canada, South England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Text: Johnson, William, and Brian are out riding and they hear a woman cry.   Alone, Johnson decides to search for the woman.   He finds her with her hair pinned to the ground; an atrocity he learns was committed by three robbers.   He aids this helpless woman and carries her on his horse until they come to the robbers.   Johnson kills all of them and then the woman kills him.

Tune : The flattened seventh degree in the melody of this tune gives it a modal feeling (probably Ionian mode).   The form is AB and the metre is 6/8.

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