Billy Grimes the Rover
DESCRIPTION: The girl comes to her mother and asks if she can marry Billy Grimes. Mother refuses her blessing; Billy is poor and dirty. The girl points out that Billy has just come into a large inheritance; the mother suddenly praises Billy and gives her blessing
EARLIEST DATE: c. 1852 (published by an N.C. Morse, who claimed authorship)
KEYWORDS: courting marriage mother poverty
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (20 citations):
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 251-252, "Billy Grimes" (1 text)
McNeil-SouthernFolkBalladsVol2, pp. 33-34, "Billy Grimes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 193, "Billy Grimes the Drover" (1 composite text derived from 8 unprinted versions)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore4 193, "Billy Grimes the Drover" (3 excerpts, 3 tunes)
Chappell-FolkSongsOfRoanokeAndTheAlbermarle 76, "Billy Grimes" (1 text)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #73, "Billy Grimes" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Wolfe/Boswell-FolkSongsOfMiddleTennessee 26, pp. 47-48, "Billy Grimes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Huntington-TheGam-MoreSongsWhalemenSang, pp. 228-229, "Across the Fields of Barley/Billy Grimes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood-NewLostCityRamblersSongbook, p. 58, "Billy Grimes, the Rover" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thompson-BodyBootsAndBritches-NewYorkStateFolktales, pp. 406-407, "The Courtship of Billy Grimes" (1 text)
Pound-AmericanBalladsAndSongs, 96, pp. 205-206, "The Courtship of Billy Grimes" (1 text)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #48, "Billy Grimes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manny/Wilson-SongsOfMiramichi 59, "Billy Grimes the Drover" (1 text plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 176, "Billy Grimes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Boette-SingaHipsyDoodle, p. 24, "Bily Grimes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Dime-Song-Book-2, p. 46, "Billy Grimes the Rover" (1 text)
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #143, p. 11, "Billy Grimes the Rover" (1 reference)
cf. Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan, p. 477, "Billy Grimes" (source notes only)
ADDITIONAL: James P. Leary, Compiler and Annotator, _Wisconsin Folklore_ University of Wisconsin Press, 2009, article "Kentucky Folksong in Northern Wisconsin" by Asher E. Treat, pp. 241-242, "Tomorrow Morn I'm Sweet Sixteen" (1 text, 1 tune, sung by Pearl Jacobs Borusky)
ST MN2033 (Full)
I. G. Greer, "Billy Grimes" (AFS; on LC14, TimesAint02)
Marie Hare, "Billy Grimes the Drover" (on MRMHare01)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Billy Grimes the Rover" (on NLCR04, NLCR11)
Shelor Family, "Billy Grimes the Rover" (Victor 20865, 1927; on GoingDown)
LOCSheet, sm1852 510300, "Billy Grimes" or "The Country Lassie and her Mother," Firth, Pond and Co. (New York), 1852; same broadside as sm1852 691750; sm1852 520830, "Billy Grimes the Drover"; sm1853 540400, "Billy Grimes" same broadside as sm1853 700610 (tune)
LOCSinging, as101050, "Billy Grimes the Rover," J. Andrews (New York), 1853-1859; also as101060, sb10018b, "Billy Grimes the Rover"
cf. "Will Ray" (plot)
cf. "Peggy in the Morning" (plot)
NOTES [310 words]: Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety asserts that Billy Grimes was properly a "drover," not a "rover" (even though his informant used the word "rover"), and it's possible that this was original -- but, as the list of titles shows -- Billy quickly became transformed.
The composite text in Brown ends with the drover rejecting the girl because she wants his money. Chappell also has this ending This is, however, the "minority version" even in Brown, and seems rare elsewhere; if it is original, it had generally been dropped. More likely it's a North Carolina variant.
Although clearly an American song, it seems to have been associated with the Irish, at least in New York City. Edward Harrigan's noval The Mulligans, G. W. Dillingham, 1901, p. 79, has Dan Mulligan quoting this when a Black woman mentions turning sixteen. For Harrigan, and his use of Irish material, see the notes to "Babies On Our Block." - RBW
The following broadsides are duplicates, or so close to being duplicates that I don't find a difference:
LOCSheet sm1852 510300 and sm1852 691750: these claim "words by Richard Coe, Esq Music by W.H. Oakley"
LOCSheet sm1853 540400 and sm1853 700610: these claim the song was "composed by [usually meaning "music by" ] Wm H Oakes"; the story ends with the mother explaining that she is in favor of Billy.
LOCSinging as101050, as101060 and sb10018b[same text, different printer]: no attribution; the story has Billy reject her at the end.
The remaining American Memory broadside, LOCSheet sm1852 520830 is "by N C Morse"; it ends when the daughter announces Billy's ten thousand pound capitalization and 600 pound annual income."
Broadside LOCSinging as101050: J. Andrews dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
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