Location: Cropwell, Nottinghamshire, England (SK6-3-)
Year: Publ. 1890
Time of Occurrence: Plough Monday
Collective Name: Ploughboys


Mrs. Chaworth Musters
A Cavalier Stronghold : A Romance of the Vale of Belvoir
London, Simpkin, Marshall & others, 1890, pp.387-392



{Enter Tom alone.}

Tom Fool

In comes I, bold Tom,
A brisk and lively young fellow,
I have come to taste of your best beef and ale,
They tell me it is so ripe and mellow.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen all,
It's Plough Monday to-night, that makes Tom so bold as to call ;
But don't take in all I have got to say,
There's plenty more lads and lasses on the way ;
Some can dance and some can sing,
By your consent they shall come in,
Oking, poking, France and Spain,
The recruiting Sergeant just the same.

{Enter Sergeant.}


In come I, the Recruiting Sergeant,
I have just arrived at here.
I have orders from the Queen to enlist all jolly fellows
that follow horse, cart, or plough,
Tinkers, tailors, pedlars, nailers, all to my advance,
The more I hear the fiddle play, the better I can dance.

Tom Fool

Faith, can thee dance? I can dance sing or say ;
If you begin to dance, I soon shall march away.

{Enter The Ribboner.}


In comes I, that lost my mate,
Drooping tears hangs down my fate, [face]
Pity my condition, I do declare,
For a false young girl I am in despair.

{Enter Lady.}

Lady {singing}

Behold the lady bright and gay,
Good fortune and sweet charms ;
How scornfully I have been thrown away,
Right out of my true love's arms.
He swears if I don't wed with him,
Which you will understand,
He'll enlist him for a soldier,
And go into some foreign land.

Sergeant {sings}

Come all ye lads that has a mind
For enlisting, and do not be afraid,
You shall have all kinds of liquors,
Likewise kiss the pretty maid.
{To the Ribboner}
Are you free-hearted and willing, young man?
On your hat I pin this ribbon,
In your hand I place this shilling.

Ribboner {sings}

Thank you, kind Sergeant, for your offer,
If I stay longer I may fare worse ;
Dash my wig if I will grieve any longer
For this proud and saucy lass.


Since my love is listed, and entered volunteer,
I neither mean to sigh for him, nor shed one tear.

Tom the Fool

Dost thou love me, my pretty fair maid?


Yes, Tommy, to my sorrow.

Tom the Fool

When shall be our wedding day?


Tommy, love, to-morrow!

{All take hold of hands and sing}


They make bands and we shake hands,
And Tommy, love, to-morrow.

{Enter Threshing Blade.}

Threshing Blade

In comes I, old Thrashing Blade,
All good people ought to know
My old dad learnt me this trade
Just ninety years ago.
I have thrashed in this part of the country,
and in many other parts.
I will thrash you, Tommy, before I go.
That's the way to give it him.

{beats Tommy}

{Enter Hopper Joe.}

Hopper Joe

In comes I, old Hopper Joe,
I can either plough, sow, reap or mow,
And I hope the Master will bestow
All he can afford us in our hopper O !
Not only that, I am old Sankey-Benny,
I have three or four yards of black-and-white tape in my pocket,
I will sell you it all for a penny.

Tom the Fool

Sank, my lad, what have you got in the hardware line;
anything but soft soap and treacle?

Hopper Joe

Them's just the two things that I have not got.
I'll call on you a week last Tuesday.

Tom the Fool

Thank you, old rag-bag.

{Enter Farmer's Man.}

Farmer's Man

In comes I, the Farmer's Man,
Don't you see my capping hand?
I go forth and plough the master's land,
And turn it upside down.
How I straight I go from end to end.
I scarcely make a baulk or bend;
And to my horses I attend
As they go marching round the end.
Hov-ve, gee, wo! {cracks his whip.}

{Enter Dame Jane, with a baby.}

Dame Jane

In comes I, old Dame Jane,
With a neck as long as a crane ;
Dib-dab over the meadow.
Once I was a blooming maid,
Now I am a downright old widow.
Long time I have sought thee,
And now I have caught thee.
Tommy, take the child.

Tom the Fool

The child, Jane!
it's none of mine.
Who told you bring it here?

Dame Jane

The overseer of the parish told me to bring it to the biggest fool I could find,
and I think you be him,
for its eyes, nose, cheeks and chin,
is as much like you as ever it can grin.

Tom the Fool

Is it a boy or a girl?

Dame Jane

It is a girl.

Tom the Fool

Mine is all boys.
Take it and swear it to the town pump, old rag-bag.

{Enter Beelzebub.}


In comes I, Beelzebub,
On my shoulder I carry my club,
In my hand a wet leather frying pan ;
Don't you think I'm a funny old man?
Is there any old woman that can stand afore me?

Dame Jane

I think I can.
My head is made of iron,
My body made of steel,
My hands and feet of knuckle-bone,
I think nobody can make me feel.


If your head is made of iron,
Your body made of steel,
Your hands and feet of knuckle-bone,
I think I can make me feel, old girl!

{knocks Dame Jane down.}

Tom the Fool

Oh, Beelzey! oh, Beelzey! what hast thou done?
Thou hast kilt the old woman and limted [lamed] her son.
Five pounds for a doctor,
Ten to stop away,
Fifteen to come in.

{Enter Doctor.}


Wo! my lad, take hold of my donkey,
and mind he does not kick you.
In comes I, the doctor, -

Tom the Fool

You the doctor?


Yes, me the doctor!

Tom the Fool

How came you to be the doctor?


By my travels.

Tom the Fool

Where have you travelled?


England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales;
back again to doctor old England ;
fireside, bedside, by my old grandmother's cupboard-side,
where I have had many pieces of pork pie.
That makes me as big and fine a fellow as you are, Tom.

Tom the Fool

Is that all your travels?


No ;
when I was down in Yorkshire
my old grandmother tumbled upstairs
with an empty teapot full of flour
and grazed her shin-bone,
and made her stocking-leg bleed,
and I cured that.

Tom the Fool

What diseases can you cure?


The hipsy-pipsy, palsy, and the gout,
Aches within, aches without,
Draw a leg, set a tooth,
And almost raise the dead to life again.

Tom the Fool

You seem a very clever young man,
you better try a little of your skill.


Thank you, kind sir,
I'll show you a pretty pass when I get my glasses on.
I'll feel of this old body's pulse first.
Her pulse beats very irregularly ;
nineteen times to the tick of my watch once.
She is in a very low way;
she will not get a deal lower without there is a hole dug for her.
She has been living on green potato-tops
a fortnight without water.
She has swallowed a donkey and cart,
and can't digest the wheels.
Now old lady, let me see your tongue,
let me hear you cough.
I have a little drop of snick-snarle
in my coat waistcoat breeches pocket lining;
shaken before taken,
one drop in a morning,
two at night,
and swallow the bottle at dinner-time.
I have also got a box of my fatmetical [pharmaceutical] pills ;
you must take one in the morning,
two at night,
and swallow the box at tea-time,
which will help to digest the wheels
and purify your blood.
Do you know good ladies and gentlemen,
this old girl is not really dead,
She is in a trance,
So raise her up and let her dance;
If she can't dance we can sing,
So raise her up and let's begin.

{All dance a country dance, and sing various solo songs; then all sing together -}


Good Master and good Mistress,
As you sit round your fire,
Remember us poor plough lads,
That plough through mud and mire.
The mire has been so very deep,
We travel far and near,
We thank you for a Christmas box,
And a pitcher of your best beer.
{As they go out of the hall, all sing -}
We thank you for civility,
And what you gave us here;
We wish you all good night,
And another happy year.


"The dresses are white shirts, worn over the men's ordinary clothes, and ornamented with horses cut out in black and red, and ribbons of any colour. The dialogue that follows was written down by one of the players at Cropwell"
This play text was appended to a historical novel published in 1890 by Mrs. Chaworth Musters of Wiverton Hall, near Bingham.
The Chaworth Musters family used to encourage the Cropwell and Tithby Ploughboys by inviting them to perform their play to hunting parties at the Hall. For the Ploughboys, this was the high point of the year, especially as they were wined and dined and given 7/6 each as a reward. In those days, seven shillings and sixpence were riches.
Several Notts village sides used Mrs Chaworth Musters' book as a source for their play text.

File History:

1998-09-05 - Entered by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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