I was flipping through Our Singing Country and I thought this one was just cute. Incidentally, Sir Thomas Bolyn does appear to be the father of Anne Boleyn, wife of King Henry VIII… but I have a hard time believing this is anything more than a coincidence due to a reasonably well-known family name. He’s more likely to be Sleepy Eyed John’s brother or something.
Tom Bolyn was Scotchman born,
His shoes wore out and his stockings were torn
The calf of his leg came down to his shin.
“I’m a hell of a fellow,” says Tom Bolyn.
Tom Bolyn had no boots to wear,
He bought him a goatskin to make him a pair,
The woolly side out and the skinny side in,
“Well, they’re cool in the summer,” says Tom Bolyn.
Tom Bolyn bought an old gray mare,
Her sides was sore, her feet was bare;
Away he went through thick and thin.
“For I’m going a-courting,” says Tom Bolyn.
He rode over to a Dutchman’s hall,
There he got down amongst them all;
“Come in, come in, I bid you come in,”
“Oh, I’ve come here a-courting,” says Tom Bolyn.
“Come in, come in, you welcome guest,
Take which of my daughters that you like the best.”
“I’ll take one for love and the other for kin,
Oh, I’ll marry them both,” says Tom Bolyn.
After the wedding we must have a dinner;
They had nothing to eat that was fit for a sinner,
Nor fish, flesh, food, nor no such a thing —
“It’s a hell of a dinner,” says Tom Bolyn.
And after the dinner, we must have a bed;
The floor it was swept and the straw it was spread;
The blankets was short and besides very thin,
“Stick you close to my back,” says Tom Bolyn.
But his wife’s mother said the very next day,
“You must find another place to stay —
I can’t lie awake and hear you snore;
Oh, you cannot stay in my house any more.”
Tom got into a hollow tree,
And very contented he seemed to be;
The wind did blow and the rain beat in.
“This is better than no house,” says Tom Bolyn.
Tom Bolyn, his wife and wife’s mother,
They all went over the bridge together,
The bridge it broke and they all went in,
“I’ll be first to the bottom!” says Tom Bolyn.
I’ve tweaked the words in just a few places to make it scan better. I also found, as I was singing through it, that for some reason my voice wanted to get a few of the notes wrong… so I tweaked the tune as well, mostly just decorating a few runs of repeated notes. You can find the original words and tune just as the Lomaxes collected them, courtesy of the Digital Tradition Folk Music Database.