The Vorkhouse Boy

Cited by T. O. Mabbott, regarding “The Man That Was Used Up” 


The Vorkhouse Boy, broadside: color illustrations; approx. 25 x 16 cm, publisher H. De Marsan, c. 1864-1878. Kenneth S. Goldstein, American Song Broadsides. From the Kenneth S. Goldstein Collection, Center For Popular Music, Middle Tennessee State University. Accessed April 13, 2022.

First line: The cloth vos laid in the vorkhouse hall.; Publisher is listed at 60 Chatham St. in NYC directories for 1864-1878.; Text within hand-colored De Marsan “Ethiopian” border.; Text of song in four nine-line stanzas.; Without music.


The cloth vos laid in the vorkhouse hall,

And the great-coats hung on the vhite-vash’d vall;

The paupers all vere blithe and gay,

Keeping their Christmas holiday:

When the master cried vith a roguish leer:

You’ll all get fat on your Christmas cheer;

And one by his looks he seem’d to say:

I’ll have more soup on this Christmas day!

Oh, the poor vorkhouse boy, &c.

At length all of us to bed vos sent,

The boy vos missing, in search ve vent:

Ve sought him above, ve sought him below,

Ve sought him vith faces of grief and voe;

Ve sought him that hour, ve sought him that night,

Ve sought him in fear, and ve sought him in fright;

Vhen a young pauper cries: “I know ve shall

Get jolly vell vopt for loosing our pall.”

Oh, the poor vorkhouse boy, &c.

Ve sought in each corner, each crevice ve knew,

Ve sought down the yard, and ve sought up the flue;

Ve sought in each saucepan, each kettle and pot,

In vatter-butt look’d, but found him not.

And veeks flew on, ve vere all of us told

That somebody said he’d been burk’d and sold;

Vhen our master goes out, the parishioners vild,

Cry; “There goes the cove that burk’d the poor childl”

Oh, the poor vorkhouse boy, &c.

At length the soup-coppers repairs did need.

The coppersmith came, and there he seed

A dollop of bones lay grizzling there.

In the leg of the breeches the boy did vear.

To gain his fill the boy did stoop,

And, dreadful to tell, he vos boil’d in the soup!

And ve all of us say it, and say it with sneers:

That he vos pushed in my [sic] the overseers.

Oh, the poor vorkhouse boy, &c.