“Nelly the Milkmaid”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1957 (recording, O. J. Abbott)
Keywords: bawdy sex seduction childbirth
Found in: Canada(Ont) Britain(England) US(So)


Nelly, coming home from the wake (a country dance, not a funeral), is seduced, her ravisher, sometimes named Roger, assuring her he was merely "shooting at the cat." In some versions she gives birth to a son whom she names Shoot the Cat.



  1. Randolph-Legman I, pp. 169-172, "Nelly the Milkmaid" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  2. Fowke/MacMillan 62, "Nellie Coming Home From the Wake" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #1606
  4. BI, RL169