“Three Maidens to Milking Did Go”


"The maidens to milking did go (x2), And the wind it did blow high and the wind it did blow low And it tossed the milking pails to and fro." The singer asks a friend to help him hunt "birds." The singer wishes luck to blackbird and thrush


Most printed versions of this are "clean," but clearly there is much going on beneath the surface.... - RBW

Indeed, there is. In fact, this is one of the few descriptions of group sex in traditional music -- unless, of course, you count "The Ball at Kerriemuir," and I'd be more inclined to describe that with the word "mob." - PJS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(3968), "Three Maids A Milking Would Go", W. Jackson and Son (Birmingham), 1842-1855; also Harding B 11(3815), "Three Maids A-milking Would Go"


  • Frankie Armstrong, "The Bird in the Bush" (on BirdBush1, BirdBush2)
  • Fred Hewett, "Three Maidens To Milking Did Go" (on Voice10)


  1. Kennedy 191, "Three Maidens to Milking Did Go" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 280-281, "Three Maidens" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. MacSeegTrav 50, "The Bird in the Bush" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 160, "Two Maids Went A-Milking One Day" (1 text)
  5. Roud #290
  6. BI, K191


Alternate titles: “The Blackbird in the Bush”; “The Bird in the Lily-Bush”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1856 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(3968)); tune listed from 1828)
Found in: Britain(England(All),Wales)