“The Hard Times of Old England”


Singer tells that the trade has gone; if you go to a shop without money, you can't buy. If you ask for a job, there is none; tradesmen walk the street looking for work; soldiers and sailors have come home to starve. He hopes the hard times will not last.


Kennedy seems to think that this song arose in the recession following a war, since sailors and soldiers were returning home to find no work. But the British military did not institute a true draft until World War I; the size of the military stayed relatively constant. And economic trouble was constant in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century; the population was growing faster than the system could expand. So this could be just a song of falling standards of living. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "Rigs of the Time" (subject)


  1. Kennedy 224, "The Hard Times of Old England" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #1206
  4. BI, K224


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1955 (recorded from Ron Copper)
Found in: Britain(England(South))