Three Jolly Huntsmen

DESCRIPTION: Three jolly (Frenchmen/Welshmen/other) go hunting. Periodically they see things (barn, frog, moon) which they cannot identify. In each case they propound their theories and move on. Finally they see an owl. One says it is the "evil one"; they flee
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1613 (broadside, "Choice of Inventions, Or Seuerall sort of the figure of three"; earliest complete form 1219?)
KEYWORDS: humorous hunting nonsense
FOUND IN: Britain(England(North,South),Scotland(Aber),Wales) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (35 citations):
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 246-248, "Three Jolly Welshmen" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 77, "We Hunted and Hollered" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Legman-RollMeInYourArms I, pp. 306-307, "Three Jolly Huntsmen" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnold-FolkSongsofAlabama, pp. 88-89, "We Whooped and We Hollered" (1 text, 1 tune)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 119, "Three Jovial Huntsmen, or The Owl and the Jay Bush" (1 text, 1 tune)
Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio 87, "Three Jolly Frenchmen" (1 text)
Grimes-StoriesFromTheAnneGrimesCollection, p. 146, "Three Jolly Hunters" (1 text)
McNeil-SouthernFolkBalladsVol2, pp. 55-57, "Three Jolly Welshmen" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fuson-BalladsOfTheKentuckyHighlands, pp. 183-184, "Three Jolly Welchmen" (1 text)
Bush-FSofCentralWestVirginiaVol3, pp. 5-6, "The Three Irishmen" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Ballard/Brown/Barry-NewGreenMountainSongster, pp. 127-129, "The Three Hunters" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cazden/Haufrecht/Studer-FolkSongsOfTheCatskills 152, "The Three Huntsmen" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 190, "Three Jolly Welshmen" (5 text, but only "A" and "B" go here; the rest are "The Bold Ranger")
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #217, "The Three Huntsmen" (1 text)
Scarborough-OnTheTrailOfNegroFolkSongs, pp. 57-58, "So We Hunted and We Hollered," "Old Circus Song" (2 texts, the second from a newspaper)
Flanders/Brown-VermontFolkSongsAndBallads, pp. 125-126, "We Hunted and We Hallooed" (1 text)
Linscott-FolkSongsOfOldNewEngland, pp. 290-292, "Three Jovial Huntsmen" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 2, "Cape Ann" (1 text, 1 tune)
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames, pp. 179-180, "Twas of Three Jolly Welshman" (1 text) (also Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 403)
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 306, "Three Men Went A-Hunting" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hamer-GreenGroves, pp. 37-38, "The Englishman, Irishman And Scotsman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Karpeles-TheCrystalSpring 125, "Three Jolly Hunstmen" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gardham-EastRidingSongster 18, pp. 24, 49, "Three Men They Went a Yunting" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia 93, "Three Men Went A-Hunting" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood-NewLostCityRamblersSongbook, p. 168, "Three Men Went A-Hunting" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-TreasuryOfNewEnglandFolklore, pp. 529-530, "Cape Ann" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 165, "The Three Farmers" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #31, p. 2, "The Hedgehog" (1 fragment)
Greig/Duncan2 283, "The Hedgehog" (2 fragments, 1 tune)
Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 524, "There were three jovial Welshmen" (5 texts plus a reproduction facing p. 422 of the 1632 broadside "Choice of Inventions")
Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #348, pp. 183-184, "(There were three jovial Welshmen)"
Newell-GamesAndSongsOfAmericanChildren, #34, "There were Three Jolly Welshmen" (2 texts)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 243, "Cape Ann" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: James P. Leary, Compiler and Annotator, _Wisconsin Folklore_ University of Wisconsin Press, 2009, article "The Wanigan Songbook" by Isabel J. Ebert, pp. 214-215, "Three Happy Hunters" (1 text, sung by Emory DeNoyer)

Roud #283
Jack Elliott, "We Went Along a Bit Further" (on Elliotts01)
George Endicott, "Three Scamping Rogues" (on FieldTrip1)
A. L. Lloyd, "Three Drunken Huntsmen" (on Lloyd12)
Byrd Moore & his Hot Shots, "Three Men Went A-Hunting" (Columbia 15496-D, rec. Oct. 23, 1929, sung to the tune of "Wish I'd Stayed in the Wagon Yard"; on Ashley04)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Three Men Went a-Hunting" (on NLCR03)
Hywel Wood, "Three Men Went a-Hunting" (on FSB10)

cf. "The Bold Ranger" (theme, some lyrics)
cf. "The Wild Cat Back on the Pipe Line" (theme, form)
We Hunted and We Halloed
Look Ye There, Now
Three Jolly Hunters
The Three Huntsmen
Twas of Three Jolly Welshmen
Three Jovial Welshmen
NOTES [187 words]: What appears to be a stanza of this piece is quoted in the Shakespeare/Fletcher play "The Two Noble Kinsmen" (c. 1611). In III.v.67-71, immediately after singing a snatch of "The George Aloe and the Sweepstake," the mad jailer's daughter sings,
There was three fools, fell out about an howlet,
The one sed it was an owl, the other he sed nay,
The third he sed it was a hawk,
and her bels were cut away.
A stanza in William Davenant's 1668 play "The Rivals" seems to be on the same theme, though it uses a different metrical pattern:
There were three Fools at Mid-summer run mad
About an Howlet, a quarrel they had.
The one said 't was an Owle, the other he said nay,
The third said it was a Haek but the Bells were cutt away. - RBW
Where Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames has "an owl in an ivy bush, and that they left behind. The first man said it was an old cow ....", Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO has"an owl up in the ivy, and that they left behind. The first man said it was a shepherd's house ...." - BS
The "Cape Ann" versions of the song should not be confused with Gordon Bok's recent composition of the same name. - PJS
Last updated in version 6.0
File: R077

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