Cobbler (I), The
DESCRIPTION: The singer, cobbler (Dick Hobson), comes from a questionable family and leads a questionable life. The song may end with an account of how he became free of his "lumpy" wife: I dipped her three times in the river / and carelessly bade her goodnight"
EARLIEST DATE: 1731 (ballad opera, "The Jovial Crew")
KEYWORDS: abandonment rambling bawdy
FOUND IN: US(MA,MW,NE,Ro,So,SW) Britain(England,Scotland(Aber)) Ireland Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (16 citations):
Randolph 102, "Dick German the Cobbler" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 133-135, "Dick German the Cobbler" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 102A)
Randolph-Legman I, ppp. 516-517, "Dick Darlin' the Cobbler" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Fubbard, #173, "Dick Darbin the Cobbler" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Olney, pp. 176-177, "Hobson, the Cobbler" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders-NewGreen, pp. 223-224, "Old Hewson, the Cobbler" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gardner/Chickering 180, "Rusty Old Rover" (1 fragment, probably this piece); also 181, "Me Father Is a Lawyer in England" (2 short texts, 2 tunes, both very mixed; "A" has the first verse of "Me Father Is a Lawyer in England,"; the second is "Me father is a hedger and ditcher, and the third and the chorus are from "The Cobbler"; the "B" text is also clearly mixed though the elements are less clear)
GreigDuncan3 483, "Dick Dorbin the Cobbler" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
Kennedy 222, "Fagan the Cobbler" (1 text, 1 tune)
OCroinin-Cronin 98, "My Name Is Bold Hewson the Cobbler" (1 text)
Cray, pp. 111-113, "(My Name Is) Dick Darby, the Cobbler" (1 partial text, 1 tune)
MacSeegTrav 42, "My Faither Was Hung for Sheep-Stealing" (1 text, 1 tune)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #475, p. 32, "Dick Darlin' the Cobbler" (1 reference)
Gilbert, pp. 78-79, "Dick Darlin'" (1 text)
Chappell/Wooldridge II, pp. 163-164, "Old Hewson the Cobbler" (1 tune with no text, but presumably a version of this)
DT, DICKDARB* DICKDAR2
Johnny Cassidy, "Dick Daglen the Cobbler" (on IRCassidyFamily01)
Mrs. K. McCarthy, "Jack Johnston the Cobbler" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Lawrence Older, "Jed Hobson" (on LOlder01)
Wickets Richardson & chorus, "Fagan the Cobbler" (on FSB3)
Bodleian, 2806 b.10(81), "Dick Darling the Cobbler" ("My name is Dick Darling the cobbler"), H. Such (London) , 1849-1862; also Harding B 11(891), Harding B 20(38), "Dick Darling the Cobbler"
LOCSinging, sb10093b, "Dick Darlin' the Cobbler" ("Och! my name is Dick Darlin' the cobbler"), H. De Marsan (New York), 1864-1878
cf. "My God, How the Money Rolls In"
cf. "Haben Aboo an' a Banner" (theme) and references there
Dick Darby, the Cobbler
NOTES [547 words]: Chappell/Wooldridge report "The words of this song have not been recovered; but there can be little doubt that they were a political satire upon Colonel Hewson, who was one of Charles I's judges, and of those who signed his death-warrant.
"John Hewson was originally a cobbler, and had but one eye. He took up arms on the side of the parliament.... He was knighted by Cromwell, and afterwards made one of his Lords. He quitted England immediately before the Restoration, and died at Amsterdam in 1662."
The above may be taken with as many grains of salt as you desire.
This clearly circulated in both clean and dirty versions, and all shades in between (e.g. in the Flanders/Olney version, the third line reads, "They call me an old fornicator," but the rest is clean).
For one of the more extreme versions, see "Haben a Boo and a Banner" (DT DICKDAR3) - RBW
See Tim Coughlan, Now Shoon the Romano Gillie, (Cardiff,2001), #162, pp. 413-416, "My Manishi's Rumpy and Tumpy" [Scotto-Romani/Tinklers' Cant fragment from M'Cormick, The Tinkler-Gypsies (1906)]. - BS
The Bodleian and LOCSinging broadsides mix a story in with the verses. This might reflect the way broadside songs were frequently delivered in the streets and at fairs. Elbourne (Roger Elbourne, Music and Tradition in Early Industrial Lancashire 1780-1840 (Totowa, 1980), p. 73) notes: "In cities or towns the broadside was sold at stalls or fair booths, and by countless small shopkeepers. They were also hawked by street singers. The 'chaunter' sang and sold his songs through the streets of city, town and village, on street corners, at country fairgrounds, wakes or executions. A 'patterer' might provide a running commentary as each ballad unfolded. The 'pinner-up' festooned an expanse of wall or railings with ballads for public perusal."
The end of the last verse in the Bodleian and LOCSinging broadsides is about the singer's wife: "The old woman fell into the river, So politely I bid her good night."
There is different song (see broadside LOCSinging as102960) -- "Dick Heuston, the Cobbler" -- which begins pretty much the same way ("My name is Dick Heuston, the Cobbler, The people of London do tell -- They say I'm a very good workman, And that I do know very well") which does not mention the cobbler's family; as the song progresses he gets more and more drunk; the final verse repeats the first, but adds, "For I can (hic) work as well (hic) drunk as sober." I haven't found this song anyplace else yet. The closest to it is "Haben a Boo and a Banner," noted above. Also, see the note above about John Hewson.
Re earliest date: I don't find any song that mentions a cobbler in "The Jovial Crew" in what is supposedly a 1761 edition digitized by Google. In Air 30 in Act 2 (p. 31), Rachel sings, "My Daddy is gone to his Grave; My Mother lies under a Stone; And never a Penny I have, Alas! I am quite undone. My Lodging is in the cold Air, And Hunger is sharp and bites; A little Sir, good Sir, spare, To keep me warm o' Night." This seems a reach, but is the only song I found that mentions family.
Broadside LOCSinging sb10093b: H. De Marsan dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
Last updated in version 4.2
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.