The song collector Cecil Sharp said of this song, “I find that almost every singer knows it; the bad singers often know but little else.” It’s a broadside ballad published by Henry Such of the Borough, London. The song may have originated in Somerset, but this is uncertain. Here’s a melancholy version by Kate Rusby.
Alternate titles: The Ploughboy; We’re All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough
The Jolly Plough Boys
‘Twas early one mornin’, at the break of the day
The cocks they were crowing and the farmer did say,
Rise up my jollw fellows, arise with good will,
Your horses want something their bellies to fill.
When four o’clock came me boys, it’s up we did rise,
And off to the stable we merrily flies
With a rubbin’ and a-scrubbin’ our horses we’ll go,
For we’re all jolly fellows what follers the plough
When siz o’clock cam me boys, at breakfast we met
Of cold beef and pork we heartily ate
With a piece in our pocket, I’ll swear and I’ll vow,
That we’re all jolly fellows that follows the plough.
Our farmer came to us, and this ‘e did say,
What have you been doin’ boys all this long day
You ‘ave not ploughed yer acre, I’ll swear and I’ll vow,
You are all lazy fellows what follows the plough.
Our carter turns round, and he thus makes reply,
We ‘ave all pploughed our acre, you ‘ave told us a lie.
We ‘ave all ploughed our acre, I’ll swear and I’ll vow,
We are all jolly fellows that follows the plough.
Our master turns round and he laughs at the joke
It is gone two o’clock boys, it’s time to unyoke.
Unharness your horses, and rub them down well
And I’ll give you a jug of my very best ale.
So come all you jolly plough boys where ever you be,
Come take my advice and be ruled by me
Never fear you jolly masters where ever you go,
For we’re all jolly fellows that follows the plough.