“Davy Faa (Remember the Barley Straw)”

Alternate titles: “The Barley Straw”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1895 (Baring-Gould)
Keywords: disguise seduction sex trick abandonment money father rape tinker bastard
Found in: Britain(England(South,Lond),Scotland(Aber))

Description

(A man courts a neighbour's daughter by disguising himself as) a tinker. The tinker follows the girl into bed and sleeps with her. (He departs, leaving her with a rich fee, giving his name as Davy Faa/Shaw. Her father seeks a husband for her)

Notes

I've never really been sure whether this song involves rape or not. It's clear that the girl gets the worst of it, though.

It will be observed that the only parts of this song that are constant are the tinker and the seduction. No doubt various attempts at bowdlerization account for some of this, but there does seem to be some mixture involved as well. - RBW

I suggest renaming this main entry; as far as I know, only in one version of the song (Jeannie Robertson's) is the man (or the song) named Davy Faa, while "The Barley Straw" or variants thereon seem relatively common. More important, I'd rather avoid confusion with the more common "Davy Faa", aka "The Gypsy Laddie." Also, the tune given in Kennedy isn't that of "Tramps and Hawkers/Paddy West", and I'm not sure it's been collected from tradition with that tune (Jean Redpath doesn't count.) - PJS

All true, except that the Robertson/Redpath versions seems to be the ones everyone knows. Which is why I used the title I did. And while Robertson's tune is not "Tramps and Hawkers," it has similarities.

Roud lumps this with Child #279, "The Jolly Beggar." The similarity in plot is obvious. So is the dissimilarity in form. - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. Bronson 279, "The Jolly Beggar" (37 versions, but #28 is "Davy Faa (Remember the Barley Straw)")
  2. Kennedy 188, "Remember the Barley Straw" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. DT, DAVYFAA* BARLSTRW
  4. Roud #118
  5. BI, K188