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X:1 T:Three Merry Travellers, who paid their shot wherever they came, without ever a Stiver of Money (The) M:3/2 L:1/8 R:Air B:D'Urfey - Pills to Purge Melancholy vol. 6 (1720, p. 177) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:C G2|c4 d2 e2d2c2|e2f2g2 g4 fe|f4 g2 a4g2|f3a g2 e2 c2c2| c2d2c2 A2B2c2|d4 d2 G4g2|g2f2e2 d2e2f2|e2c4 z2z2||

THREE TRAVELLERS. AKA - "Never a penny of money," "Soldiers three," "There was/were three travellers." English, Air (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. This bawdy song was printed in D’Urfey’s Pills to Purge Melancholy, vol. 6 (1720, p. 177) as "The Three Merry Travellers, who paid their shot wherever they came, without ever a Stiver of Money", and issued on broadsides under various titles. Frank Kidson remarked: "A somewhat similar song is found on ballad sheets under the name 'The Adventures of a Penny.' This, with the tune, exists traditionally in Yorkshire"[1]. In the Bagford Collection the ballad appears under the title "The Jovial Companions; or, The Merry Travelers, who paid their shot where ever they came, without ever a stiver of money (to an excellent North-country tune)." D'Urfey's words go:

There were three travellers, travellers three,
With a hey down, ho down, lanktre down derry,
And they would go travel the North Country,
Without ever a stiver of money. .... stiver = a penny

They travelled east, and they travelled west,
With a hey down, &c.
Wherever they came still they drank of the best,
Without ever a stiver of money.

A jolly young widow did smiling appear,
With a hey down, &c.
Who gave them a banquet of delicate cheer,
Without ever, &c.

At length by good fortune they came to an inn,
With a hey down, &c.
And they were as merry as e'er they had been,
Without ever, &c.

A jolly young widdow did smiling appear,
Who drest them a banquet of delicate cheer

Both chicken and sparrow-grass she did provide,
You're welcome kind gentlemen, welcome she cry'd

They called for liqor, both beer, ale and wine,
And every thing that was curious and fine

They drank to their hostess a merry full bowl,
She pledg'd them in love, like a generous soul

The hostess, her maid, and cousin all three,
They kist and was merry, as merry cou'd be

Full bottles and glasses replenish'd the board,
No liquors was wanting the house could afford

When they had been merry good part of the day,
They called their hostess to know what's to pay

There's thirty good shillings, and six pence, she cry'd,
They told her that she should be soon satisfy'd

The handsomest man of the three up he got,
He laid her on her back, and paid her the shot

The middlemost man to her cousin he went,
She being handsome, he gave her content

The last man of all he took up with the maid,
And thus the whole shot it was lovingly paid

The hostess, the cousin, the servant, we find,
Made courtesies, and thank'd them for being so kind

The hostess said, welcome kind gentlemen all,
If you chance to come this way be please to call

Then taking their leaves they went merrily out,
And they're gone for to travel the nation about

The ‘north country’ referenced in the first stanza means the northern counties of England.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2), 1859; p. 97. Moffat (The Minstrelsy of England), 1901; p. 30.

Recorded sources : - Elektra Records EKL 110, Ed McCurdy, Alan Arkin, Erik Darling - "When Dalliance Was in Flower" (1956).

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  1. Alfred Moffat with Frank Kidson, The Minstrelsy of England, 1901, p. 130.