“When Jones's Ale Was New”


Stories from Jones's Bar. Various drinkers come in, each with his tale or his unruly behavior or his demand. Most are hard workers whose burdens are relieved by the ale.


The song was sung by the "jolly boys" (pace-eggers) in Overton, Lancs, as part of their Easter house-to-house ritual. - PJS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Douce Ballads 1(105b), "Joan's Ale is New"["Jones" in the text], T. Vere (London), 1644-1680; also Douce Ballads 1(99b), "Joan's Ale is New"["Jones" in the text]; Harding B 28(139), "Joan's Ale"["Joan's" in the text]; Harding B 11(652), "When John's Ale Was New"; Harding B 16(336b), "Joan's Ale Was New"["Joan's" in the text]; 2806 c.18(169), "Joan's Ale is New"["Joan's" in the text]
  • Murray, Mu23-y2:014, "When John's Ale was New," Poet's Box (Glasgow), 19C


  • Bob & Ron Copper, "The Jovial Tradesman" (on LomaxCD1700); "The Jovial Tradesman" (on FSB3)
  • Fred Jordan, "When Jones's Ale Was New" (on Voice13)
  • John M. (Sailor Dad) Hunt, "When Jones's Ale Was New" (AFS, 1941; on LC27)


  1. Doerflinger, pp. 168-169, "When Johnson's Ale Was New" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Ford-Vagabond, pp. 273-277, "When John's Ale Was New" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 284-285, "Four Jolly Fellows" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Kennedy 287, "When Jones's Ale Was New" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Combs/Wilgus 166, pp. 132-133, "The Jovial Tinker (Joan's Ale is Good)" (1 text -- a heavily modified version with a floating first verse and a final verse that may imply a Civil War setting)
  6. Paterson/Fahey/Seal, pp. 245-248, "When Jones's Ale Was New" (1 text plus an excerpt from a British broadside)
  7. Silber-FSWB, p. 231, "Johnson's Ale" (1 text)
  8. BBI, ZN2502, "There was a jovial Tinker"
  10. Roud #139
  11. BI, Doe168


Alternate titles: “Jone's ale is newe”; “When John's Sail Was New”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1594 (stationer's register)
Found in: US(Ap,MA) Britain(England(All),Scotland) Australia