Farmer's Boy song has roots in Cheshire

MANY will have heard the song "Farmer’s 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 local farms.
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 Whitehead’s 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 Farmer’s Boy.

The sun had set behind on hill
Across the dreary moor,
When weary and lame, a boy there came
Up to the farmer’s door,
"Can you tell to me wherever I be
One that will me employ?.

A century later the story was confirmed by Whitehead’s 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. Farmer’s Boy, one of the most popular songs of the countryside, definitely came out of Cheshire!