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Croppy Tailor, The

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Performer: Brazil, Danny
Place Collected: Staverton
Date collected: 1978 (5 Mar)
Collector: Davies, Gwilym
Roud Number: 311

English traditional delights in songs of marital infidelity, especially when the adulterer gets his (or her) come-uppance in a humorous way.  A similar theme occurs in the song “The Tailor and the Chest”.  The theme of this song is very old and universal but the song can only be traced back to the 19th century, to a broadside “Tailor and Trooper”, with the action set in Liverpool.  Since then it has turned up several times, mainly in England but occasionally in  other locations, with the action moving to London.  Danny’s setting of the song in “Fairmye” may be a mishearing of “very nigh”.

The use of the word “Croppy” is curious.  Croppy usually refers to the Irish rebels of the 1798 uprising who cropped their hair short.  The same phrase turnes up in Danny’s song “The Croppy Boy” which is more obviously of Irish origin.  Irish versions do refer to the “Wee Croppy Tailor” but at least one earlier English version refers to “The Groggy Old Tailor”, which may have given rise to Danny’s “Croppy”.

Tailors in folklore have long been the but of humour and never come off well in folksongs.


Notes by Gwilym Davies 13 February 2016