“The Little Cobbler”


The butcher goes to London; his wife takes the cobbler to her bed. When a policeman shows up, she invites him into bed while the cobbler hides beneath. The butcher then arrives with the cobbler still hidden. The butcher finds and punishes the cobbler


The Copper version of this piece appears, from the initial verse, to be very closely related to "The Major and the Weaver" [Laws Q10] . The Kennedy version, however, is distinct. I suspect the Copper version is a cross-fertilization.

Vaughn Williams observed that the piece must be modern (because of the policeman), and remarks "It is a modern example of the kind of fun we find in Chaucer's 'Clerk of Oxenforde.'"

This and similar songs are sometimes traced back to a story in Boccaccio (seventh day, second story: Gianella, Peronella, and her husband). But the story is really one of the basic themes of folktale, and doubtless predates Boccaccio as well as these songs. - RBW

Cross references


  • George Spicer, "The Cunning Cobbler" (on FSB2, FSB2CD)


  1. Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 224-226, "The Little Cobbler" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Kennedy 197, "The Cunning Cobbler" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #174
  4. BI, CoSB224


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1906 (JFSS)
Found in: Britain(England(South))