"Frog Went A-Courtin'" (Roud 16) is an English language folk song, with nany variations.
It first mentioned in Robert Wedderburn's "The Complaynt of Scotland" (1549) under the name "The Frog cam to the Myl dur", though this is in Scots rather than English.
Albert Jack in his book "Pop Goes the Weasel, The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes" (pp. 33–37, copyright 2008) states that in 1547 the Scottish Queen Consort, Mary of Guise, under attack from Henry VIII, sought to marry her daughter Princess Mary (later Mary Queen of Scots), "Mrs. Mouse" to the 3 year old French Prince Louis, the "frog".
There is also a reference in the London Company of Stationers' Register of 1580 to "A Moste Strange Weddinge of the Frogge and the Mouse." referring to another French (frog) wooing caused concern—that of the Duke of Anjou and Queen Elizabeth I in 1579. Elizabeth even nicknamed Anjou, her favorite suitor, "the frog".
There are many texts of the ballad; however the oldest known musical version is in Thomas Ravenscroft's Melismata in 1611.
Frog Went A-Courting - Wikipedia
In 1783 John Pinkerton mentions the fact that "The Frog cam to the Myl dur" is song # 17 in a book called "The Complaint of Scotland", written by Sir James Inglis and printed at St. Andrews in 1548.
Pinkerton also mentiones the song "used lately to be sung on the stage at Edinburgh".
In "The History of English Poetry (vol 4)" (1790), Thomas Warton mentions "A ballad of a moste strange weddinge of the frogge and the mouse" licensed by the stationers ro E. White in 1580.
Here's a 1824 edition of Vol IV of Warton's "The History of English Poetry".
Here's the November 21, 1580 entry of the license to Edward White of iiii (4) ballads in the Stationers' Register. One of them: "A moste Strange weddinge of the ffrogge and the movse"
It's on page 174b of the Register:
The earliest known English printing of a text with accompanying tune on this early fable is in Thomas Ravencroft’s Melismata (1611) (song # 21): The Marriage of the Frogge and the Mouse
The Marriage of the Frogge and the Mouse - 1611 Text
Here's the accompanying tune http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/ravenscroft/modern/frogge.mid
Listening to the MIDI above we hear it is not the tune we are now familiar with.
And here's the complete book on pdf: http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/ravenscroft/melismata/all.pdf
In 1719 Thomas D'Urfey published the song in his "Wit and Mirth: Pills to Purge Melancholy" (vol. 1).
In this book it's titled; "The Great Lord Frog to Lady Mouse" or "A Ditty on a high Amour at St. James's" (Set to a Comical Tune).
The original 1719 imprint can be viewed on the next link: (it's on page 14 of Vol. 1).
Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy (D'Urfey, Thomas) - IMSLP
Below is a copy of the book from a much later date.
In 2000 Anne and Ridley Enslow recorded "The Great Lord Frog to Lady Mouse"
Listening to the version above we hear this also isn't the tune we are now familiar with.
In 1783 "The Frog and the Mouse" was song # 1 in the song collection Gammer Gurton's Garland.
"The Frog and the Mouse" or "The Frog He Would A Wooing Go" was published around 1810 by N. Coverly Jr. in Boston, Massachusetts.
American Antiquarian Society - Digital Assets Archive Portal
And in 1812 "The Frog He Would A Wooing Go" was published by J. Hewitt in Boston,
Sheet Music for "A Frog He Would A Wooing Go" · Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project
The Bodleian Library has also a few broadsides that were published in the first half of the19th century.
In Frank Kidson's "Old English Country Dances" (1890) it is on page 3 as "Lord Frog and Lady Mouse" and as "The Frog and the Mouse".
In Lina Eckenstein's "Comparative Studies in Nursery Rhymes" (1906) the song is mentioned on pages 29-33. She gives one Charles Edward Horton as the writer of the ORIGINAL TUNE.
George Lyman Kittredge cited 85 different versions collected by 1922, in an article in the Jourmal Of American Folklore. Vol. 35, No. 138 (Oct. - Dec., 1922), pp. 338-399
In 1925 the song was published in Dorothy Scarborough's "On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs".
Leonidas Warren Payne Jr. wrote a paper on the song in 1926: "Some Texas versions of The Frog's Courting." The paper appeared in Rainbow in the Morning (Texas Folk-Lore Society, 1926; reprinted Folklore Associates, 1965, pp. 5-48). In it there are 20 full Texas versions, along with its brief history and comparative analysis.
You can browse through this paper on the next link:
In this paper the E-type of the songcluster with the Uhn-Huhn, or Humming, burden is the most familiar version (see Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Mike Oldfield and Bradley Kincaid versions further on in this post).
In Carl Sandburg's "American Songbag" (1927) the song is on page 143 as "Mister Frog Went A-Courting". Sandburg took the E-type version of the songcluster from L.W. Payne's 1926 papers
The first recorded version of this song-cluster seems to be:
(o) Len Spencer (1901) (The Wedding Of The Frog And The Mouse") (MONOLOGUE) ????
Recorded June 11, 1901 in Camden, New Jersey
Released on Victor A-854
Victor matrix [Pre-matrix A-]854. The wedding of the frog and the mouse / Len Spencer - Discography of American Historical Recordings
Also released on Berliner 715 (Canada)
Basic Search - The Virtual Gramophone - Library and Archives Canada
Also recorded on a Columbia Cylinder (# 31570)
COLUMBIA cylinders numerical listing discography: 31300 - 32000
(c) Unknown artists (1919) (as "The Frog He Would A-Wooing Go")
Record # 1162 of album "The Funny Froggy" (The Seventh Bubble Book)
Bubble Book Discography, Little Wonder records, Harper, Columbia, Waterson, Berlin and Snyder
In 1924 Henry Burr recorded the Funny Froggy Bubble Book version:
(c) Henry Burr (1924) (as "A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go")
Recorded June 27, 1924 in Camden, New Jersey
Released on Victor 209
Victor matrix A-30424. A frog he would a-wooing go / Henry Burr - Discography of American Historical Recordings
(c) Alice Green (=Olive Kline) (1925) (as "The Frog And The Mouse") ?????
Recorded May 29, 1925 in Camden, New Jersey
Released on Victor 19830
Victor matrix BVE-32834. The frog and the mouse / Alice Green - Discography of American Historical Recordings
(c) Buell Kazee (1927) (as "Frog Went A Courtin")
Recorded April 21, 1927 but unissued
In 1927 Buell Kazee seems to be the first one to record the (nowadays) most familiar version from Carl Sandburg's "American Songbag". It wasn't issued, but one year later a version by Bradley Kincaid was released on the Gennett/Supertone label.
(c) Bradley Kincaid (1928) (as "Froggie Went A-Courting")
Recorded February 27, 1928 in Chicago
Released on Gennett 6462 and on Supertone 9209
Bradley Kincaid - Froggie Went A-Courting / The Swapping Song (Shellac) at Discogs
In 1928 Governor Al Smith was one of the candidates for President of America in 1928.
Uncle Dave Macon re-wrote the lyrics of "Froggie Went A-Courting" trying to help Al Smith in becoming President.
(c) Uncle Dave Macon (1928) (as "Governor Al Smith")
Recorded July 26, 1928 in Chicago, IL
Released on Brunswick 263
Uncle Dave Macon And Sam McGee / Uncle Dave Macon - Comin' Round The Mountain / Governor Al Smith (Shellac) at Discogs
Sigmund Spaeth reports that one Henry Wood published a song called "Keemo Kimo" in 1854.
Keemo Kimo (1854) – Sheet Music Singer
Keemo Kimo | Library of Congress
A variant of "Froggie Went A-Courtin'" is “Sing Song Kitty (Won't You Ki-Me-O)” or “Keemo Kimo” sometimes named “Beaver Creek”.
“King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O” is a minstrel version of this branch of “Froggie” which was a big hit for Chubby Parker, recorded on Columbia 15296-D in 1928.
But already in 1919 Harry C. Browne recorded a version of "Keemo Kimo".
(c) Harry C. Browne and Peerless Quartette (1919) (as "Keemo Kimo")
Recorded November 5, 1919 in New York.
Released on Columbia A 2853
78 RPM - Harry C. Browne And Peerless Quartette - Hear Dem Bells / Keemo Kimo - Columbia - USA - A2853
Columbia matrix 78797. Keemo Kimo / Harry C. Browne ; Peerless Quartet - Discography of American Historical Recordings
Harry C. Browne And Peerless Quartette - Hear Dem Bells / Keemo Kimo (Shellac) at Discogs
https://ia600803.us.archive.org/3/items/78_keemo-kimo_harry-c-browne-peerless-quartette-sedgwick_gbia0016730b/Keemo Kimo - Harry C. Browne - Peerless Quartette.mp3
(c) Chubby Parker (1928) (as "King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O") (KEEMO KIMO version)
Recorded August 23, 1928 in New York
Released on Columbia 15296-D
"Chubby" Parker And His Old-Time Banjo* - Down On The Farm / King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O (Shellac) at Discogs
(c) Prairie Ramblers (1940) (as "Beaver Creek") (KEEMO KIMO version)
The Prairie Ramblers - Beaver Creek / Good Old Fashioned Hoedown (Shellac) at Discogs
(c) Texas Jim Lewis (1941) (as "Beaver Creek") (KEEMO KIMO version)
Texas Jim Lewis And His Lone Star Cowboys - The Covered Wagon Rolled Right Along / Beaver Creek (Shellac) at Discogs
(c) Anna and Julietta Canova (1928) (as "The Frog Went A-Courtin'")
Fiddle – Pete Canova / Guitar – Zeke Canova
Recorded September 10, 1928 in New York
Released on Brunswick 264
Julietta Canova / Anna* And Julietta Canova - I Wish I Was A Single Gal Again / The Frog Went A-Courtin' (Shellac) at Discogs
(c) Woody Guthrie (1944) (as "Froggie Went A-Courtin"")
Recorded April 25, 1944 for Moses Asch
Matrix MA 110 (Previously unissued, from analog reel 558)
Finally released on "Buffalo Skinners - The Asch Recordings Vol.4"
(c) Burl Ives (1949)
Burl Ives - Mr. Froggie Went A-Courtin' / The Worried Man Blues (Shellac) at Discogs
In 1955 John Langstaff wrote a book about the story of the Frog who went a-courtin, which won a Caldecott Medal when it was first published in 1955;
Revels :: Frog Went A-Courtin'
Frog Went A-Courtin' (book) - Wikipedia
Langstaff also recorded this "Frog who went a-courtin" version in 1968.
Look inside the book and hear the song here:
Langstaff has also recorded 2 other versions of the song (at the Abbey Road Studios in London with George Martin as producer)
(c) John Langstaff (1950's) (as "The Frog In The Well")
Revels :: The Lark in the Morn
(c) John Langstaff (1950's) (as "The Frog and the Mouse") (KEEMO KIMO version)
Revels :: The Lark in the Morn
(c) Pete Seeger (1955) (as "Frog Went A-Courting")
Pete Seeger - Birds Beasts Bugs And Little Fishes (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
(c) Uncle Pecos (1955) (as "Crambone")
Uncle Pecos (who is Jerry's uncle) sings this song in the Tom & Jerry Cartoon "Pecos Pest"
Pecos Pest - Wikipedia
(c) Peggy Seeger (1957) (as "Froggie Went A-Courtin'")
Ewan MacColl And Peggy Seeger - Matching Songs Of The British Isles And America (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
(c) Jimmie Rodgers (1958) (as "Froggy Went A-Courtin'")
Jimmie Rodgers (2) With Hugo Peretti & His Orch.* - Froggy Went A-Courtin' / Liza (Vinyl) at Discogs
(c) The Brothers Four (1961) (as "Frogg") (# 32 in US Charts) ("Frog Went A-Courting" version)
(c) Odetta (1964) (as "Froggy Went A-Courtin'")
Odetta - Odetta Sings Of Many Things (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
In 1967 Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl recorded 4 versions of this songcluster for a 10 album project of Traditional English and Scottish Ballads with older and newer versions and forms based on legendary volumes compiled by Francis J. Child
(c) Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger (1967) as "The Puddy in the Well" (Scots), as "Froggie Went A-Courting" (American), as "King Kong Kitchie" (American) and as "There Was An Old Frog"
Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger - The Long Harvest, Vol. 8
You can listen to the 4 versions on the next link. They are songs # 11,12,13 and 14 on album # 8
The Long Harvest traditional English and Scottish ballads sung by Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl
But actually this song might well be written for Kermit the Frog !!!
Kermit the Frog tells the story of his doomed love affair with Miss Mousey, singing "Froggy Went A Courtin'" in The Muppets Valentine Show aired on ABC on January 30, 1974.
(c) Mike Oldfield (1974) (as "Froggy Went A-Courting")
Mike Oldfield - Froggy Went A-Courting (Vinyl) at Discogs
(c) Claude Francois (1976) (as "Monsieur Crapaud")
Claude François - Pour Les Jeunes De 8 à 88 Ans (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
(c) Bob Dylan (1992) (as "Froggie Went A-Courtin'")
Good as I Been to You - Wikipedia
(c) Bruce Springsteen (2006) (as "Froggie Went A-Courtin'")
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions - Wikipedia
More versions here:
Cover versions of Frog Went A-Courting written by [Traditional] | SecondHandSongs
The Originals © by Arnold Rypens - FROG WENT A COURTIN'
Folk Music Index - Frei to Fz
Frog Went A-Courting
mudcat.org: froggie went a courtin
Bluegrass Messengers - Froggie Went A-Courtin'- Version 10 (Canadian)
FROG AND THE MOUSE, THE