Boy song has roots in Cheshire
MANY will have heard the song "Farmers Boy"
with its rollicking chorus, but how many realise that it was originally
penned around Cheshire?
The composer was Charles Whithead who was born in the county in
1792 and the song concerned his brother-in-law Charles Smith who,
at the age of fifteen, unsuccessfully sought employment at various
Later he did find agricultural work but he was an ambitious boy
and had a long cherished desire to be a minister. In the Cheshire
countryside he was already known as a boy preacher. He married Charles
Whiteheads sister and became Minister of the Baptist Church
at Little Leigh.
Years later Whitehead and Smith, were apparently sitting together
smoking their long
clay pipes when the Minister asked:
"How is it you have never written anything with me, Charles?"
The composer who always wrote on impulse, turned round, and gazing
out of the window, suddenly quoted the opening verse of what came
to be Farmers Boy.
The sun had set behind on hill
Across the dreary moor,
When weary and lame, a boy there came
Up to the farmers door,
"Can you tell to me wherever I be
One that will me employ?.
A century later the story was confirmed by Whiteheads grand-daughter
who related that her aunt, Naomi, had actually been present at the
time the song was written.
And so there we have it. Farmers Boy, one of the most popular
songs of the countryside, definitely came out of Cheshire!
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