DESCRIPTION: Singer prides himself on his plain tastes. In summer the girls like to romp and roll with rustic lads in the hay. His ladyfriend, Mary, a dairymaid, makes fine dumplings; he plans to "ask her if she won't supply/A rustic chap like I am."
EARLIEST DATE: 1872 (New Prize Medal Song Book, according to RoudBishop)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Singer prides himself on being rustic with plain tastes; the gentry laugh at him, but he laughs at them in turn. In summer the girls like to romp and roll with rustic lads in the hay. His young woman, Mary, a dairymaid, makes fine dumplings; he plans to "ask her if she won't supply/A rustic chap like I am." Cho: "Now I can guide a plow, milk a cow, and I can reap and sow/Fresh as the daisies in the fields/and they calls I Buttercup Joe"
KEYWORDS: courting love sex food
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 540, "Buttercup Joe" (1 text)
RoudBishop #93, "Buttercup Joe" (1 text, 1 tune)
Tony Wales, "Buttercup Joe" (on TWales1)
cf. "The Husbandman and the Servingman" (subject, a few phrases)
cf. "Harmless Young Jim" (innuendoes)
cf. "Blackberry Grove" (innuendoes)
NOTES: Wales's informant told him the words were being sung in Sussex in 1889, but offered no evidence, so I remain conservative in assigning an earliest date. I strongly suspect a music-hall origin. - PJS
Nonetheless, the song is fairly well established in English tradition, though it hasn't been printed much. I suspect there may have been one or two rewrites along the way; some of the versions vary a great deal.
I doubt it has any significance, because I doubt anyone other than me would bother checking on this, but I find it interesting that the lad's home town is more often listed as "Fareham" than anywhere else. Fareham is mentioned all the way back in the Domesday Book of 1086, as "Fernham" (Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, fourth edition, Oxford University Press, 1960, p. 174) -- that is, "Fern Ham/Hamm, which might be "passage-town" but is probably "fern-town," i.e. "a place with a lot of plants." So: an old town where the people have all the brains of a fern? - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
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.