“There Was an Old Miser”


The old miser's daughter is courted by a sailor. When the miser finds out, he pays a captain to impress the boy. The girl fails to save the boy, but his ship is wrecked and he escapes to shore almost alone. He finds the girl; they are married.

Supplemental text

There Was an Old Miser
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Norman Cazden, Herbert Haufrecht, Norman Studer, Folk Songs
of the Catskills, #48, pp. 188-189. From the singing of Walt Wermouth.

There was an old miser in London did dwell,
Had a comely fine daughter, a beautiful girl,
And when this old miser was out of the way,
She was courted by a sailor lad by night and by day.

And when this old miser came this for to know,
Down to a sea captain straight away he did go,
Saying, "Captain, bold captain, I have good news to tell,
I have a young sailor boy in transport to sell.

(6 additional stanzas)


Although this song shows many similarities to Laws N6 (plus a slight similarity to "William and Harriet," Laws M7), Cazden et al consider the ending sufficiently different that they regard it as a separate ballad. Since the policy of this index is to split rather than lump, here it stands.

Roud, interestingly, lumps it with Laws N10, "The Silk Merchant's Daughter." - RBW

Chris Willett's version on Voice04 and Bodleian broadsides 2806 c.16(16) and Johnson Ballads 572 include the verses in the [Supplemental Tradition text, from Cazden et al] but omit the ending: no shipwreck or happy ending. - BS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, 2806 c.16(16), "Old Miser" ("It's of an old miser in London did dwell"), Swindells (Manchester), 1796-1853; also Johnson Ballads 572, "The Old Miser"


  • Chris Willett, "The Old Miser" (on Voice04)


  1. FSCatskills 48, "There Was an Old Miser" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST FSC048 (Partial)
  3. Roud #3913
  4. BI, FSC048


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1854 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 c.16(16))
Found in: US(MA) Britain(England(Lond))