Buy Broom Besoms (I Maun Hae a Wife)
DESCRIPTION: The besom-seller calls his wares, then confesses, "I maun hae a wife, whaso'er she be." He will take anything, e.g., "If that she be bonnie, I shall think it right; If she should be ugly, what's the odds at night?"
EARLIEST DATE: 1900 (Stokoe/Reay)
KEYWORDS: husband wife marriage oldmaid humorous
FOUND IN: Britain(England(North),Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Stokoe/Reay, pp. 20-21, "Buy Broom Buzzems" (1 text, 1 tune)
GreigDuncan3 489, "Buy Broom Besoms" (4 fragments, all consisting of the chorus only; 2 tunes)
DT, BROOMBES* BROOMBES3*
cf. "Fine Broom Besoms (When I Was wi' Barney)" (lyrics)
cf. "The Besom Maker" (chorus)
NOTES: The besom-seller's cry, "Buy broom besoms, wha will buy them noo? (Fine heather ringers), better never grew" is obviously very old, and inspired Burns in 1796 to write "Wha will buy my troggin."
It isn't really a song, though, and it evidently invited completion, as I am aware of at least three texts with this burden:
* I Maun Hae a Wife, probably Scottish, in which the old besom-maker desperately seeks a companion. This humorous text seems to be the best-known of the variants
* The Sam Henry text "Fine Broom Besoms," in which the singer misses Barney
* The Besom Maker, a song of seduction, printed as a broadside.
Volume 38, number 4 of Sing Out! (1994), p. 73 has a conflate modern version (presumably of this, but hard to tell in the circumstances) which declares "The tune is Blind Willie Purvis, born 1752, a Newcastle street singer and fiddler." I assume that should read "The tune is BY Blind Willie Purvis," but I know of no supporting evidence. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.4
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.