Taffy Was a Welshman (I)
DESCRIPTION: "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief, Taffy came to my house And stole a piece of beef." Taffy and the singer engage in a campaign of theft against each other -- e.g. Taffy takes a bone; the singer finds it and beats Taffy with it
EARLIEST DATE: 1842 (Halliwell, according to Opie-Oxford2)
KEYWORDS: abuse food theft
FOUND IN: Britain
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 494, "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief" (2 texts plus a reprint of sheet music from c. 1865)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #67, pp. 72-73, "(Taffy was a Welshman)"
Jack, p. 200, "Taffy Was a Welshman" (1 text)
cf. "Napper" (floating lyrics)
cf. "The Ayrshireman's Lilt" (theme: foreigners living nearby as thieves)
NOTES [172 words]: "Taffy" is an English twisting of the Welsh pronunciation of "David" (Daffyd), the patron saint of Wales.
The English of course had a habit of baiting the Welsh, especially on Saint David's day. And the analogy here is rather exact: When it came to a war of raids, the English -- who had the English law on their side -- could do more damage. Taffy could steal, but the Englishman could not only steal but beat Taffy.
Despite this obvious explanation for the rhyme, Jack offers us a complicated explanation linking Taffy with Amaethon, a Celtic agricultural diety.
It's not clear to me that this is a folk *song*, but the notes in Brown connect it with "Napper," which is, so I thought it had better go in the Index for reference. - RBW
See the following broadside on the same theme:
Bodleian, Harding B 11(3724), "The Welshman" ("Taffy came out of the border of Wales"), unknown, n.d.)
See the following reworked broadside "signed" by J.W. Ebsworth March 1, 1895:
Bodleian, Harding B 11(3724), "Taffy Up To Date," unknown, 1895 - BS
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