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)
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: 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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