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Clergyman and the Boy, The

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Place Collected: Quenington
Date collected: 1957 (16 Nov)
Collector: Ballinger, Brian
Roud Number: 2498

This song comes under a variety of titles, such as “Parson Brown’s Sheep” or “Feyther stole the Parson’s Sheep” and is an example of cante-fable where the performance is part spoken and part sung. In some versions, the boy’s song in church reveals that the parson had been sleeping with the boy’s mother, but the object of seduction is usually Molly in oral tradition. Also in some versions, the family later feasts on the stolen sheep.

The song, as a cante-fable, is found on broadsides but collected versions, other than a few scattered ones in England, Scotland and the USA, are relatively rare.

Notes by Gwilym Davies 3 April 2015