Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son (I)

DESCRIPTION: Tom, "the piper's son, Stole a pig and away did run." He eats the pig, he is beaten, and runs crying or roaring down the street.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1810 (Ritson)
KEYWORDS: punishment theft animal
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond)) Canada(Ont)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 509, "Tom, Tom, the piper's son" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #126, p. 105, "(Tom, Tom, the piper's son)" (1 text)
Jack, p. 217, "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son" (1 text, in the notes to "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son (II)")
Dolby, p. 149, "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son" (1 text plus a fragment of "O'er the Hills and Far Away (I)")
ADDITIONAL: F. Eileen Bleakney, "Folk-Lore from Ottawa and Vicinity" in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. XXXI, No. 120 (Apr-Jun 1918 (available online by JSTOR)), #18 p. 166 ("Tom, Tom, the piper's son") (1 text)
Joseph Ritson, Gammer Gurton's Garland (London, 1810 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 35, ("Tom Thumb the piper's son") (1 text)
Elizabeth Mary Wright, "Rustic Speech and Folk-Lore" (London, 1913), pp. 119-120, ("Tom, Tom, the baker's son") (1 text)

Roud #19621
cf. "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son (II)" (lyrics)
NOTES [212 words]: The Wright text is from Lincolnshire: "Tom, Tom, the baker's son. Stole a wig, and away he run; The wig was eat, and Tom was beat, And Tom went roaring down the street." Wright explains that "a wig (in gen. dial. use) is a kind of cake or bun, a plain wig is a bun without currants, .... The ordinary version substitutes 'pig' for 'wig', and makes Tom's father a 'piper'. It is a question for textual critics to settle, but natural sequence of idea and detail is on the side of the 'wig'-version being the original one; and it is easy to see how in a literary nursery, authority would say that the most omnivorous of small boys coud not eat a periwig, and therefore the word must be pig. This change once made, Tom's father becomes a piper for the sake of alliteration, rather than because there is any historical connexion between a piper and a pig." - BS
A textual critic generally looks for the reading which more easily could be corrupted into one of the others -- and Young Tom might have had some trouble carrying off a whole pig. A wig=bun would at least be easier of transport. So I don't think it can be absolutely settled. Indeed, some textual critics of the more radical sort might propose an emendation -- perhaps "fig" rather than either "pig" or "wig." - RBW
Last updated in version 3.3
File: OO2509

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