„Three merry boys, and three merry boys,
And three merry boys are we.
As ever did sing in a hempen string
Under the gallows tree.“
— John Fletcher English Jacobean playwright 1579 - 1625
Act III, scene iii. Compare: "Three merry men be we", George Peele, Old Wives' Tale, 1595. John Webster (quoted), Westward Hoe, 1607.