All the Hard Times of Old England

The Copper family of Rottingdean UK,
who preserved this song for us.

Here is a song that was penned in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars and has come to us by way of the Copper Family of Rottingdean, a town on the South coast of England. Ron Copper recorded it in 1958 and later Steeleye Span did an absolutely rocking version.

Of course, the banjo isn't really a traditional English folk instrument. However the banjo was very popular as a parlor instrument in England, as it was everywhere, in the nineteenth century. Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem, 'Song of the Banjo', from the banjo's own point of view. So who knows, maybe our song has been played on the banjo before.

Lyrics: 

Come all brother tradesmen that travel alone,
O, pray come and tell me where the trade is all gone,
Long time I have travelled and cannot find none,
And it's O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.

Provisions you buy at the shop it is true,
But if you've no money there's none there for you.
So what's a poor man and his family to do?
And it's O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.

If you go to a shop and you ask for a job
They will answer you there with a shake and a nod.
That's enough to make a poor man to turn out and rob,
And it's O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.

You will see the poor tradesmen a-walking the street
From morning till night for employment to seek.
And scarcely they have any shoes to their feet,
And it's O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.

Our soldiers and sailors have just come from war,
Been fighting for their King and their country sure,
Come home to be starved better have stayed where they were,
And it's O, the hard times of old England,
In old England very hard times.

So now to conclude and to finish my song
Let us hope that these hard times they will not last long.
And I may soon have occasion to alter my song,
And sing O, the good times of old England,
In old England jolly good times.