“The Choring Song”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1956 (recorded from Travellers in Perthshire)
Keywords: separation prison theft foreignlanguage chickens children family wife prisoner thief Gypsy
Found in: Britain(Scotland)


Travellers' cant. Singer (Drummond) lay last night in a granary; now he's in prison, with "mort" (woman) and "kinshins" (children) scattered. If he gets back to stealing, he'll "moolie the gahnies [kill the hens] in dozens" to leave none to tell

Long description

Travellers' cant. Singer (Big Jimmie Drummond, lay last night in a cold granary; tonight he's in a cold prison, with his "mort" (woman) and "kinshins" (children) scattered. He) swears that if he ever gets back to stealing, he'll "moolie the gahnies [kill the hens] in dozens" and there'll be no one left to tell on him (He says that if he ever goes to prison, he'll see all his friends, then go back to his wife and family)


"Choring" = stealing. This shares verse structure with "Dick Darby," and the "Drummond" version has the classic opening line "My name is Big Jimmie Drummond/My name I'll never deny" from Charles Guiteau and, presumably, its predecessor "The Lamentation of James Rodgers." But the plot, albeit minimal, is different, so it gets its own entry. The song is macaronic, mixing cant with English. - PJS

Cross references


  1. Kennedy 342, "The Choring Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. MacSeegTrav 97, "Big Jimmie Drummond" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Roud #2157 and 2506
  4. BI, McCST097