Old Roger is Dead (Old Bumpy, Old Grimes, Pompey)

DESCRIPTION: (Old Bumpy) is dead and buried. An apple tree grows from his grave. An old woman comes to gather apples. Bumpy arises from his grave and kicks the woman for her temerity
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1876 (sheet music); some similar text from 1849 (Halliwell)
KEYWORDS: burial humorous supernatural playparty
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,Ro,SE,So) Britain(England(All),Scotland(Aber,Hebr,High)) Ireland
REFERENCES (27 citations):
GreigDuncan8 1596, "Poor Gracie is Dead" (1 text, 1 tune)
Broadwood/Maitland, pp. 94-95, "Oliver Cromwell" (1 text, 1 tune)
Belden, pp. 509-511, "Old Grumbler" (3 texts plus mention of 1 more, 1 tune)
Randolph 569, "Old Bumpy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 411-413, "Old Bumpy" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's #569)
High, p. 3, "Poor Pompy Is Dead & In His Grave" (1 text)
Hudson 138, pp. 284-285, "Old Grampus" (1 text plus mention of 4 more)
Moore-Southwest 124, "Cronie is Dead" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard, #199, "Old Pompey" (1 text plus an excerpt)
Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 136-137, "Old Ponto Is Dead" (1 text plus a fragment which might be part of this, 1 tune)
Eddy 65, "Old Granddaddy's Dead" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Peters, p. 292, "Old Willis is Dead" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Neely, pp. 195-197, "Poor Robin" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Flanders/Brown, pp. 182-183, "The Tommy Song or Apples are Ripe" (1 text)
Fuson, p. 186, "Old Grumbler" (1 text)
SharpAp 259, "Old Roger" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Morris, #224, "Old Grampus" (2 texts,1 tune)
Botkin-NEFolklr, p. 585, "Pompey" (1 text, 1 tune)
LPound-ABS, 114, pp. 232-233, "Poor Robin" (1 text)
Hammond-Belfast, p. 16, "Poor Toby is Dead" (1 text, 1 tune)
Opie-Game 57, "Old Roger" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Newell, #37, "Old Grimes" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Pamela McArthur Cole, "An Old Nursery Rhyme" in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. XIII, No. 50 (Jul 1900 (available online by JSTOR)), pp. 230-231 ("Little Johnny Wattles he went to Whitehall") (1 text)
E. J. Ladbury, "Scraps of English Folklore, VIII. Worcestershire" in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. XXXV, No. 3 (Sep 1924 (available online by JSTOR)), #16 pp. 268-269 "Cock Robin is Dead!" (1 text)
R.C. Maclagan, "Additions to _The Games of Argyleshire_" in Folk-Lore, (London, 1905 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. XVI, pp. 200-202 "The Lodger is Dead" (2 texts)
Tristram P. Coffin and Hennig Cohen, _Folklore in America: Tales, Songs, Superstitions, Proverbs, Riddles, Games, Folk Drama and Folk Festivals_, Doubleday, 1966, pp. 213-214, "Granddaddy Is Dead" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, p. 93, "Old Grimes" (1 text, tune referenced)

ST R569 (Full)
Roud #797
RECORDINGS:
Dora Richards, "Pompey is Dead" (AFS, 1940; on LC55)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Old Limpy
Old Grimes
Old Johnny
NOTES: Eddy quotes John Powell as writing, "This is not a song but a singing game, 'Old Roger is Dead.' It is a relic of an ancient pagan ritual...." Randolph gives details on how the game is played.
Botkin believes this originated with "Pompey! A Famous End Song," with words credited to "Mrs. K. B." and music by W. R. Dehnoff. This is possible, as I know of no collections prior to the 1876 publication of that song. But the degree of variation makes me suspect it is older. The version in Henry Randall Waite, Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, is credited to "A. G. Green, [Brown class of 18]20." However, this appears to be a reference to "Bohunkus," even though that's is a different song (and Waite has it on the next page!).
The use of the name "Old Roger" in some versions is interesting. According to Carol Rose, Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia (originally published as Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes and Goblins: An Encyclopedia of Little People, 1996); I use the 1998 W. W. Norton paperback edition), p. 246, Old Roger "is the red-faced spirit of apples and the guardian of apple trees in some areas of England." Thus Old Roger might well be expected to guard apples.
This should not be confused with "Bohunkus (Old Father Grimes, Old Grimes Is Dead)," which also goes by the title "Old Grimes"; the forms are different, and "Bohunkus" has a plot about two competing brothers. - RBW
Cole, from Massachusetts, accompanies her version with the note that "I have heard my mother repeat the following rhyme as familiar from her childhood (she was born in 1797)." It inserts the following, after Johnny is laid in his grave -- "The Devil came after him, but could n't have him" -- into the usual course of events. - BS
Last updated in version 3.8
File: R569

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 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.