“The Beggar Wench”


A merchant's son meets a beggar girl; they go to bed and, being drunk, sleep soundly. She awakens first, takes his clothes and gear, and leaves. He awakes to find only the girl's clothes, which he puts on, swearing never to sleep with a beggar again


The plot is, of course, virtually identical to "The Shirt and the Apron" -- but as the protagonist is a merchant rather than a sailor, and the lady is a beggar, they get split. - PJS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 6(48), "The Merchant's Son, and the Beggar Wench of Hull ("You gallants all, I pray draw near"), J. Turner (Coventry), 1797-1846; also Douce Ballads 4(5), Douce Ballads 3(66b), "The Merchant's Son, and the Beggar-Wench of Hull"


  • Davie Stewart, "The Merchant's Son [and the Beggar Wench]" (on FSB2, FSB2CD, Voice13)


  1. Kennedy 338, "The Beggar Wench" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Flanders-Ancient1, p. 242, "Willie's Lyke-Wake" (1 fragment, two lines only, the second line of which is found in Child's "C" text of "Willie's Lyke-Wake" [Child 25], but a similar line is found in "The Beggar Wench," and the first line of this fragment, "Kind sir, if you please," may fit better with this piece)
  4. Roud #2153
  5. BI, K338


Alternate titles: “The Merchant and the Beggar Wench”; “The Merchant's Son”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1847 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 6(48))
Found in: Britain(Scotland)