A-Rovin'

DESCRIPTION: In this cautionary tale, a sailor meets an Amsterdam maid, fondles portions of her body progressively, has sex with her, and catches the pox. She leaves him after he has spent all his money.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1887 (College Songs)
KEYWORDS: bawdy disease sailor warning whore
FOUND IN: Britain(England,Scotland(Aber)) US(MA,NE,So,SW) Australia
REFERENCES (20 citations):
GreigDuncan7 1479, "A-Rovin', A-Rovin'" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Walton/Grimm/Murdock, pp. 36-38, "A-Roving" (1 composite text, 1 tune)
Colcord, pp. 87-88, "A-Roving" (1 text, 1 tune)
Harlow, pp. 49-52, "A-Roving" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Hugill, pp. 48-52, 101, "A-Roving" (6 texts plus 3 fragments, 4 tunes; the 5th text is "Go Rowing," a 1916 Norwegian adaptation by Henrik Wergelands taken from Brochmann's "Opsang Fra Seilskibstiden." p.101 is a version of "A Long Time Ago") [AbrEd pp. 46-48]
Sharp-EFC, XXV, pp. 28-29, "A-Roving" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cray, pp. 64-67, "A-Rovin'" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph-Legman I, pp. 124-125, "The Maid of Amsterdam" (1 text, 1 tune)
Doerflinger, pp. 56-58, "A-Roving" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Bone, pp. 99-103, "Amsterdam" (1 censored text, 1 tune)
Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 80-81, "Maid of Amsterdam (A-Roving)" (1 text, 1 tune)
Linscott, pp. 125-130, "Amsterdam" [1 fragment, 1 tune, censored by the informant)
Meredith/Covell/Brown, p. 96, "A-roving" (1 text, 1 tune)
Finger, pp. 156-157, "The Amsterdam Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
JHJohnson, p. 51, "The Amsterdam Maid" (1 text)
Fireside, p. 168. "A-Roving" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 89, "A-Roving" (1 text)
DT, AROVIN1* AROVIN2*
ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "A'Rovin" is in Part 1, 7/14/1917.
ADDITIONAL: Henry Randall Waite, _College Songs: A Collection of New and Popular Songs of the American Colleges_, new and enlarged edition, Oliver Ditson & Co., 1887, p. 80, "A-Roving!" (1 text, 1 tune, probably cleaned up as the girl merely causes the man to spend all his money) (part 3, p. 74 in the 1876 edition)

Roud #649
RECORDINGS:
Richard Maitland, "A-Roving" (AFS, 1939; on LC26)
Stanley Slade & chorus: "A'Roving" (on Lomax41, LomaxCD1741)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Fire Ship" (plot) and references there
cf. "All Under the New Mown Hay"
cf. "Yo Ho, Yo Ho" (theme, lyrics)
cf. "Tickle My Toe" (theme)
cf. "The Girl in Portland Street" (plot, theme)
cf. "Baltimore (Up She Goes)" (theme)
cf. "Ye Wanton Young Women" (theme, chorus lines)
NOTES: This is a partial formula song in that the sailor begins at the knee, moves up to the thigh, and then to the "snatch." See "Yo Ho, Yo Ho" ("I Put My Hand") for extended treatment of this formula. - EC
Some similar lines are found in Thomas Heywood's "The Rape of Lucrece" (c. 1607), and Shay traces this piece back to that time (Masefield also accepts, and may have originated, this identification), but Doerflinger states that they are not the same song.
The version collected by Meredith from Wally Marshall has an unusual ending; when the singer places his hand upon the girl's breast, she breaks wind, seemingly causing him to abandon the venture.
In College Songs (1887), there is a song "Rig-a-jig," with verses "As I was walking down the street, Heigho (x4), A pretty girl I chanced to meet...." "Said I to her, 'What is your trade?' ... Said she to me, 'I'm a weaver's maid.'" I suspect dependence, but the song ends after two verses, so it is not clear how it proceeded. Or, rather, I suspect it IS clear but the song has been cleaned up by excision. - RBW
Roud assigns #7181 to the GreigDuncan7 fragment, which changes the sex of the object, viz., "I'll gang nae mair a rovin' wi' you, young man." The fragment of the chorus gives no idea of the rest of the song so I have chosen to lump this text with the common "A-Rovin'." - BS
Last updated in version 4.0
File: EM064

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