The Lincolnshire Farmer
Download Midi File
Lesley Nelson-Burns

This ballad is a variant of Child Ballad #283 The Crafty Farmer.

This version was collected by R. Vaughan Williams in Norfolk and was printed in Journal of the Folk-Song Society in 1906.

The Crafty Farmer was printed in The Manchester Songster (1792). It was also printed on broadsides as The Crafty Ploughboy or The Highwayman Outwitted throughout nineteenth century. Copies of some of the broadsides can be found at the Bodleian Library.

Variants and alternate titles include: The Yorkshire Famer, Saddle to Rags, The Thief Outwitted and The Silly Old Man. American versions collected included The Yorkshire Bite and The Highwayman Outwitted. Malcolm Laws also related it to The Lincolshire Farmer's Daughter.

The location of the farmer and the boy varied.

For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.

Good people attend and soon you shall hear,
It's of an old farmer lived in Lincolnshire;
A Yorkshire boy he kept for his man,
For to do all his business, as you shall understand.

Now early one morning he called for his man,
For to go to the fair as you shall understand,
Saying Boy, th'old cow you shall take to the fair,
For she is in good order and her I can spare.

Away the boy went with the cow in a band,
To go to the fair, as you shall understand,
As he was going he met with three men,
And he sold his old cow for six pound ten.

Away then they went to an ale-house to drink
And there the three men paid the boy down his clink,
There sat an old highwayman drinking of wine,
Said he to himself 'all that money is mine?

The boy then unto the landlady did say,
What am I to do with my money I pray,
I'll sew it within your coat-lining, said she
For fear on the highway you robbed should be.

The boy took his leave and home he did go,
The highwayman he followed after also,
And soon o'ertook him upon the highway;
0 well overtaken young man' he did say.

Will you get up behind me' the highwayman said,
How far are you going? the poor boy replied
Four miles, and further, for ought that I know:
So it's jump up behind and away they did go.

They rode till they came to a green shaded lane
0 now my young man I must tell it you plain,
Deliver your money, without any strife,
Or else I will soon make an end of your life.

When be found that be bad no time to dispute,
He quickly alighted without fear or doubt.
He tore his coat-lining, the money pulled out,
And all in the long grass he strewed it about.

The highwayman he jumped off from his horse,
But little he thought that it was to his loss,
For while he was gath'ring the money from the grass,
To make him amends he rode off with his horse.

He holloed and shouted and bid him to stand;
The boy would not hear him but still galloped on
Unto his own master, and to him did bring
A saddle and bridle and many a fine thing.

Now as the boy John he was riding home,
The servant was standing all in the front room,
She runs to her master, says she here's a loss
Says she the old cow has turned into a hoss.

The saddlebag was opened, within was a hole,
They took sixty pounds out in silver and gold,
Says the boy to his master I hope you'll allow
That master, dear master, I've well sold your cow?

The boy with his valour and courage so rare,
Three parts of the money he got for his share,
So now the highwayman he's lost a great store,
And he may go robbing until he gets more.

Additional Versions
Related Links
From English County Songs
American Balladry from British Broadsides
See Bibliography for full information.
Also from Steve Roud's Folksong and Broadside Ballad Indexes.