“The Derby Ram”

Alternate titles: “The Beast of Derbytown”; “The Darby Tup”; “The Old Tup”; “The Ram of Derby (Darby)”; “The Ram Song”; “The Wattle Flat Ram”; “The Great Sheep”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1827 (Kinloch)
Keywords: animal talltale bawdy bragging humorous lie
Found in: Britain(England) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So,SW) Australia Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont) Jamaica

Description

The singer travels to Derby and sees the amazing Derby Ram. Its size and power are described in expansive detail (with the details varying). Most versions end with the slaughter of the ram. "If you had been to Derby, you'd have seen it as well as I"

Notes

This is another of the ballads Child excluded from his ESPB, presumably because the "hero" is an animal. The contemporary bawdy song is descended from English mummer plays, and those, in turn, are perhaps relics of medieval mystery plays.

Randolph-Legman has extensive, if rambling and opinionated, notes on this ballad. - EC

And if it had been trimmed, we'd say "He rambled till that editor cut him down." (Sorry.) -PJS

It's times like these I'm REALLY glad I can blame these notes on somebody else.

Ford reports, without accepting it, that "a prisoner had been condemned to death, in the time of the feudal laws, and was promised free pardon should he succeed in composing a song without a grain of truth in it, and that this was the song he produced." Of course, he could just as well have produced the previous story.... - RBW

Same tune

Cross references

Recordings

References

  1. Belden, pp. 224-225, "The Derby Ram" (1 text)
  2. Randolph 106, "The Derby Ram" (2 texts plus a mixed fragment, 1 tune)
  3. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 137-139, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 106A)
  4. Randolph-Legman I, pp. 89-96, "The Darby Ram" (8 texts, 1 tune)
  5. Eddy 81, "The Darby Ram" (1 text)
  6. Gardner/Chickering 190, "The Darby Ram" (2 texts plus an excerpt and mention of 1 more, 2 tunes)
  7. Meredith/Anderson, pp. 112-113, 120-121, "The Derby Ram"; p. 153, "Inky Dinky Derby Town" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  8. BrownII 176, "The Derby Ram" (1 text plus a fragment)
  9. Chappell-FSRA 105, "Ram of Darby" (1 text)
  10. Hudson 127, pp. 273-274, "The Ram of Derby" (1 text)
  11. Fuson, p. 58, "Darby's Sheep" (1 text)
  12. Brewster 75, "The Derby Ram" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  13. Creighton/Senior, pp. 241-242, "Derby Ram" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  14. Colcord, p. 136, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune -- sailors' version; the ram goes to sea but still gets slaughtered)
  15. Hugill, pp. 437-438, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune) [AbEd, pp. 328-329]
  16. Peacock, pp. 10-11, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
  17. Flanders/Brown, pp. 100-101, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
  18. SharpAp 141, "The Derby Ram" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  19. Friedman, p. 441, "The Derby Ram" (1 text)
  20. Cray, pp. 23-28, "The Derby Ram" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  21. FSCatskills 151, "The Darby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
  22. Fahey-Eureka, pp. 212-213, "The Albury Ram" (1 text, 1 tune, with a chorus borrowed from "Clear Away the Morning Dew")
  23. Paterson/Fahey/Seal, pp. 270-272, "The Albury Ram" (1 text, with the same "Clear Away the Morning Dew" chorus as in Fahey-Eureka)
  24. Kennedy 304, "The Ram Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
  25. Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 38-40, "[The Darby Ram]" (1 text, 1 tune)
  26. Ritchie-Southern, p. 53, "Darby Ram (1 text, 1 tune)
  27. Chase, pp. 134-136, "The Darby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
  28. Botkin-NEFolklr, pp. 577-578, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
  29. Manifold-PASB, p. 97, "The Ram of Dalby" (1 text, 1 tune)
  30. Meredith/Covell/Brown, pp. 139-140, "The Derby Shed Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
  31. Kinloch-BBook XXVI, pp. 80-81, "The Ram of Diram" (1 text)
  32. Ford-Vagabond, pp. 124-125, "The Ram o' Bervie" (1 text, 1 tune)
  33. Opie-Oxford2 129, "As I was going to Derby" (1 text)
  34. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #805, p. 298-300, "(As I was going to Derby)"
  35. Silber-FSWB, p. 404, "The Darby Ram" (1 text)
  36. DT 312, DERBYRAM DERBYRM2 DRBYRAM3* (DERBYRM4) DRBYRAM5 DERBYRM7*
  37. ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "Derby Ram" is in Part 1, 7/14/1917.
  38. Roud #126
  39. BI, R106