“The Ploughman (II)”


Singer, a ploughman, praises his fellows, his profession and his recreations.


This is a muddled song. As collected in 1904, the singer began with a verse from "The Condescending Lass" (a song in which the lass in question rejects the idea of marrying men of various professions). He veered off immediately, however, into a praiseful description of ploughmen, and the lass is not heard from again. [Vaughan Williams and Lloyd] excised the seemingly-unconnected first verse and assigned the present title (the singer had called it "Pretty Wench"). -PJS

[For that "Pretty Wench" song, see "I am a Pretty Wench." The title "The Condescending Lass" for the poem appears to be known primarily from broadsides; the typical traditional title is either "Pretty Wench" or "I Am a Pretty Wench." - RBW]

To tell this from other songs in praise of farmhands, consider this first stanza:

"A ploughman dresses fine, he drinks strong beer ale and wine

And the best of tobacco he do smoke;

Pretty maids don't think amiss a ploughman for to kiss,

For his breath smells as sweet as a rose, a rose, a rose

For his breath smells as sweet as a rose." - RBW

It appears Roud would have Opie-Oxford2 525, "I am a pretty wench" be the verse excised by Vaughan Williams and Lloyd. Roud has other examples as well under #2538. Opie-Oxford2 notes that this song is in Alfred Williams _Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames_ (1923) and that Vaughan Williams did collect it. If we ever add one of those "The Pretty Wench" songs it should probably considered separate from "The Ploughman." - BS

Cross references

  • cf. "I am a Pretty Wench"


  1. Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, p. 84, "The Ploughman" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. DT, PLOUGHM4*
  3. Roud #2538
  4. BI, VWL084


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1904
Found in: Britain(England(South))