Modern Street Ballads

There are very few Statute, or hiring, fairs now in existence, and perhaps it is as well, as a great deal of drunkenness and immorality used to occur at these meetings. The servants stood in groups according to their callings, each bearing some token of their employment; for instance, the carters carried a piece of whipcord. Employers of labour came and personally interviewed them, wages were agreed upon, and the hiring was for a year certain.


You Farmers, Servants, far and near,
Who do reside in —— land
Unto my song attend a while,
These verses will cause you to smile.
Now —— land hirings are come again,
The lasses gay and smart young men,
Drest in their best, all jig away
To see the fun on the hiring day.

When at the hirings they do arrive,
Like bees a swarming in a hive,
The servants they come flocking in,
Until the hirings do begin.
There’s pretty Sally, and pug nosed Poll,
There’s slender Kate and dumpy Doll,
With farmer’s daughters short and long,
To —— land hirings jig, jig along.

They now roll in, both thick and thin,
Jack, Bob, Harry, Tom, and Jim,
Waggoner Dick with his white smock,
He swears he’ll smash his Sally’s clock.
Ploughboy Jim, with whip so long,
Among the lasses soon does throng,
He finds his dear, and makes her sup,
And afterwards the dance keeps up.

Masters and Mistresses enquire.
Of Servants, if they want to hire,
And when good servands they have found,
They try and run the wages down.
They offer such small wages, oh dear!
Will scarce serve you throughout the year,
They want servants, the greedy elves,
To work for nought, and find themselves.

Says John, I ask twenty pound a year.
I’ll take no less I do declare,
There is plenty of work, they say,
For years to come, on the Railway.
So let each servant lad, and man,
Stand up for wages when you can,
For wages they must rise I’m told,
Or else they’ll go to the Railroad.

Then John and Moll walk to and fro,
They take a peep into the show,
John buys her nuts, and cakes, and wine,
With a few yards of ribbon fine.
Then off they go to the Dancing room,
The fiddler he strikes up a tune,
And then, good Lord, what noise and rout,
With John and Molly’s jigging about.

With fiddling, dancing, rum and beer,
Both John and Moll feel rather queer,
John squeezes her hand and looks so sly,
Whilst Molly winks her funny eye.
Then towards home they cross the hill,
They soon forget the Poor Law Bill,
And love plays up a rattling,
While John and Molly jig it again.

So Maids, don’t jig, jig, lest you rue,
Lads, to the lasses be kind and true,
And when jig, jig you wish to play,
To the Hirings jig, jig away.
There, if you give the Parson his fee,
You’ll find quite ready he will be,
To hire you both so neat and trig,
Then send you home to jig, jig.

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