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Jam Lady

Oats and Beans and Barley Grow

I'm working on an entry about oats / oatmeal for my website. There's a children's folk song: oats and beans and barley grow. Alternate: oats, peas, beans, and barley grow.

Googling seems to just get me lyrics, music (a tune called Baltimore), renditions with children or folk singers. No background.

Anyone have any background to share - origin, history, age, anything?

There's much more about "wild oats" BTW


jam lady

And little lambs eat ivy?

Don't know much more than what I found on wikipedia, including some history and this:

that seems vaguely familiar, oats , beans ,barley ( no peas as i recall )

i had probably met it in the 1960's from a primary school song book that was maybe printed in the late 30's early 40's.

pastiche or version of an old song ? i have no idea.

there was a late victorian "folk revival " in the uk which involved both collecting old ones and both adapting those to be polite and creating new ones in the genre.

exhibit one

upland view
Jam Lady

I forgot about that one, Slim! Thanks for reminding me that

Oh, mairzy doats and dozy doats and little lambsy divey
A kiddle divey, too. Wouldn't you?
If the words sound queer and funny to your ear,
A little bit jumbled and jivey.
Say, "Mares eat oats and does eat oats
and little lambs eat ivy."
Oh, mairzy doats and dozy doats and little lambsy divey
A kiddle divey, too. Wouldn't you?

As far as wild oats, the most historical tidbit I could find states that the saying is first recorded in English in 1542, in a tract by the Norfolk Protestant clergyman Thomas Becon. A related phrase appears in the works of the Roman author Plautus.

But I could not find anything about Plautus, other than that he was a comedian.

mersey docks and harbour board and little lambs eat ivy was a recurring addition to their signs Laughing

My grandmother and mother used to sing the "mares eat oats and does eat oats" song in the 1940's, as an incentive to get me to sleep as a child-didn't work-I used to sing with them.
stumbling goat

You could try contacting Cecil Sharpe House.

I understand that they have a library and archives of old English folk songs, and folk song history.

maybe worth a message?

Mistress Rose

I have never come across that one Jam Lady. We used to do a lot of folk singing at junior school, but that one never came up, and I have come across a lot since, but again, not that one.

I learnt Mairze dotes and dozy dotes as a child. Not sure when it was written, but may have been a wartime nonsense song.

We used to sing the oats and beans and barley one at primary school in Oxfordshire. It had actions.

I wonder if the lyrics came from early crop rotation stuff.
Mistress Rose

Could well have don Sean. A lot of traditional songs have a theme which follows the growing or making of something.

We did one at school that was "oats and wheat and barley grow" but I can't remember any more than that.
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