The Three Butchers
was collected in 1906 by D Hammond and published in The Hammond And Gardiner Manuscript which in turn was published by Frank Purslow in his Marrow Bones
. The text was taken down in Wareham, Dorset, from Frank Stockley and the tune in Bath, Somerset from William Cousins. It derives from a 19th century broadsheet.
This is a fine, true-to-life tale of a brave man struck down in his prime by a treacherous lady who tricked him, by laying naked in the road no less, and lured him into the hands of highwaymen companions. It ended fatally for both: he was stabbed in the back by the one he was rescuing and she went to the gallows. Such is the stuff of ballads.