M.W.Barley Collection (1957, W.Gascoyne)


Location: town
North Muskham
Time of Occurrence
[Not given]
Collective name
Plough Boys


Source author
Source title
Source publication
1st Feb.1954, Ref. Ba P 1/28


Tom Fool
Recruiting Sergeant / King Sergeant
Lady / Lady Bright and Gay / Polly
Thrashing Blade
Eezum Squeezum
Little Clown


Tom Fool

In comes I that's never been before.
There's six more actors at the door;
Some can dance and some can sing.
By your consent they shall come in.
Hokum Pokum France and Spain,
Step in King Sergeant once again.

Recruiting Sergeant

In comes I the Recruiting Sergeant,
I've arrived here just now,,
I've had orders from the King
To list all jolly fellows
That follow horse, cart or plough.
Tinkers, Tailors, pedlars, nailers,
Chimney sweeps to my advance,
The more I hear the fiddler play,
The better I can dance.

Tom Fool

Faith lad, ye dance ?

Recruiting Sergeant:

I can either dance, sing or say.

Tom Fool

Don't die nor fear.
In a short time the Lady will appear.

Lady {singing to the Wassail tune}

In comes the Lady bright and gay
With fortunes and sweet charms
I've constantly got thrown away
right into my lover's arms.
He swears that I will wed with him
As you may understand;
I've got another sweetheart
And along with him I'll go.

Recruiting Sergeant

Do you love me Polly ?


Yes to be sorry.

Recruiting Sergeant

When shall it be, our wedding day ?

Lady {Wassail song} [Note 1]

Tomorrow will be our wedding day
And we will then repair
Unto the Bell at Edmonton
All in a chaise and pair.

Thrashing Blade {Carrying a stocking stuffed}

In comes I old Thrashing Blade
I've thrashed all over England
And I'll thrash you, Tom.

Tom Fool

Thrash me?

Thrashing Blade

Yes, thrash you {hits him with stocking}.

{Tom Fool falls}


Five pounds for a doctor.

[Another No.1]

Ten to stop away.

[Another No.2]

Fifteen to come to Muskham to a sad case like this!

Doctor {raps loudly}

Woa boys, Woa boys.
Take hold of my horse;
take hold of his tail.
I've just come horse back on a pig.
Give him a good stiff feed of thack pegs,
groom him down with a brick,
drink with an iron bar,
and in comes I the Doctor.

Recruiting Sergeant

How became you a doctor ?


By my travels.

Recruiting Sergeant:

Where'd you travel?


England, Ireland, France and Spain,
And many more nations I can't name.
I've been to York,
I've cured Mrs. Cork;
emptied a teapot half full of flour,
tumbled upstairs,
made my stocking leg bleed.
I've been further than that:
I've been to Hellamatitty,
where there's neither land nor city,
pigstyes paved with dumplings,
houses thatched with pancakes,
little pigs running up and down the street
with knives and forks in their belly,
crying out: "Who'll eat me?"
I've run punch-kick at one,
knocked him over nineteen hedges and twenty church steeples,
and I broke every back-bone he had in his ribs.

Recruiting Sergeant

You seem a very clever doctor.
Please try your skill on this young man.

Doctor {Examines him}

His pulse is very weak;
well I'll soon put that right.
He's had a wheelbarrow across his chest
and it won't digest.
Feed him on green taty tops for a week
and give him a good dose of epsom salts
and he'll be quite alright.
This man's not dead he's in a trance.
Rise up, young man, and let us dance.

{Enter Eezum Squeezum:}

Eezum Squeezum

In comes I old Eezum Squeezum.
On my back I carry my besom.
Under my arm an old tin pan;
Don't you think I'm a funny old man ?
Money I want and money I crave.
If you don't give me money
I'll sweep you all to the grave.

Little Clown

In comes I the Little Clown.
I carry my box under my arm:
Penny or twopence'll do no harm,
Sixpence or shilling'll do more good
Because it's made of the very best wood.
Ladies and gentlemen
sit down at your ease,
Put your hands in your pockets
and pay what you please.

{Players then receive gifts of food, drink, and money.}


{All sing (Wassail tune)}

Good master and good mistress
As you sit by your fire,
Remember us poor plough lads
Who plough through mud and mire;
The mire it is so very deep
And the water runs so clear;
We thank you for your Christmas box
And a gallon of your best beer.


Barley's Notes:

Two teams - one men, one youths. W. Gascoyne was in youths team - 18-20 years of age. When they came to the Old Hall, N. Muskham, they came into the scullery and knocked at the kitchen door, opened it and said: "Plough boys are here; may we act ?"

Costumes: For Lady..Harry Clipsham padded out with straw, bustle behind.

Faces blacked except Doctor.

Doctor with false moustache.

Eezum Squeezum..Old black hat; sack over him, and sacking tied out over arms, stuffed.

Tom Fool. "patched-up" clothing.

Rehearsed "in anybody's barn". Last done before 1914.

Indexer's Notes

Note 1 - This verse is taken from the poem "The Diverting History of John Gilpin" by William Cowper (1782)