Three Acres and a Cow
DESCRIPTION: "You've heard a deal of talk about three acres and a cow, And if they mean to give it to us, why don't they give it to us now?" The singer is upset and broke. He repeatedly asks for some sort of relief and fairness, but says land and cow would be enough
EARLIEST DATE: before 1918 (broadside Bodleian, Firth c.16(305))
KEYWORDS: farming hardtimes money
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Palmer-Painful, #21, "Three Acres and a Cow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Bodleian, Firth c.16(305)=Firth c.16(332) "Three Acres and a Cow" H. Such (London), 1886-1917
cf. "I Wish They'd Do It Now" (tune)
NOTES: There is another Bodleian broadside entitled "Three Acres and a Cow"; obviously it is about the same topic, but it isn't the same song; it begins "I'm only just a labourer, Just Agricultural," with a chorus that begins "And I've got three acres, Three acres and a cow"; it is a humorous song about how the three acres and a cow aren't doing him any good.
Incidentally, the proposal to give everyone in England three acres and a cow (attributed to one Jesse Collings in the 1880s) was not possible. Online sources say that Great Britain has a total area of 51.68 million acres, and at the 1901 census, Britain had 38.2 million people. So at the time, each person could have been given at most one and a half acres. (Today, it's down to about .75 acres). To be sure, the proposal probably means three acres PER FAMILY, not PER PERSON, but much of Britain is not tillable land. So although it would have been theoretically possible to hand out three acres to every family, each family would get a lot of useless land (or some would get good and some bad), and they still wouldn't be able to make a living. - RBW
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