DESCRIPTION: The gaffer gives his girl an expensive ring and warns "beware of the navvy." The navvy gives her a cheap ring and gown to lie with him. She has a baby and goes to find her navvy who's "on the spree." They marry.
EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (GreigDuncan5)
KEYWORDS: courting marriage ring sex pregnancy railroading
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Greig #118, p. 3, ("Oh, I'll get ribbons to my hair") (1 fragment)
GreigDuncan5 977, "The Navvy" (7 texts, 5 tunes)
The Navvy Lad
NOTES: The alternate title of "Donald Duff" is from lines common to four of the GreigDuncan5 texts: "And I'll gang to see my navvy lad He works wi' Donal Duff."
The "gaffer," in this case may be the employer or foreman (source: Webster's Third New International Dictionary) and the navvy is the railroad worker. You can get some information on "The Navvy Age" in the notes to "The Roving Newfoundlanders (II)" [as the navvies moved to Canada], and, about their reputations as rakes in "The Courting Coat," "The Navvy Boy" and "Navvy on the Line."
GreigDuncan5 quoting Gillespie: "Heard often in Savoch district, when the Buchan railway was being made. Introduced by navvies. Noted 1906." 1858: "The Formartine and Buchan Railway Act was passed approving the building of the railway line to Peterhead with a branch line from Mintlaw to Fraserburgh." (source: "Some dates in the history of Peterhead" at danielsd demon uk site; also Records of British Railways Board Formartine and Buchan Railway 1855-1858, at National Archives of Scotland site.) - BS
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