Tag Archives: Roy Palmer

Three Acres And A Cow – unattributed broadside from late 1800’s

Three Acres And A Cow – unattributed broadside from late 1800’s

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**Please note I have changed some of the lyrics and a bit of the melody – this is fine and you are welcome to change them too – that is how music works #notsacred**

You’ve heard a lot of talk about three acres and a cow
And if they mean to give us why don’t they give it now?
For if I do not get it I may go out of my mind
There’s nothing but the land and cow will keep me satisfied

Don’t you wish you had it now, three acres and a cow!
Oh you can make good cheese and butter when you get the cow.

There’s a certain class in England that is holding fortune great
Yet they give a man a starving wage to work on their estate
The land’s been stolen from the poor and those that hold it now
They do not want to give a man three acres and a cow

D’y’ think they’ll ever want to give three acres and a cow
When they can get a man to take low wage to drive the plough
To live a man he has to work from daylight until dark
So the lord can have both bulls and cattle grazing in his park

But now there is a pretty go in all the country though
The workers they all want to know what the government will do
And what we have been looking for, I wish they’d give us now
We’re sure to live if they only give three acres and a cow

If all the land in England was divided up quite fair
There would be some for everyone to earn an honest share
Well some have thousand acre farms which they have got somehow
But I’ll be satisfied to get three acres and a cow

Lyrics in the public domain
Scan taken from ‘The Painful Plough
‘ by Roy Palmer and reprinted with permission.

The Fowlers’ Complaint (The Powtes Complaint) 1611 – The Fens – Trad

The Fowlers’ Complaint (The Powtes Complaint) 1611

Come, Brethren of the water and let us all assemble
To treat upon this matter, which makes us quake and tremble;
For we shall rue, if it be true, that the Fens be undertaken,
And where we feed in Fen and Reed, they’ll feed both Beef and Bacon.

They’ll sow both beans and oats where never man yet thought it,
Where men did row in boat, ere the undertakers bought it:
But, Ceres, thou behold us now, let wild oats be their venture,
Oh let the frogs and miry bogs destroy where they do enter.

Behold the great design, which they do now determine,
Will make our bodies pine, a prey to crows and vermine:
For they do mean all Fens to drain, and waters overmaster,
All will be dry, and we must die, ’cause Essex calves want pasture.

Away with boats and rudder, farewell both boots and skatches,
No need of one nor th’other, men now make better matches;
Stilt-makers all and tanners shall complain of this distaster;
For they will make each muddy lake for Essex calves a pasture.

The feather’d fowls have wings, to fly to other nations;
But we have no such things, to aid our transportations;
We must give place (oh grievous case) to horned beasts and cattle,
Except that we can all agree to drive them out by battle.

Wherefore let us intreat our ancient water nurses,
To shew their power so great as t’ help to drain their purses;
And send us good old Captain Flood to lead us out to battle,
Then two-penny Jack, with skales on’s back, will drive out all the cattle.

This noble Captain yet was never know to fail us,
But did the conquest get of all that did assail us;
His furious rage none could assuage; but, to the world’s great wonder,
He bears down banks, and breaks their cranks and whirlygigs asunder.

God Eolus, we do pray, that thou wilt not be wanting,
Thou never said’st us nay, now listen to our canting:
Do thou deride their hope and pride, that purpose our confusion;
And send a blast, that they in haste may work no good conclusion.

Great Neptune (God of seas), this work must needs provoke thee;
They mean thee to disease, and with Fen water choke thee:
But, with thy mace, do thou deface, and quite confound this matter;
And send thy sands, to make dry lands, when they shall want fresh water.

And eke we pray thee Moon, that thou wilt be propitious,
To see that nought be done to prosper the malicious;
Though summer’s heat hath wrought a feat, whereby themselves they flatter,
Yet be so good as send a flood, lest Essex calves want water.

Song about enclosure of land in the Fens from 1611. Lyrics in the
public domain – taken from ‘A Ballad History Of England’ by Roy Palmer.

A Ballad History of England by Roy Palmer

rp---bhA Ballad History of England
by Roy Palmer

Roy Palmer has spent much of the last thirty years hunting for ballads and using them to weave together a people’s history of England. He has mastered the art of this in a number of excellent books of which this is a great starting point.

This book is utterly superb and should be bought without hesitation. Each song has a melody and words, along with a page or two giving its historical context.