In Good Old Colony Times

DESCRIPTION: Three rogues (king's sons? miller, weaver, and tailor?) "fell into mishaps / because they could not sing." Eventually they turn to robbery. "The miller drowned in his dam / the weaver was hung in his yarn, and the devil clapped his claws on the tailor..."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1804 (broadside, Bodleian Johnson Ballads fol. 84)
KEYWORDS: robbery punishment death
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond,North,South),Scotland(Aber)) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So)
REFERENCES (22 citations):
Belden, pp. 268-269, "The Three Rogues" (3 texts)
Randolph 112, "In the Good Old Colony Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Eddy 80, "The Three Rogues" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Neely, pp. 189-190, "In the Good Old Colony Days" (1 text)
FSCatskills 116, "The Three Rogues" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sharp-100E 80, "The Three Sons" (1 text, 1 tune)
Kennedy 307, "Three Scamping Rogues" (1 text, 1 tune)
Broadwood/Maitland, pp. 20-21, "King Arthur" (1 text, 1 tune)
Williams-Thames, p. 194, "When Arthur Ruled This Land" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 384)
GreigDuncan3 704, "Oh the Miller He Stole Corn" (5 texts, 4 tunes)
BrownII 188, "The Three Rogues" (1 text plus 2 excerpts and mention of 1 more)
BrownSchinhanIV 188, "The Three Rogues" (2 excerpts, 2 tunes)
Chappell-FSRA 108, "The Old King and His Three Sons" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 1, "In Good Old Colony Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
LPound-ABS, 116, pp. 234-235, "In Good Old Colony Times" (1 text)
JHCox 166, "The Three Rogues" (1 text plus mention of 1 more)
Flanders/Brown, p. 103, "The Farmer's Three Sons" (2 fragments)
Linscott, pp. 213-214, "In Good Old Colony Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett, p. 7, "Old Colony Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-NEFolklr, p. 531, "Old Colony Times" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, ROGUES3* ROGUES2* (ROGUES32)
ADDITIONAL: The Quaver; or Songster's Pocket Companion (London, 1844 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 287, "King Arthur Had Three Sons" (1 text)

Roud #130
RECORDINGS:
George Maynard, "Three Sons of Rogues" (on Maynard1, Voice07)
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Johnson Ballads fol. 84, "The Miller, Weaver, and Little Tailor ("In good king Arthur's days")," Laurie and Whittle (London), 1804
LOCSheet, sm1878 07980, "Old Colony Times," John Church & Co. (Cincinnati), 1878 (tune)
LOCSinging, as104730, "Good Old Colony Times," L. Deming (Boston), n.d.

ALTERNATE TITLES:
King Arthur
Three Jolly Rogues
Three Jolly Rogues of Lynn
When Bold King Edward
King Arthur's Servants
In Good King Arthur's Days
When Arthur Ruled this Land
The Little Tailor Dick
The Miller's Sons
NOTES: Botkin has a report that this was quoted by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to the Reichstag in 1888. Allegedly Bismarck learned it from a friend in 1832. I do not know how the latter could be verified, but it is certain that Bismarck knew the song. Lyle Lofgren forwarded to me a note from Eamonn Noonan, mentioning that Bismarck's recitation (which he dates to 1889) was recorded and has now been publicly released; there was actually a story about it in the New York Times.
One has to suspect that this has had a complex history of moving between the broadside press and the folk; how else can one explain its tendency to take on new settings, from King Arthur's court (very common in British settings) to the American colonies to "Lynne" (King's Lynn?).
The song is quoted by Thomas Hardy in Under the Greenwood Tree (a single "King Arthur" stanza in chapter 2, "Honey-taking, and Afterwards," of Part IV, "Autumn"). - RBW
Broadside Bodleian Johnson Ballads fol. 84: "A much admired song sung by Mr Chas Johnston, & proper to be sung at all Musical Clubs." In this version "Three Sons of Whores were turn'd out of doors ...." - BS
Last updated in version 3.2
File: R112

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