“Frog Went A-Courting”

Alternate titles: “There Was a Puggie in a Well”; “There Lived a Puddie in the Well”; “The Frog's Wooing”; “Y Broga Bach (Welsh)”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: perhaps 1549 (Wedderburn's "Complaynt of Scotland"); there is a reference in the Stationer's Register of 1580 to "A Moste Strange Weddinge of the Frogge and the Mouse"
Keywords: animal courting love marriage request
Found in: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So,SW) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England(West)) Ireland

Description

Frog rides to ask Miss Mouse to marry him. She is willing but must ask permission of Uncle Rat. Rat's permission received, the two work out details of the wedding. (Some versions end with a cat or other creature devouring the participants)

Notes

The notes on this song in Cazden et al (pp. 524-532) constitute probably the best succinct summary available on variants of this piece.

Spaeth has a note that the original version of this was supposed to refer to the Duke of Anjou's wooing of Elizabeth I of England. If the second known version (1611, in Melismata, reprinted in Chappell) were the oldest, this might be possible -- there are seeming political references to "Gib, our cat" and "Dick, our Drake." But the Wedderburn text, which at least anticipates the song, predates the reign of Queen Elizabeth by nine years, and Queen Mary of by four. If it refers to any queen at all, it would have to be Mary Stuart.

Those who want a version of this piece which does not involve inter-species hanky-panky are advised to try J. A. Scott's version (or other American texts); in this, both creatures are mice. Of course, it does end with the cat interfering with the festivities.

In addition to "pure" texts of this song, some there exist versions which have gotten mixed with "Martin Said to His Man." The versions I've seen are often titled "Kitty Alone" ; the first such text seems to have been in Gammer Gurton's Garland (1784), which has clearly a "Frog" plot but the form (and some of the exaggerations) of "Martin." - RBW

Cross references

Recordings

References

  1. Leather, pp. 209-210, "The Frog and the Mouse" (2 texts)
  2. Belden, pp. 494-499, "The Frog's Courtship" (7 texts in 3 groups, 2 tunes; several of the texts are short, and IB at least appears to be "Kemo Kimo")
  3. Randolph 108, "The Frog's Courtship" (5 texts plus 5 excerpts, 2 tunes)
  4. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 139-141, "The Frog's Courtship" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 108A)
  5. BrownIII 120, "The Frog's Courtship" (7 texts plus 13 excerpts, 2 fragments, and mention of 5 more; "Kemo Kimo" in appendix)
  6. Hudson 136, pp. 282-283, "The Frog's Courting" (1 text plus mention of 9 more)
  7. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 244-248, "The Frog He Went A-Courting" (3 texts, the first two, with local titles "Frog Went A-Courting" and "Frog Went Courting" and tune on p. 420, are this song; the third item, "The Gentleman Frog," is separate, probably part of the "Kemo Kimo"/"Frog in the Well" family)
  8. Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 46-48, "Frog Went A-Courtin'"; p. 48, (no title); pp. 48-50, "Mister Frog) (3 texts, 1 tune)
  9. Brewster 42, "The Frog Went A-Courting" (5 texts plus an excerpt and mention of 4 more, 3 tunes -- one of them of the "Kitty Alone" type)
  10. Eddy 44, "The Frog and the Mouse" (5 texts, 2 tunes)
  11. Gardner/Chickering 189, "The Frog's Courtship" (2 texts plus an exceprt and mention of 5 more, 3 tunes)
  12. Greenleaf/Mansfield 40, "The First Come in it was a Rat" (1 text)
  13. Creighton/Senior, pp. 250-254, "The Frog and the Mouse" (3 texts plus 4 fragments, 2 tunes)
  14. Creighton-NovaScotia 89, "It Was a Mouse" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 83, "The Frog and the Mouse" (1 text, 1 tune)
  16. Mackenzie 155, "A Frog He Would a Wooing Go" (1 text, 1 tune)
  17. Flanders/Olney, pp. 11-13, "Gentleman Froggie" (1 text, 1 tune)
  18. Linscott, pp. 199-202, "A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go" (1 text, 1 tune)
  19. Kennedy 294, "The Frog and the Mouse" (1 text, 1 tune)
  20. McNeil-SFB2, pp. 41-43, "Frog Went A-Courtin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  21. Wyman-Brockway I, p. 25, "Frog Went A-Courting" (1 text, 1 tune)
  22. Wyman-Brockway II, p. 86, "The Toad's Courtship" (1 text, 1 tune)
  23. Fowke/Johnston, pp. 170-171, "A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go" (1 text, 1 tune)
  24. FSCatskills 142, "Missie Mouse" (1 text, 1 tune)
  25. SharpAp 220, "A Frog He Went A-courting" (11 texts, 11 tunes)
  26. Sharp/Karpeles-80E 75, "The Frog and the Mouse" (1 text, 1 tune -- a composite version)
  27. Sandburg, p. 143, "Mister Frog Went A-Courting" (1 text, 1 tune)
  28. Scott-BoA, pp. 339-341, "The Mouse's Courting Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
  29. Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 32 "King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O" (1 text, 1 tune)
  30. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 310-313, "Frog Went A-Courtin'" (1 text, 1 tune)
  31. Botkin-NEFolklr, pp. 571-572, "The Frog in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
  32. Botkin-SoFolklr, p. 722, "Frog Went A-Courting" (1 text, 1 tune)
  33. PSeeger-AFB, p. 56, "Froggie Went A-Courtin'" (1 text, 1 tune)
  34. Pankake-PHCFSB, pp. 48-49, "Froggie Went A-Courting" (1 text)
  35. JHCox 162, "The Frog and the Mouse" (3 texts plus mention of two more including some excerpts, 1 tune)
  36. JHCoxIIB, #22A-E, pp. 174-182, "Mr. Mouse Went A-Courting," "The Frog and the Mouse," "Frog Went A-Courting," "A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go" (3 texts plus 2 fragments, 5 tunes)
  37. Opie-Oxford2 175, "A frog he would a-wooing go" (3 texts)
  38. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #69, pp. 77-79, "(There was a frog liv'd in a well)" (a complex composite with a short version of "Frog Went A-Courting" plus enough auxiliary verses to make an almost complete "Kemo Kimo" text)
  39. Montgomerie-ScottishNR 193, "(There dwelt a puddy in a well)" (1 text, very long, containing a full "Frog Went A-Courting" version plus sundry "Kemo Kimo" type verses)
  40. Chappell/Wooldridge I, pp. 142-143, "The Wedding of the Frog and Mouse" (1 text, 1 tune)
  41. Silber-FSWB, p. 403, "Frog Went A-Courtin'" (1 text)
  42. BBI, ZN3249, "It was a frog in a well"
  43. DT 306, FRGCORT2* PUDDYWL2
  44. ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II, p. 194 (1931), "A Frog Went Courting" (1 text)
  45. Roud #16
  46. BI, R108