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Origins/Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted


Related thread:
Lyr Req: Maid of Reigate / Maid of Rygate (10)

GUEST, 13 Aug 02 - 11:37 AM
DMcG 13 Aug 02 - 11:45 AM
MMario 13 Aug 02 - 11:48 AM
Malcolm Douglas 13 Aug 02 - 11:50 AM
MMario 13 Aug 02 - 11:57 AM
Malcolm Douglas 13 Aug 02 - 11:58 AM
Kate 13 Aug 02 - 12:06 PM
Malcolm Douglas 13 Aug 02 - 02:51 PM
GUEST,G.Jarrold 10 Feb 05 - 03:22 PM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Feb 05 - 04:37 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Feb 05 - 09:33 PM
Tradsinger 11 Feb 05 - 01:27 PM
Snuffy 12 Feb 05 - 08:21 AM
Uncle_DaveO 12 Feb 05 - 04:25 PM
Joe Offer 16 Aug 13 - 04:45 PM
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Subject: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: GUEST,
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 11:37 AM

Does anyone have the tune for The Highwayman Outwitted? I'm also interested in any good Lincolnshire songs. Thanks.

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: DMcG
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 11:45 AM

I think I've heard this to "The Crafty Maid's Policy" (in DT)

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: MMario
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 11:48 AM

if anyone *does* have the tune to Highwayman outwitted and could post it - that would be graciously gratifying! it is one of the DT's "missing tunes"

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 11:50 AM

Lots of traditional versions under various titles, lots of different tunes. Did you have any particular one in mind?

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: MMario
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 11:57 AM

Did Laws give a tune direction in 'american balladry'?

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 11:58 AM

The DT set is from a broadside with no tune indication. As I said, there are a lot of different possible tunes for it; we may never find a probable, but I'm holding out for that for now rather than make do with a third-best not unlikely.

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: Kate
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 12:06 PM

I'm interested in any tunes that are available. I realise that this is pretty open ended but I have never heard this song only read it when trying to find songs from my home county. I'll have a listen to "The Crafty Maid's Policy" tune though. Thanks.

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Subject: ADD: The Highwayman Outwitted (Yorks)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 02:51 PM

There are a couple of versions in this previous discussion: THE DEVONSHIRE FARMER'S DAUGHTER/ THE FARMER FROM CHESHIRE

Snuffy seems never to have got round to posting the tune(s), though. The song turns up in all sorts of forms and localised to all sorts of places. The Roud Folk Song Index actually gives it two consecutive numbers; 2637 and 2638; the majority of the "farmer's daughter" variants are in the latter group.

Traditional versions have been found all over the English-speaking world (including Tristan da Cunha!), but I haven't found any tunes noted in Lincolnshire. The nearest, geographically speaking, would probably be the following, which Frank Kidson got from Mrs. Kate Thompson of Knaresborough; date unspecified but likely during the 1880s or 1890s.


(Noted by Frank Kidson from Mrs. Kate Thompson of Knaresborough.)

It's of a rich farmer in Cheshire,
To the market his daughter would go,
Not thinking that any would harm her,
She'd often been that way before.

She was met by a rusty highwayman,
Who caused the young damsel to stand.
"Your money and clothes now deliver
Or else your sweet life is at hand."

He stripped this fair damsel stark naked,
And gave her his bridle to hold,
And there she stood shivering and shaking,
Near starved unto death with the cold.

She put her left foot in the stirrup,
And mounted her horse like a man;
Over hedges and ditches she galloped,
Crying, "Catch me, bold rogue, if you can."

The bold rogue he soon followed after,
Which caused him to puff and to blow.
Thank God that he never did catch her,
Till she came to her own father's door.

"Oh daughter! dear daughter! what's happened?"
"Oh father! to you I will tell;
I was met by a rusty highwayman,
Thank God! he has done me no harm."

"Put the grey mare in the stable,
And spread the white sheet on the floor."
She stood there and counted the money,
She counted five thousand and more.

From The Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol.I, issue 5, 1904. A midi of the tune will doubtless appear in time at the Mudcat Midi Pages; meanwhile, it can be heard via the South Riding Folk Network site:

The Highwayman Outwitted (midi)

As for folk songs collected in Lincolnshire, try to get hold of Patrick O'Shaughnessy's books; you can still get More Folk Songs from Lincolnshire and Yellowbelly Ballads Part Two through the English Folk Dance and Song Society, for example.

Thread #29700   Message #382520
Posted By: Snuffy
25-Jan-01 - 05:18 PM
Thread Name: Help: Unusual Devon songs


Here's The Devonshire Farmer's Daughter, and The Farmer from Cheshire (recorded in Suffolk). See also The Highwayman Outwitted which the Digital Tradition database has assigned the number DT #682. Here the farmer is from Lincolnshire. This thread gives a Scottish version where it's the farmer who outwits the highwayman.This tale seems to be pretty widespread, so I don't know if you'd count it as a Devon song. See also The Crafty Farmer and the Crafty Boy in the DT for similar table turning exploits (Child #283).

The Cheshire version is notable not only for its economic telling of the tale, but also for the fact that it doesn't rhyme until verse 5!


In Devonshire lived a rich farmer,
His daughter to market did go.
Believing that no-one could harm her,
Oft-times she did ride to and fro.

It happened to be on a Wednesday,
A great deal of corn she had sold.
She's gone to receive every penny.
They paid her in silver and gold.

In a portmantle she put it,
In this portmantle put she.
For fear of some beggars or troopers
A robbing all on the highway.

One gay, gallant trooper she's met with
He bade this poor damsel to stay.
But she would not have stayed for the heavens,
But galloped along the highway

He pulled this young girl from her saddle
He gave her his bridle to hold.
While she's in the shaking and [babering?]
O almost a-froze with the cold.

She off with her foot in his stirrup
And away she did ride like a man.
"Come follow me, follow me, trooper.
Come follow me home if you can."

He run, but he could not get after:
His boots they were baffled in snow.
"Come, rein up, my pretty young damsel.
I'll give you back your money and gold."

"No matter, no matter," she shouted,
"You can keep it all now, if you will.
For I've leaved you a bag full of farthings,
A sum of five shilling to tell."

She rode over hills, over mountains,
Till she came to her father's own gate.
Her father was sorely affrighted.
To see her come home in her whites.

"And where have you been to my daughter?
O where have you tarried so long?"
"Some very rough wooers I have met with,
But still I have suffered no wrong.

He looked in the trooper's portmantle,
And in the portmantle he found
Large pieces of gold and of silver
Which mounted to six hundred pounds.

"Here's six hundred pounds here, my daughter.
And I will add six hundred more.
And you now have a plentiful fortune
To keep the cold wind from the door."

Laws L2
Recorded by George Deacon (vocal) & Marion Ross (harmonium) originally on Transatlantic. Reissued on compilation double-CD The best of English Folk, 1999. Essential ESCD770.


There was a rich farmer in Cheshire,
And his daughter to market would go.
Thinking of no harm or danger,
For she'd been on that highway before.

She met with an uncivil roadster,
Two pistols he drew from his side.
Saying "Deliver up your money and clothing
Or you will die in distress."

He stripped that poor lady star-naked,
But she mounted that mare like a man.
She galloped over hedgerow and ditches
Till she came to her dear father's door.

"O daughter, o daughter, what's happened?
Why stayest you late from the fair?"
O father, I've been in geat danger,
But the villain has done me no harm."

She put the grey mare in the stable,
And spread a white cloth on the floor.
She counted her money twice over,
And she counted a thousand and more.

But now she's a carriage to ride in,
And a coachman to ride by her side,
Servants to wait at the table,
And plenty of money besides.

Laws L2
Collected 1985-87 by John Howson at Wickham Skeith, Suffolk from the singing of Charlie Stringer. Songs Sung in Suffolk Vol 3, (1988), Veteran Tapes VT103

Wassail! V

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: GUEST,G.Jarrold
Date: 10 Feb 05 - 03:22 PM

the tune for this can be heard on "English Songs And Dances" by "Magpie Lane"on"Beautiful Jo"c.d bejocd-6

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Feb 05 - 04:37 PM

For comparison's sake, I refer you to The Crafty Farmer

The old farmer is riding to his landlord's house to pay his whole year's rent. A highwayman confronts him, and the farmer foolishly(?) confides what his errand is, and that there's forty pounds in his bags, under his saddle rig.

The highwayman shows weapons and makes him dismount. "Give me the bags with the money", in effect. The old man throws the bags over the hedge, "Take it, if ye'll have any", and when the highwayman chases after it the farmer steals the highwayman's horse, with saddle, weapons, and loot, and goes home.

Essentially the same plot as The Highwayman Outwitted. My personal druthers, I like this one the better of the two.

I know the tune to this one, and sing it occasionally. If anyone needs this tune, I can email an MP3 of it.
Dave Oesterreich

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Feb 05 - 09:33 PM

The point I was trying to make (nearly 3 years ago, now) was that there are a lot of overlapping songs that tell essentially the same story. They are carried by a good few different tunes, so "Jarrold"s confident assertion that "the tune" for "this song" (which version of it? There are a great many) can be found on one particular record doesn't tell us anything very helpful without specific details.

The Crafty Farmer strand belongs to Roud 2637. It's usually called The Yorkshire Bite, but was very popular in Britain, America and Canada; so there are lots of versions (with various titles) and lots of tunes. Which one did you mean, Dave?

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: Tradsinger
Date: 11 Feb 05 - 01:27 PM

Our Band Puzzlejug has recorded a local (Gloucestershire) traveller version of the Yorkshire Bite, entitled Jack and the Robber. I also learnt an Appalachian version of the same ballad to a nice modal tune some years ago (from an American visiting England). I like to think that it is in the same tradition as Jack and the Beanstalk and the Appalachian Jack Tales. Would anyone like to comment on that?

The [Rich] Farmer of Leicester/Cheshire/Sheffield has been collected from lots of English traditional singers - Wiggie Smith, the Copper Family, Mary Ann Haynes and so on. It's particularly popular with gypsy singers and most gypsies who have more than about 10 songs in their reportoire know it. It's not heard much in folk clubs, though. The tune varies but versions are usually similar.

Hell, I have even recorded a version of it myself.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: Snuffy
Date: 12 Feb 05 - 08:21 AM

Only four years since I posted the words and two-and a half since Malcolm pointed out I hadn't posted the tunes. Must have slipped below the radar. Anyway, better late than never.

X: 271
T:Devonshire Farmer's Daughter
D:George Deacon/Marion Ross 1973
w:In De-von-shire lived a rich far-mer
E|E2GB|c2Bc|G4- |G2z
w:his daugh-ter to mar-ket did go
w:Be-liev-ing that no-one could harm her
F|G2FE|G2CD|E4- |E2z||
w:Oft times she did ride to and fro

X: 272
T:Farmer From Cheshire
S:Charlie Stringer, Wickham Skeith, Suffolk
w:There was a rich far-mer in Che-shire*
w:And his daugh-ter to mar-ket would go*
w:Think-ing of no harm or dan-ger*
w:For she'd been on that high-way be-fore*

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Subject: RE: Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 12 Feb 05 - 04:25 PM

Malcolm Douglas:

The version of The Crafty Farmer that I know and sing is essentially the same, in both text and tune, as the one in the DT, to which I provided a link.   Of the course MIDI in the DT is rather lifeless, but it's the same tune all right. I think there's a few notes of variation in the second phrase, at "I hope it will give ye content", but otherwise the same.

Dave Oesterreich

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Subject: RE: Origins/Tune Req: The Highwayman Outwitted
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 04:45 PM

Highwayman Outwitted, The [Laws L2]

DESCRIPTION: A highwayman stops a merchant's daughter. When she dismounts, her horse runs home with her money. He abuses her and strips her, then has her hold his horse as he bundles up his gains. She jumps on the horse and rides home, still naked but with his money
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1820 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 c.18(142))
KEYWORDS: outlaw escape clothes
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf) Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Laws L2, "The Highwayman Outwitted"
Logan, pp. 133-136, "The Maid of Rygate" (1 text)
Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 448, "Highwayman" (1 text)
OShaughnessy-Lincolnshire 12, "The Rich Farmer's Daughter" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greenleaf/Mansfield 21, "The Highway Robber" (1 text)
Peacock, pp. 226-228, "The Rich Merchant's Daughter" (1 text, 2 tunes)
MacSeegTrav 89, "The Highwayman Outwitted" (1 text, 1 tune)

ST LL02 (Full)
Roud #2638
Mike Kent, "The Rich Merchant's Daughter" (on PeacockCDROM)
Wiggy Smith, "There Was a Rich Farmer at Sheffield" (on Voice11)

Bodleian, 2806 c.18(142), "The Highwayman Outwitted by the Farmer's Daughter," J. Pitts (London), 1802-1819; also Harding B 11(92), Firth c.17(17), "The Lincolnshire Farmer's Daughter"
cf. "The Crafty Farmer" [Child 283; Laws L1]
NOTES: It's just possible that this has a real-life origin, though I doubt it: David Brandon, in Stand and Deliver! A History of Highway Robbery, 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 wasn't based on this, or perhaps on something like "The Crafty Farmer" and/or "Lovely Joan." - RBW
Last updated in version 3.0
File: LL02

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