Wearing of the Britches, The
DESCRIPTION: Singer marries a girl for money, not love; they struggle over who will "wear the britches." She spends all he makes, even though he beats her black and blue. Eventually she dies; "now at last her tongue lies still/And she must wear the wooden britches."
EARLIEST DATE: before 1825 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 28(157))
LONG DESCRIPTION: Singer marries a girl for money, not love, and they struggle over who will "wear the britches." Although she's small, and he can beat her in a fight, she swears she'll wear them; he's a tailor but she spends all he makes, even though he beats her black and blue. When he goes drinking she comes after him, "cursing like a dragon"; she's thrown the teapot at him, putting him on crutches. Eventually she dies; "now at last her tongue lies still/And she must wear the wooden britches." He warns young men to marry for love and work for riches
KEYWORDS: marriage warning fight abuse death burial husband wife shrewishness
FOUND IN: Ireland Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Kennedy 215, "The Wearing of the Britches" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves-Sharp 98, "The Tailor By His Trade" (1 text)
Patrick Keown, "The Wearing of the Britches" (on FSBFTX19)
Joe Tunney, "The Tailor by Trade" (on FSB3)
Paddy Tunney, "The Wearing of the Breeches" (on IRPTunney01); "The Wearing of the Britches" (on Voice15)
Bodleian, Harding B 28(157), "The Breeches" ("Come all ye young men wherever you be"), W. Armstrong (Liverpool), 1820-1824; also Harding B 25(275), "The Breeches"
cf. "The Struggle for the Breeches" (subject)
cf. "Devilish Mary" [Laws Q4] (subject)
cf. "There's Bound to be a Row" (theme)
NOTES [61 words]: This is so close to "Devilish Mary" I was tempted to lump them. But this song's events are different; in this one she dies, in "Devilish Mary" he leaves her. So I split them, but they're close cousins. - PJS
The temptation to lump is indeed strong. Curiously, Kennedy never mentions "Devilish Mary," and Laws never mentions this. I guess that makes them separate. - RBW
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