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Origins: Pit Boots / Navvy Boots

DigiTrad:
NAVVY BOOTS
NAVVY BOOTS (2)


Related thread:
Lyr Req: With me Cattle Smock on / Kettle Smock (4)


13 Oct 97 - 06:19 PM
Bruce 13 Oct 97 - 07:29 PM
Bruce 13 Oct 97 - 09:30 PM
Bert 16 Oct 97 - 12:29 PM
Jim Dixon 01 Sep 17 - 02:09 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 02 Sep 17 - 02:32 PM
Joe Offer 02 Sep 17 - 03:44 PM
Joe Offer 02 Sep 17 - 09:28 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Sep 17 - 03:21 PM
Tattie Bogle 03 Sep 17 - 04:26 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: PIT BOOTS
From:
Date: 13 Oct 97 - 06:19 PM

Does anyone know the origin of this song and whether I have the words right?

PIT BOOTS

A diggin and a picking as I was one day
The thought of my true love had led me astray
The shift being done and night coming on
Away I ran with me pit boots on

I went to my love's window and said are you in bed
The minute that she heard me she lifted up her head
She lifted up her head crying "oh is that John"
Indeed its me with me pit boots on

She went to the door and invited me in
Go to the fireside and warm up your skin
The bedroom door was open and the blankets turned down
I rolled into bed with me pit boots on

We tossed and we tumbled until the break of day
Thinking of the hours we had passed away
My love she sat up crying "oh what have I done
A baby will come with his pit boots on"

I chastised my love for talking so wild
"You silly young girl you will never have a child
All that we done it was just a bit of fun"
And away I ran with me pit boots on


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Subject: RE: Req Info: Pit Boots
From: Bruce
Date: 13 Oct 97 - 07:29 PM

Your version differs little from a version recorded by the late A. L. Lloyd on Prestige/ International 13066. In verse 4, "Not thinking..."

Lloyd has a final verse:

Come all ye young gals wherever that you be.
Beware of them colliers who are single and free,
For their hearts do run light and their minds do run young,
So look out for the fellows with the pit boots on.

Lloyd's notes say the song is widespread, and his version came from Durham miners. I have half of a recollection of seeing a version with 'with his Navvy boots on', or 'with his apron on'.


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Subject: RE: Req Info: Pit Boots
From: Bruce
Date: 13 Oct 97 - 09:30 PM

Two versions with "Navvy Boots" are in DT.


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Subject: RE: Req Info: Pit Boots
From: Bert
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 12:29 PM

I have a old version where it was "Cattle Smock"


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Subject: Lyr Add: WITH MY PIT BOOTS ON
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 Sep 17 - 02:09 AM

WITH MY PIT BOOTS ON
As recorded by Louis Killen on "Classic Celtic Music from Smithsonian Folkways" (various artists, 2013)

A-diggin' and a-pickin' as I was one day,
When to thoughts of my true love my my mind did fondly stray.
The shift bein' over and the night comin' on,
Well, away I ran with me pit boots on.

And I ran to my love's window cryin': "Are you in bed?"
And as soon as she heard me she lifted up her head.
She lifted up her head, cryin': "Is that John?"
"Oh, indeed it's me with me pit boots on."

She opened the door and invited me in.
"Draw up to the fire, love, and dry your skin."
Well, the bedroom door bein' open and the blankets bein' turned down,
Well, I jumps into bed with me pit boots on.

We sported and we tumbled until the break of day,
When thinkin' of the hours that we had passed away,
My lover she sat up cryin': "What have I done?
The baby will be born with its pit boots on."

I chastised my love for talkin' so wild:
"You foolish young girl, you will never have a child,
For all that we done it were only done in fun,"
But away I ran with me pit boots on.

So come all of you young maidens; a warning take from me,
And never trust a collier so handsome and so free,
For their hands do run wild and their hearts do run young,
So keep clear of them fellows with the pit boots on.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pit Boots
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 02 Sep 17 - 02:32 PM

Louis certainly sang it- I well recall Bert Lloyd singing the 'Navvy boots' version


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pit Boots / Navvy Boots
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Sep 17 - 03:44 PM

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song, also known as "Courting Coat:

Courting Coat, The

DESCRIPTION: The singer takes his girl to bed while still in his (pit boots/navvy boots/courting coat). She fears pregnancy ("the baby will come with his pit boots on"); he laughs it off -- but runs away, still wearing the boots. Women are warned to beware
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1907 (Reeves-Sharp)
LONG DESCRIPTION: The singer (shaves and) dresses up, (by the light of the moon) arrives at his girl's window, and takes her to bed while still in his (pit boots/navvy boots/courting coat). She fears pregnancy ("the baby will come with his pit boots on"); he laughs it off -- but runs away, still wearing the boots. Women are warned to "beware of them colliers who are easy and free"
KEYWORDS: courting sex warning pregnancy mining worker clothes
FOUND IN: Britain(England(North,South),Scotland(Aber,Hebr,High)) Ireland
REFERENCES (5 citations):
GreigDuncan4 787, "The Courtin' Coat" (2 texts plus a single verse on p. 541)
MacSeegTrav 34, "The Courting Coat" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves-Sharp 53, "The Kettle Smock" (1 text)
Kennedy 171, "The Bold English Navvy" (1 text, 1 tune plus a fragment in the appendix)
DT, NAVVYBTS* NAVVYBOT*

Roud #516
RECORDINGS:
Liam Clancy, "Navvy Boots On" (on IRLClancy01)
Mary Delaney, "Navvy Shoes" (on IRTravellers01)
A. L. Lloyd, "With Me Pit Boots On" (on Lloyd1) (on IronMuse1)
Jimmy McBeath, "The Bold English Navvy" (on Voice10)
James McDermott, "With the Old Navvy Boots On" (on IRHardySons)
Lal Smith, "The Bold English Navvy" (on FSB2 [misprinted as "The Bold English Navy"], FSB2CD)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Rambleaway" (lyrics)
cf. "Oh, No, Not I" (lyrics)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Kettle Smock
The Moon Shining Brightly
Navvy Boots
NOTES: Between plot and lyrics (the girl's greeting and warning; also the way the young man dresses up), this makes me think it might be a sailor's/miner's adaption of "Rambleaway." - RBW
It may well be related, but inasmuch as there are few lyrics in common, and "Pit Boots" and its relatives are always sung from the man's point of view whereas "Rambleaway" is usually from the woman's, I think they qualify as separate songs.
I don't see any connection with "Rambleaway" other than the fellow's character. I don't see any words that "Rambleaway" has in common with any versions of "The Courting Coat" I've seen. - PJS
In McDermott's version on IRHardySons the singer is, at the end, brought to court and forced to pay five bob a week support. - BS
Last updated in version 2.6
File: RcWMPBO

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 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


The first version in the DT is from Sedley's Seeds of Love - any corrections?

NAVVY BOOTS

A digging and a-picking as I was one day
The thought of my true love it led me astray.
The day it was gone and the night coming on
And I hit for the road with my navvy boots on.

I knocked at my love's window, my knock she did know
And out of her slumber she wakened so slow.
I knocked there again, and she said " Is that John? "
" Yes indeed it's me with my navvy boots on. "

She opened the door and invited me in
" Draw up to the fire and warm your skin. "
The bedroom door was open and the blankets turned down
And I rolled into bed with my navvy boots on.

Then early the next morning at the dawn of the day,
Says I to my true love, " It's time to go away. "
" Sleep down, sleep down, you know you've done wrong
For to sleep here at night with your navvy boots on. "

O I bent down my head with a laugh and a smile
Saying "What could I do, love, in that length of time?
For all that I've done it was just a bit of fun
And I'll do it again with my navvy boots on."

The six months being over and seven after this
This pretty fair maid grew stout around the waist
Then eight months being over and nine comes along
And she handed me a son with his navvy boots on.

Come all you pretty fair maids take heed what I have said
Don't ever let a navvy come into your bed,
For their hearts do run light and their minds do run young
Sure they'll jump on your bones with their navvy boots on.

From The Seeds of Love, Sedley
@bawdy @love @seduction @bastard
filename[ NAVVYBTS
TUNE FILE: NAVVYBTS
CLICK TO PLAY
RG


The second DT version is from Peter Kennedy (corrections?):

NAVVY BOOTS (2)

I'm a bold English navvy that fought on the line
The first place I met was Newcastle-on-Tyne
I being tired, sick, and weary of working all day
To a cot down by the hillside I'm making my way

(A digging and a-picking as I was one day
The thought of my true love it led me astray.
The day it was gone and the night coming on
And I hit for the road with my navvy boots on.)

Oh I first had me supper and then had a shave
For courtin' this fair maid I highly prepared
Th'ould stars in the sky as the moon it shown down
And I hit for the road with my navvy boots on

I knocked at my love's window: my knock she did know
And out of her slumber she wakened so slow
I knocked there again and she said, "Is that John?"
And I quickly replied, "With me navvy boots on"

Oh she opened the window and then let me in
'Twas into her bedroom she planted me then
Th'ould night being cold and the blankets rolled on
So I slipped into bed with my navvy boots on

Oh then early next morning at the dawn of the day
Said I to my true love, "It's time to go away"
"Sleep down, sleep down, you know you've done wrong
Sure the child will be born with his navvy boots on"

Oh he bent down his head with a laugh and a smile
Saying, "What could I do love in that little while
And I know if I done it, I done it in fun
And I'll do it again with my navvy boots on"

Oh then six months being over and seven at the last
When this pretty fair maid grew stout round the waist
For eight months being over when nine comes along
And she handed him a young son with his navvy boots on

"Oh come all you pretty fair maids, take a warning," she said
"Don't ever leave a navvy get into your bed
For when he'll get warm and think upon you
Sure he'll jump on your bones with his navvy boots on."

Printed in Peter Kennedy Folksongs of Britain and Ireland
Recorded by the Irish Rovers
second verse from Sedgwick RG
@English @work @courtship @bastard
filename[ NAVVYBOT
TUNE FILE: NAVVYBOT
CLICK TO PLAY
SOF




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Subject: RE: Origins: Pit Boots / Navvy Boots
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Sep 17 - 09:28 PM

Here's a Lou Killen recording of "Pit Boots" (probably not playable in UK): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8g9T80Y6zI

And here the Dubliners sing "Navvy Boots": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T812Xlha3UU

The Spinners version of "Navvy Boots" with some extra verses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmnjIogZNQg

Here's "The Courting Coat" performed by Stuart Estell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZppwAy9_2k

I got married the first time at a young age in 1971 while I was in the U.S. Army. In an attempt to break the ice on the wedding night, I jumped into bed "with me combat boots on." Don't ask for details - my ex-wife might sue me. Come to think of it, my firstborn came with feet that were pointed inwards, so he had to wear casts that made them point the right way. The casts looked a lot like combat boots.

So, what are pit boots, navvy boots, a kettle smock, and a courting coat?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pit Boots / Navvy Boots
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Sep 17 - 03:21 PM

Hi Joe,
The earliest version I have is 'The Courting Coat' printed on the 1st December 1856 by Glasgow Poet's Box. Probably the direct source of the Grieg-Duncan versions. There is no stanza about the child being born with the ...... on.

Pit boots, worn by miners
Navvy boots, worn by navvies
Kettle Smock, as worn by farm hands in earlier centuries, a one-piece smock sometimes decorated to show ones trade, shepherd, ploughman etc.
Courting Coat just suggests a smart coat to attract the opposite sex.

Courting Coat

Toiling and shearing as I went on my way,
'Twas the thought of my darling led my mind astray,
The moon shone the light as I trudged along,
And I rode away with my courting coat on.

For courtship this night i was fully prepared,
I spat on my staff and I shaved my beard,
The moon shone more light as I trudged along,
And I rode away with my courting coat on.

I came to my love's window, crying ae you in bed?
As soon as she heard me she lifted her head;
She lifted her head, and she cries, is that John?
Oh, yes it is I, with my courting coat on.

She opened the door and guided me in,
I sat doon by the fire to warm my shoon (shins?)
The room door being open, the blankets fell down,
He jumped into bed with his courting coat on. (I/my)

She began to chastise me for being so bold,
I'm sure it's no harm to get you with child;
For all that I've done I count it but fun,
And I rode away with my courting coat on.

Come all ye fair maids, take a warning by me,
Beware of the laddie that's single and free,
For his heart it is light and his mind it is YON--
Beware of the lad with the courting coat on.

This version printed on Dec 30th, 1876.(repeated from 1856)

The kettle smock versions come from the southern counties c1900 and the Navvy versions somewhat later in the 30s. The pit boot versions may be a product of the revival, one of Bert's specials in all likelihood.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pit Boots / Navvy Boots
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Sep 17 - 04:26 PM

I remember Bob Davenport singing the Pit Boots version.(way back in the 1960s that would have been!)


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