The journeyman tailor, song

Eddie Butcher, singing in English
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As I went out walking one morning in May
A journeyman tailor by chance came that way;
He being brisk and airy and she saw him pass by,
She called to that young man and bid him draw nigh.

– Where were you born or where were you bred?
Or what is your name, sir? pray tell me your trade.
– I was born nigh Derry, fair lady, said he,
And James was the name that my godfather gave me.

–James, in this country I would have you to tarry
And some pretty fair maid I would have you to marry;
Perhaps that your rambling might increase your store,
So James,  in this country you will ramble no more.

James, I would have you for to marry me
And you’ll get attendants for to wait upon you
And then you’ll have a footboy for to walk by your side
And the day you get married, James, I’ll be your bride.

– My rambling, fair lady, I don’t value one pin,
I’m always endeavouring a living to win;
Oh, but wedding with one that’s not fit for to be,
So therefore, fair lady, we will never agree.

Her father was listening how he pled his cause
He steppéd up to him, gave him great applause,
And suchen a wedding, sure never was seen
As the journeyman tailor and his beautiful queen.


Neither broadside editions nor versions from Britain are known, though a song sung in Scotland contains a verse similar to v. 3: Greig LXI and SSS SA52 8B14. The song appears to be a nineteenth-century Irish one which was transmitted orally to America and Australia by Irish emigrants, perhaps without taking root in Britain. The travelling tailor is traditionally notorious as a seducer of females – see O’Sullivan p.40 – and apparent ignorance of this fact, or indifference to it, might be an indication of provincial authorship; at least two expatriate versions retain mention of Derry (Karpeles, Moore). Canadian versions have replaced the Irish ‘journeyman tailor’ by a more familiar kind of hero, the ‘jovial young sailor’. But the journeyman tailor was common enough in Ireland when the song was composed: ‘There are 19 tailors in the Parish of Magilligan – including journeymen and Apprentices – Charge for making a Frize Coat at the farmer’s house 2s./2d. For making Breeches or trowsers 15/0 p pair –  For making a Waistcoat 15/0’ – OS 10.