The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #1682   Message #6011
Posted By: rich r
31-May-97 - 11:08 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Auctioning Off Wives
Subject: ADD: John Hobbs
Peter, your wishes come true. I found this little nugget.


A jolly shoemaker John Hobbs, John Hobbs,
A jolly shoemaker was he.
He married Jane Carter,
No damsel looked smarter,
But He's caught a tartar,
Yes, he's caught a tarter, John Hobbs, did he.

He tied a rope to her, John Hobbs, John Hobbs
He tied a rope to her did he,
To scape from hot water
To Smithfield he brought her,
But nobody bought her
They all were afraid of Jane Hobbs, were they

"Oh who'll buy a wife?" says Hobbs, John Hobbs
"A sweet pretty wife," says he.
But somehow they tell us,
The wife dealing fellows
Were all of them sellers
And none of them wanted Jane, did they

"Oh where is the rope?" says Hobbs, John Hobbs
"Come give me the rope" says he;
"I won't stand to wrangel,
Myself I will strangle,
And hang dingle dangle;"
He died in a tangle, John Hobbs did he.

Below is the extra verse and alternate end to 4th verse in happy ending version.

.... And hang dingle dangle"
He hung dingle dangle, John Hobbs did he.

But down his wife cut him, John Hobbs, John Hobbs,
But down his wife cut him, John Hobbs;
With a few hubble bubbles
They settled their troubles,
Like most married couples,
Oh happy shoemaker, John Hobbs, is he.

By the way, auctioning wives was not uncommon as recently as the 19th century. Divorce was only available by and Act of Parliament prior to 1857. And even after that was very expensive, so available only to the monied and connected. Thus wife auctioning became the poor man's (and woman's) release. They were usually prearranged by mutual consent and the ordinary people considered them legal, even though they were not.

rich r