A-Begging I Will Go

DESCRIPTION: "Of all the trades in England, The begging is the best, For when the beggar's tired, he can lay him down and rest...." The beggar describes the various pleasures of his profession, and declares that he will continue begging
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1684 (Playford's Choyce Ayres and Loyal Songs)
KEYWORDS: begging nonballad
FOUND IN: Britain(England(North,Lond,south),Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (13 citations):
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast "Folk-Song in Buchan," pp. 31-32, "The Begging Trade"; #30, p. 1, "The Beggin'" (2 texts)
Greig/Duncan3 488, "The Begging" (14 texts, 11 tunes)
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames, p. 305, "Of All the Trades in London" (1 fragment) (also Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 653)
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 217, "A-Begging I Will Go" (1 text, 1 tune)
Logan-APedlarsPack, pp. 164-166, "The Jovial Beggar, a-begging we will go" (1 text)
Chappell-PopularMusicOfTheOldenTime, pp. 346-347, "A Begging We Will Go" (2 texts, 1 tune; the first text is "A-Begging I Will Go," but the second text and the tune are "I Am a Jolly Huntsman")
Chappell/Wooldridge-OldEnglishPopularMusic II, pp. 42-43, "A Begging We Will Go" (1 text, 1 tune)
Bell-Combined-EarlyBallads-CustomsBalladsSongsPeasantryEngland, "A Begging We Will Go" (1 text)
Ford-VagabondSongsAndBalladsOfScotland, pp. 267-270, "A-Begging We Will Go" (1 text, 1 tune, very long and conflate)
Ord-BothySongsAndBallads, pp. 381-382, "To the Beggin' I Will Go" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), p. 265, "The Happy Beggarman"
Tim Coughlan, Now Shoon the Romano Gillie, (Cardiff,2001), pp. 287-289, "A Begging I Will Go" as one of the sources of Coughlan 94, "O, a-beggin' I will go, my love."

Roud #286
Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, "To the Begging I Will Go" (on ENMacCollSeeger02)
Bodleian, Harding B 28(287), "The Beggar," C. Croshaw (York), c.1817
cf. "Let the Back and Sides Go Bare" (theme)
cf. "The Old Settoo" (theme and some lines)
cf. "Beggars and Ballad Singers" (theme : "who would be a king, When beggars live so well?")
Age Renewed by Wedlock/Come All Ye Ancient Women (Olson-BroadsideBalladIndex ZN511)
The Merry Beggars of Lincolns-Inn-Fields/Three beggars met together (Olson-BroadsideBalladIndex ZN2603)
The Papist Prayers/There Is a Holy Father (Olson-BroadsideBalladIndex ZN2427)
The Rambling Roman Catholick/I am a Roman Catholick (Olson-BroadsideBalladIndex ZN1225)
Tradesman's Complaint, "Come hither, brother tradesmen, And hear the news I bring, 'Tis of a Tory minister" (song against the British policies leading to the American Revolution; see Stanley Weintraub, _Iron Tears: America's Battle for Freedom, Britain's Quagmire 1775-1783_, pp. 20-21)
A Junto Song ("'Tis money makes the member vote... A-taxing we will go") (Rabson-SongbookOfTheAmericanRevolution, p. 29)
To the Begging I Will Go
NOTES [277 words]: Coughlan, Now Shoon the Romano Gillie, pp. 288-289, notes the following verse from Playford's Choyce Ayres and Loyal Songs (1684): "I fear no plots against me, I live in open cell, Then who would be a king, When beggars live so well?" Coughlan continues, "It has been suggested that this verse contains a veiled reference to the tradition that King James V of Scotland (1513-42) was in the habit of consorting with Travellers.... {A} similar story is told of the English King John (1199-1216)...." This may be confused with the report in Child's preface to 279, "The Jolly Beggar": "We are regularly informed by editors that tradition imputes the authorship of both 'The Jolly Beggar' and 'The Gaberlunyie-Man' to James Fifth of Scotland.... The tradition as to James Fifth is, perhaps, not much older than the publication in either case [1724], and has no more plausibility than it has authority." - BS
The basis for the legend may be the fact that he was a fairly lusty liege; according to Stanley B. R. Poole, Royal Mysteries and Pretenders, Barnes & Noble, 1993, p. 36, he was thought to have had as many as nine illegitimate children. But I agree that there is no reason to link the songs to him.
Logan-APedlarsPack has this from a broadside "Be Valiant Still," with the tune listed as "The old carle to daunton me." Whatever that is; a tune "To Daunton Me" is #182 in the Scots Musical Museum.
The notion of begging songs predates even this quite ancient piece; in A Poetical Rhapsody, published 1602, we find "In Praise of a Beggar's Life" ("Bright shines the sun; play, beggars, play! Here's scraps enough to serve to-day"), credited to "A.W." - RBW
Last updated in version 6.2
File: K217

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