The Pretty Ploughboy
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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Lyrics
The Pretty Ploughboy was printed on a broadside by Burbage and Stretton sometime between 1797 and 1807. It appeared on numerous broadsides throughout the 19th century. Several of these can be found at the Broadside Ballads Online.

W. Percy Merrick collected this version of The Pretty Ploughboy in Sussex. The version collected was incomplete and was supplemented by verses from broadsides and versions collected by others. The arrangement is by R. Vaughan Williams.

The song was also known as The Jolly Ploughboy, The Simple Ploughboy and Little Plowing Boy. It was collected by Rev. S. Baring-Gould and others throughout England. It was also collected in Scotland, Limerick, North Carolina, Virginia and Nova Scotia.

It's of a pretty ploughboy, stood gazing over his team
Where his horses stood underneath the shade,
The wild youth goes whistling, goes whistling to his plough,
And by chance he used to meet a pretty maid.
A pretty maid, and by chance he used to meet a pretty maid.

If I should fall in love with you, it's my pretty maid,
And when your parents came for to know
The very first thing will be, they will send me to the sea;
They will send me in the wars to be slain!
To be slain, they will send me in the wars to be slain!

Now when her aged parents they came for to know,
The ploughboy was ploughing on the plain.
The press-gang was sent and they pressed her love away
And they sent him in the wars to be slain.
To be slain, and they sent him in the wars to be slain.

'Twas early the next morning when she early rose,
With her pockets well lined with gold.
See how she traced the streets, with the tears all in her eyes,
In search of her jolly ploughboy bold.
Her jolly poughboy bold, in search of her jolly ploughboy bold.

The very first she met was a brisk young sailor bold.
Have you seen my pretty ploughboy? 0 she cried.
He's gone unto the deep, he's a-sailing in the fleet,
Will you ride, pretty maid, will you ride?
Will you ride, will you ride, pretty maid, will you ride?

She rode till she came to the ship her love was in,
Then unto the captain did complain.
Said she I've come to seek for my pretty ploughboy
That is sent to the wars to be slain.
To be slain, that is sent to the wars to be slain.

She took out fifty guineas and trotted them on the floor
And gently she told them all o'er,
And when she'd got her ploughboy all safe in her arms
Then she rowed the pretty ploughboy safe on shore.
Safe on shore, then she rowed the pretty ploughboy safe on shore.

Related Links
From English County Songs and
American Balladry from British Broadsides
See Bibliography for full information.
Also from Steve Roud's Broadside Index.