“Old Bob Ridley (Hobo Diddle De Ho)”


"When I was young we crossed the mountains, Crossed so many I quit a-countin', Hobo diddle de ho, An' a hobo diddle de ho." "We seen the buffalo a-comin', Seen so damn' many I couldn't count 'em...." "(Ho/oh), (old) Bob (Ridley/Bridely)"


This was a popular minstrel piece that crossed the Atlantic. - PJS

According to the notes in Brown, it became a corn-shucking song in the U. S. The North Carolina versions are certainly very diverse. The British version had talltale elements, with Bob Riddley doing the impossibly in humorous ways. - RBW

Hall, notes to Voice07, re "Young Bob Ridley": "American minstrels first visited Britain and Ireland in the mid-1830s and subsequently local professional and amateur minstrel troupes remained popular until the Great War, contributing tunes and ditties to the traditional repertory."

Broadside Bodleian Harding B 11(358) includes the verse

At boxing I am sure to gain on,

A tousand times I've lick'd Jack Heenan;

And for winding up the belt affairs,

Next I'm going to belt Tom Sayers.

Dis Bob Ridley, oh!

Since John C. Heenan fought Tom Sayers in 1860 the dating of the broadside is certainly incorrect.

Broadside printer John Pitts died April 15, 1844. While the old ballad stock continued to circulate the house name did not continue. (source: Leslie Shepard, _John Pitts: Ballad Printer of Seven Dials, London 1765-1844_ (Private Libraries Association, c.1969), pp. 75,84).

Broadside LOCSinging as110090: J. Andrews dating per _Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song_ by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(358), "Bob Ridley, oh!," J. Pitts (London), 1819-1844; also Firth b.27(30), "Old Bob Ridley O!," unknown, n.d.
  • LOCSheet, sm1853 550030, "Old Bob Ridley," J. E. Boswell (Baltimore), 1853 (tune)
  • LOCSinging, as110090, "Old Bob Ridley, O," J. Andrews (New York), 1853-1859; also cw104110, as110080, "Old Bob Ridley"; sb30400a, "Old Bob Ridley O"


  • Mary Anne Carolan, "Young Bob Ridley" (on Voice07)
  • Henry Griffin, "Holler Jimmy Riley Ho" (on HandMeDown1)


  1. Randolph 499, "Hobo Diddle De Ho" (1 text)
  2. BrownIII 194, "Old Bob Ridley" (4 texts plus an excerpt and mention of 1 more)
  3. ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), p. 162, "(Old Rob Ridley)" (1 short text)
  4. Roud #753
  5. BI, R499


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1853 (broadside, LOCSheet sm1853 550030)
Found in: Britain(England) US(SE,So) Ireland