Crafty Farmer, The [Child 283; Laws L1]

DESCRIPTION: A farmer carrying money from/for a transaction is met by a robber. The robber demands his money; the farmer throws it on the grass. While the robber gathers it, the farmer makes off with the robber's horse and all the wealth in his saddlebags
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: robbery trick money outlaw escape
FOUND IN: Britain(England(All),Scotland(Aber,Hebr)) Ireland Canada(Mar,Newf) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,NW,Ro,SE,So)
REFERENCES (41 citations):
Child 283, "The Crafty Farmer" (1 text)
Bronson 283, The Crafty Farmer" (43 versions)
Bronson-SingingTraditionOfChildsPopularBallads 283, "The Crafty Farmer" ( 5versions: #1, #12, #18, #25, #38)
Laws L1, "The Yorkshire Bite" (Laws gives three broadside texts on pp. 73-77 of ABFBB)
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames, pp. 253-254, "The Yorkshire Bite" (1 text) (also Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Bk 11)
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #137, "Highwayman Outwitted" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #35, pp. 1-2, "The Yorkshire Farmer" (1 text)
Greig/Duncan2 266, "The Yorkshire Farmer" (9 texts, 7 tunes) {A=Bronson's #25, C=#28 [misattributed in Bronson], D=#27, E=#34, F=#23}
Greig/Duncan2 267, "The Farmer and the Robber" (2 texts, 2 tunes) {A=Bronson's #1, B=#3}
Dixon-AncientPoemsBalladsSongsOfThePeasantryOfEngland, Ballad #17, pp. 126-130,243-245, "Saddle to Rags" (1 text)
Bell-Combined-EarlyBallads-CustomsBalladsSongsPeasantryEngland, pp. 177-180, "Saddle to Rags" (1 text)
Kidson-TraditionalTunes, pp. 140-142, "Saddle to Rags" (1 text, 1 tune)
Barry/Eckstorm/Smyth-BritishBalladsFromMaine pp. 406-413, "The Yorkshire Bite" (3 texts, 1 tune); also pp. 477-478, "The Crafty Farmer" (notes plus many stanzas from Child) {Bronson's #31}
Flanders/Brown-VermontFolkSongsAndBallads, pp. 234-235, "The Yorkshire Bite" (1 fragment, 1 tune) {Bronson's #20}
Flanders/Olney-BalladsMigrantInNewEngland, pp. 51-53, "The Yorkshire Boy" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #32}
Flanders/Ballard/Brown/Barry-NewGreenMountainSongster, pp. 97-102, "The Yorkshire Bite" (1 text, 1 tune, plus extended analysis including several excerpts) {Bronson's #29}
Flanders-AncientBalladsTraditionallySungInNewEngland4, pp. 139-175, "The Yorshire Bite" (9 texts plus 6 fragments, 9 tunes) {B=Bronson's #32, D=#29, K=#20}
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 46, "The Crafty Farmer" [incorrectly listed as Child #278] (1 text plus an excerpt)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore4 46, "The Crafty Farmer" (1 excerpt, 1 tune)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 55, "Johnny and the Highwayman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #141, "The Yorkshire Bite" (1 text); #142, "The Damsel from Cheshire" (1 text, with this plot but with the interesting twist that the person robbed is female)
Creighton/Senior-TraditionalSongsOfNovaScotia, pp. 237-239, "Well Sold the Cow" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #26}
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia 14, "Well Sold the Cow" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #19}
Pottie/Ellis-FolksongsOfTheMaritimes, pp. 171-173, "Well Sold the Cow" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #26}
Greenleaf/Mansfield-BalladsAndSeaSongsOfNewfoundland 20, "The Little Yorkshire Boy" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #21}
Leach-FolkBalladsSongsOfLowerLabradorCoast 60, "The Yorkshire Bite" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Peacock, pp. 33-38, "The Yorkshire Boy" (2 texts, 3 tunes)
Logan-APedlarsPack, pp. 127-133, "The Crafty Farmer" and "The Yorkshire Bite" (2 texts)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 662-665, "The Crafty Farmer" (2 texts)
Cazden/Haufrecht/Studer-FolkSongsOfTheCatskills 117, "The Old Spotted Cow" (2 texts, 3 tunes) {Tune "B" is Bronson's #29}
Thompson-BodyBootsAndBritches-NewYorkStateFolktales, pp. 163-164, "The Kennebec Bite" (1 text)
Thompson-APioneerSongster 6, "The Kennebec Bite" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan 157, "John Sold the Cow Well" (1 text plus mention of 2 more)
Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag, pp. 118-119, "Down, Down Derry Down" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #37}
Combs/Wilgus-FolkSongsOfTheSouthernUnitedStates 89, pp. 130-132, "The Crafty Farmer" (1 text)
Henry/Huntingdon/Herrmann-SamHenrysSongsOfThePeople H51, pp. 129-130, "The Crafty Ploughboy" (1 text, 1 tune)
OCroinin/Cronin-TheSongsOfElizabethCronin 180, "The Yorkshire Farmer" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 31, "The Crafty Farmer" (1 text)
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, pp. 94-95, "The Wise Farmer" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Katherine Briggs, _A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language_, Part A: Folk Narratives, 1970 (I use the 1971 Routledge paperback that combines volumes A.1 and A.2), volume A.2, pp. 377-380, "The Boy Who Outwitted the Robber" (a prose version of the tale from Scotland)

Roud #2640 and 2637
Elizabeth Cronin, "The Yorkshire Farmer" (on IRECronin01)
Nick Davis, "The Yorkshire Boy" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Warde Ford, "The Oxford Merchant (Hampshire Bite)" (AFS 4197 A, 1938; on LC58, in AMMEM/Cowell) {Bronson's #18}
Leonard Hulan, "The Yorkshire Boy" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]

Bodleian, Harding B 19(79), "The Robber Outdone" ("Come listen a while and a story I will tell"), W. Birmingham (Dublin), c.1867; also Firth c.17(20), "The Robber Outdone"
cf. "The Highwayman Outwitted" [Laws L2]
Jack the Plowboy
Jack the Cow Boy
Well Sold the Cow
Selling the Cow
The Boy and the Cow
The Highway Robber
The Scotch Herdie
NOTES [389 words]: Roud has #2637 for Laws L1 Bite, #2640 for Child 283 - BS
Laws, obviously, considers "The Yorkshire Bite" to be distinct from "The Crafty Farmer." He may be right, but Coffin does not find any essential differences, and Bronson seems to regard them as subgroups. Even the three texts Laws gives for comparison have strong similarities in detail; it looks to me as if they are simply (bad) rewrites of the same original.
Given the degree of variation in the particular verses, it is hard to tell which texts go with which song. Since the versions are so close; I decided not to distinguish them. (One of the few instances where I lumped rather than split, but splitting requires a distinguishing characteristic!)
It's just possible that this has a real-life origin, though I doubt it: Brandon, pp. 29-31, reports that one Isaac Atkinson held up a young woman, who -- apparently thinking he wanted something harder to recover than her money -- threw a bag of coins in the ditch. Atkinson, instead of either pursuing his seduction or doing anything to control the girl, simply jumped off his horse to pick up the coins.
The girl then flew away on her horse, and by chance his horse followed. She was able to report where she had left him, and he was taken and hanged.
Brandon, however, cites no sources; I almost wonder if his tale doesn't combine this one with something like "Lovely Joan." Or, even more likely, with "The Highwayman Outwitted."
McDonald, pp. 58-60, has a bit more on Atkinson, who supposedly was born c. 1614 and died in 1640; he was born in Berkshire to a good family and went to Oxford. But he did not finish; he quarreled with his father and went out to make his own way in the world. He supposedly robbed his own family very early in his career. He supposedly developed a taste for robbing lawyers, including most notably Charles I's attorney general William Noy.
McDonald reports that, when the crowd came to arrest him, he killed four before being taken.
The tale of a robber tricking a man off his horse and stealing it has many more analogies, such as the folk tale of "Jack Hannaford," found in Henderson's Folk-Lore of Northern Counties and accessible on pp. 40-43 of Jacobs.
Kellett, p. 208, tells that "Yorkshire bite [is an] old term applied to Yorkshire dealers, reputed to be sharp and cunning." - RBW
Bibliography Last updated in version 6.4
File: C283

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