Category Archives: 1800’s

Petition of the Pigs in Kent

More info at a folk song a week blog – https://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/week-103-petition-of-the-pigs-in-kent/

Original text in 1809 magazine can be found here

Petition of the Pigs in Kent

Ye owners of woodlands, with all due submission
We humbly beg leave to present our petition
That you will be recall this your latest decree
Which tells us that acorns no longer are free

In Sussex and Surrey and Middlesex too
Pigs may ramble at large without much ado
So why then in Kent should pretences be found
To drive us like culprits and thieves to the pound

Since we and our fathers and others before ‘em
Have ranged in your woods with all proper decorum
No poachers are we for no game we annoy
No hares we entrap and no pheasants decoy

Contented are we if an acorn we find
Nor wish for a feast of a daintier kind
Besides we are told and perhaps not mistaken
That you and your friends love a slice of good bacon

But if of good bacon you all love a slice
If pigs are to starve, how can bacon be nice?
For these and for other wise reasons of state
We again our petition most humbly repeat

Ye owners of woodlands, with all due submission
We humbly beg leave to present our petition
That you will repeal this severest of laws
So your woods shall resound to our grunting applause

Duncan Bourne’s Land Corporation of Ireland song

Severine from The Greenhorns just sent me this ace song about the Land Corporation of Ireland by Duncan Bourne.

Bill Finney was an ancestor of Duncan’s. His son (William) was born in Ireland and for a long time he thought that the Finneys were of Irish decent. Given that Finney is also an Irish surname. However further research revealed a long standing Staffordshire branch of Finney.


The Land Corporation of Ireland arose out of the 1879 – 1882 Land War, which saw the rise of Irish Nationalism and gave us the word “boycott”. From the summer of 1879 the Land League carried out various activities aimed at preventing the forced eviction of tenants who had fallen into arrears due to recession. These activities ranged from ostracism (the boycott), protests at the sale of leases, riots and, although not officially sanctioned, assassinations. One organiser Michael Boyton advocated that land grabbers (people who took the land of evicted tenants) should be “given the pill” ie. shot. By 1882 the Land League had been suppressed and the Reform Bills of 1884 & 1885 gave voting rights to tenants as well as the promise of reduced rents, though these did not always materialise. The Land Corporation of Ireland was set up to work land that had fallen idle due to evictions but due to the Land War it was nigh on impossible to recruit from the local population and so “caretaker” farmers were recruited from England through letters sent to local parishes. Bill Finney was one such farmer.

Lyrics

I come from Wootton, Staffordshire Bill Finney is my name
And I sought employment where I could you name it, I was game
I started down the Holly Bush serving in that drovers inn
And through talking with those droving lads my travels did begin

Come all you eager labouring lads keen for some work to do
The Land Corporation of Ireland has just the job for you

I tried my luck in the Potteries towns but my efforts came to nought
So I travelled up to Middlewich and worked there with the salt
T’was there I saw a letter requesting men to farm
For the Land Corporation of Ireland and I thought, “well what’s the harm?”

Come all etc.

We’ll pay you ten to fifteen bob to work some idle land
Where used to live a family evicted out of hand
You’ll have a house and garden and a free allowance of fuel
But don’t expect a social life your reception may be cruel

Come all etc.

So I went to Tipperary away from England’s shore
And I learned about the hardship caused by the old Land War
I learned about the ‘Boycott’ and the giving of the ‘Pill’
And of the broken promises caused by the Reform Bill

Come all etc.

And so I am a caretaker on land of sorrows shame
Don’t blame me for being English sir there’s Irish in my name
My name it is Bill Finney come drink with me a while
The Land Corporation of Ireland are the ones you should revile

Come all etc.

Excellent website on the Chartists with poems and songs

Wow – this website is amazing – http://gerald-massey.org.uk/

I found it when looking for the full words of ‘Our Summons’ by Ernest Jones which took me to here – http://gerald-massey.org.uk/jones/c_poems_2.htm – he wrote most of his poetry in his own blood whilst in prison. What to say. Lost for words.

Smile In Your Sleep – song about Scottish Highland Clearances

Ewan McLennan just suggested this song ‘Smile In Your Sleep‘ to me, written by Jim McLean about the Highland Clearances.

Beautiful and achingly sad, I personally wonder if it needs another few verses, as I felt from The Cheviot The Stag and The Black Black Oil, that there were a number of defiant pockets of (mostly female) resistance to the Clearances which this song doesn’t touch on.

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby

Once our valleys were ringin
Wi sounds o our children singin
But nou sheep bleat till the evenin
An shielings stand empty an broken

We stood, wi heads bowed in prayer
While factors laid our cottages bare
The flames fired the clear mountain air
An many lay dead in the mornin

Where was our fine Highland mettle,
Our men once sae fearless in battle?
They stand, cowed, huddled like cattle
Soon tae be shipped owre the ocean

No use pleading or praying
All hope gone, no hope of staying
Hush, hush, the anchor’s a-weighing
Don’t cry in your sleep, bonnie baby

The Bold Poachers (The Oakham Poachers)

Peggy Seeger just pointed us at this old poaching ballad called The Bold Poachers or The Oakham Poachers.

If you look at this page you can see how most versions have a poacher killing a keeper but in one, the keepers kill one of the poachers… https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/theboldpoachers.html

Digging into Roy Palmer’s Ballad History Of England, the first poaching song I come across again had the keepers killing a poacher… Which makes one wonder which is the ‘correct’ version of the The Bold Poachers or The Oakham Poachers!

Whiteway Colony in the Cotswolds

whiteway colony

A group of socialists bought 41 acres of land in the Cotswolds in 1898 and then burnt the deeds… Pretty radical stuff and one of the only ones still keeping many of its ideals alive today, largely as they have no choice!

We’d like to visit Whiteway Colony very much indeed – if anyone knows someone who lives there please do give them a nudge 😉

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiteway_Colony

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/3310858/What-a-carry-on-in-the-Cotswolds.html

Michael Perelman and the Invention Of Capitalism

michaelPerelmanSome interesting brain food here which resonates with much else of what I have read:

“Perelman outlines the many different policies through which peasants were forced off the land—from the enactment of so-called Game Laws that prohibited peasants from hunting, to the destruction of the peasant productivity by fencing the commons into smaller lots—but by far the most interesting parts of the book are where you get to read Adam Smith’s proto-capitalist colleagues complaining and whining about how peasants are too independent and comfortable to be properly exploited, and trying to figure out how to force them to accept a life of wage slavery.”
http://www.filmsforaction.org/news/recovered_economic_history_everyone_but_an_idiot_knows_that_the_lower_classes_must_be_kept_poor_or_they_will_never_be_industrious/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Perelman
https://is.vsfs.cz/el/6410/leto2013/BA_ETD/um/3968033/The_Invention_of_Capitalism.pdf

A History Of Community Asset Ownership by Steve Wyler

A-History-of-Community-Asset-Ownership_small Steve Wyler-1

A History Of Community Asset Ownership
By Steve Wyler

When my friend Sophie first told me about this book she said ‘Someone has written a book of the show!’

This is a brilliant overview of the last thousand years and what it lacks in a catchy title, it makes up for in compelling prose.

The book can be downloaded free from here as a pdf – http://locality.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/A-History-of-Community-Asset-Ownership_small.pdf or ordered from Locality – http://locality.org.uk/contact/

The Mask Of Anarchy by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The Masque of Anarchy was Shelley’s response to the Peterloo massacre at St Peter’s Fields, Manchester, where 18 died and hundreds were injured, after Hussars charged into a rally for parliamentary reform. Written in Italy in 1819, the poem was not published until 1832, ten years after Shelley’s death.

Here are some selected verses: (from http://www.peterloomassacre.org/shelley.html)

“Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold.

Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free.

Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses’ heels.

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many – they are few.”

Here is the full text –

As I lay asleep in Italy
There came a voice from over the Sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.

I met Murder on the way—
He had a mask like Castlereagh—
Very smooth he looked, yet grim ;
Seven blood-hounds followed him :

All were fat ; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed them human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.

Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Lord Eldon, an ermined gown ;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.

Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.

And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, and spies.

Last came Anarchy : he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood ;
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.

And he wore a kingly crown ;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone ;
On his brow this mark I saw—
‘I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW!’

With a pace stately and fast,
Over English land he passed,
Trampling to a mire of blood
The adoring multitude.

And with a mighty troop around
With their trampling shook the ground,
Waving each a bloody sword,
For the service of their Lord.

And with glorious triumph they
Rode through England proud and gay,
Drunk as with intoxication
Of the wine of desolation.

O’er fields and towns, from sea to sea,
Passed the Pageant swift and free,
Tearing up, and trampling down ;
Till they came to London town.

And each dweller, panic-stricken,
Felt his heart with terror sicken
Hearing the tempestuous cry
Of the triumph of Anarchy.

For from pomp to meet him came,
Clothed in arms like blood and flame,
The hired murderers, who did sing
‘Thou art God, and Law, and King.

‘We have waited weak and lone
For thy coming, Mighty One!
Our purses are empty, our swords are cold,
Give us glory, and blood, and gold.’

Lawyers and priests a motley crowd,
To the earth their pale brows bowed ;
Like a bad prayer not over loud,
Whispering—‘Thou art Law and God.’—

Then all cried with one accord,
‘Thou art King, and God, and Lord ;
Anarchy, to thee we bow,
Be thy name made holy now!’

And Anarchy, the Skeleton,
Bowed and grinned to every one,
As well as if his education
Had cost ten millions to the nation.

For he knew the Palaces
Of our Kings were rightly his ;
His the sceptre, crown, and globe,
And the gold-inwoven robe.

So he sent his slaves before
To seize upon the Bank and Tower,
And was proceeding with intent
To meet his pensioned Parliament

When one fled past, a maniac maid,
And her name was Hope, she said :
But she looked more like Despair,
And she cried out in the air :

‘My father Time is weak and gray
With waiting for a better day ;
See how idiot-like he stands,
Fumbling with his palsied hands!

‘He has had child after child,
And the dust of death is piled
Over every one but me—
Misery, oh, Misery!’

Then she lay down in the street,
Right before the horses feet,
Expecting, with a patient eye,
Murder, Fraud, and Anarchy.

When between her and her foes
A mist, a light, an image rose.
Small at first, and weak, and frail
Like the vapour of a vale :

Till as clouds grow on the blast,
Like tower-crowned giants striding fast,
And glare with lightnings as they fly,
And speak in thunder to the sky.

It grew—a Shape arrayed in mail
Brighter than the viper’s scale,
And upborne on wings whose grain
Was as the light of sunny rain.

On its helm, seen far away,
A planet, like the Morning’s, lay ;
And those plumes its light rained through
Like a shower of crimson dew.

With step as soft as wind it passed
O’er the heads of men—so fast
That they knew the presence there,
And looked,—but all was empty air.

As flowers beneath May’s footstep waken,
As stars from Night’s loose hair are shaken,
As waves arise when loud winds call,
Thoughts sprung where’er that step did fall.

And the prostrate multitude
Looked—and ankle-deep in blood,
Hope, that maiden most serene,
Was walking with a quiet mien :

And Anarchy, the ghastly birth,
Lay dead earth upon the earth ;
The Horse of Death tameless as wind
Fled, and with his hoofs did grind
To dust the murderers thronged behind.

A rushing light of clouds and splendour,
A sense awakening and yet tender
Was heard and felt—and at its close
These words of joy and fear arose

As if their own indignant Earth
Which gave the sons of England birth
Had felt their blood upon her brow,
And shuddering with a mother’s throe

Had turned every drop of blood
By which her face had been bedewed
To an accent unwithstood,—
As if her heart cried out aloud :

‘Men of England, heirs of Glory,
Heroes of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
Hopes of her, and one another ;

‘Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number.
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
Ye are many—they are few.

‘What is Freedom?—ye can tell
That which slavery is, too well—
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.

‘’Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants’ use to dwell,

‘So that ye for them are made
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade,
With or without your own will bent
To their defence and nourishment.

‘’Tis to see your children weak
With their mothers pine and peak,
When the winter winds are bleak,—
They are dying whilst I speak.

‘’Tis to hunger for such diet
As the rich man in his riot
Casts to the fat dogs that lie
Surfeiting beneath his eye ;

‘’Tis to let the Ghost of Gold
Take from Toil a thousandfold
More than e’er its substance could
In the tyrannies of old.

‘Paper coin—that forgery
Of the title-deeds, which ye
Hold to something from the worth
Of the inheritance of Earth.

‘’Tis to be a slave in soul
And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.

‘And at length when ye complain
With a murmur weak and vain
’Tis to see the Tyrant’s crew
Ride over your wives and you—
Blood is on the grass like dew.

‘Then it is to feel revenge
Fiercely thirsting to exchange
Blood for blood—and wrong for wrong—
Do not thus when ye are strong.

‘Birds find rest, in narrow nest
When weary of their wingèd quest ;
Beasts find fare, in woody lair
When storm and snow are in the air.

‘Horses, oxen, have a home,
When from daily toil they come ;
Household dogs, when the wind roars,
Find a home within warm doors.’

‘Asses, swine, have litter spread
And with fitting food are fed ;
All things have a home but one—
Thou, Oh, Englishman, hast none !

‘This is Slavery—savage men,
Or wild beasts within a den
Would endure not as ye do—
But such ills they never knew.

‘What art thou, Freedom ? O ! could slaves
Answer from their living graves
This demand—tyrants would flee
Like a dream’s imagery :

‘Thou are not, as impostors say,
A shadow soon to pass away,
A superstition, and a name
Echoing from the cave of Fame.

‘For the labourer thou art bread,
And a comely table spread
From his daily labour come
In a neat and happy home.

‘Thou art clothes, and fire, and food
For the trampled multitude—
No—in countries that are free
Such starvation cannot be
As in England now we see.

‘To the rich thou art a check,
When his foot is on the neck
Of his victim, thou dost make
That he treads upon a snake.

‘Thou art Justice—ne’er for gold
May thy righteous laws be sold
As laws are in England—thou
Shield’st alike both high and low.

‘Thou art Wisdom—Freemen never
Dream that God will damn for ever
All who think those things untrue
Of which Priests make such ado.

‘Thou art Peace—never by thee
Would blood and treasure wasted be
As tyrants wasted them, when all
Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul.

‘What if English toil and blood
Was poured forth, even as a flood ?
It availed, Oh, Liberty.
To dim, but not extinguish thee.

‘Thou art Love—the rich have kissed
Thy feet, and like him following Christ,
Give their substance to the free
And through the rough world follow thee,

‘Or turn their wealth to arms, and make
War for thy belovèd sake
On wealth, and war, and fraud—whence they
Drew the power which is their prey.

‘Science, Poetry, and Thought
Are thy lamps ; they make the lot
Of the dwellers in a cot
So serene, they curse it not.

‘Spirit, Patience, Gentleness,
All that can adorn and bless
Art thou—let deeds, not words, express
Thine exceeding loveliness.

‘Let a great Assembly be
Of the fearless and the free
On some spot of English ground
Where the plains stretch wide around.

‘Let the blue sky overhead,
The green earth on which ye tread,
All that must eternal be
Witness the solemnity.

‘From the corners uttermost
Of the bounds of English coast ;
From every hut, village, and town
Where those who live and suffer moan
For others’ misery or their own,

‘From the workhouse and the prison
Where pale as corpses newly risen,
Women, children, young and old
Groan for pain, and weep for cold—

‘From the haunts of daily life
Where is waged the daily strife
With common wants and common cares
Which sows the human heart with tares—

‘Lastly from the palaces
Where the murmur of distress
Echoes, like the distant sound
Of a wind alive around

‘Those prison halls of wealth and fashion.
Where some few feel such compassion
For those who groan, and toil, and wail
As must make their brethren pale—

‘Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold—

‘Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free—

‘Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords,
And wide as targes let them be,
With their shade to cover ye.

‘Let the tyrants pour around
With a quick and startling sound,
Like the loosening of a sea,
Troops of armed emblazonry.

‘Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses’ heels.

‘Let the fixèd bayonet
Gleam with sharp desire to wet
Its bright point in English blood
Looking keen as one for food.

‘Let the horsemen’s scimitars
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars
Thirsting to eclipse their burning
In a sea of death and mourning.

‘Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

‘And let Panic, who outspeeds
The career of armèd steeds
Pass, a disregarded shade
Through your phalanx undismayed.

‘Let the laws of your own land,
Good or ill, between ye stand
Hand to hand, and foot to foot,
Arbiters of the dispute,

‘The old laws of England—they
Whose reverend heads with age are gray,
Children of a wiser day ;
And whose solemn voice must be
Thine own echo—Liberty !

‘On those who first should violate
Such sacred heralds in their state
Rest the blood that must ensue,
And it will not rest on you.

‘And if then the tyrants dare
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew, —
What they like, that let them do.

‘With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away.’

‘Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek.

‘Every woman in the land
Will point at them as they stand—
They will hardly dare to greet
Their acquaintance in the street.

‘And the bold, true warriors
Who have hugged Danger in wars
Will turn to those who would be free,
Ashamed of such base company.

‘And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular ;
A volcano heard afar.

‘And these words shall then become
Like Oppression’s thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain.
Heard again—again—again—

‘Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number—
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
Ye are many—they are few.’

Melvyn Bragg on John Ball and the Peasants’ Revolt

braggThis is a brilliant hour long documentary by Melvyn Bragg on John Ball and the Peasants’ Revolt – connecting it with the English Civil War, the Diggers, the Levellers, and Blake’s words which became the song ‘Jerusalem’.

If this is not left online anywhere I have a personal audio copy which I would be happy to share with you.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04d8khr/melvyn-braggs-radical-lives-1-now-is-the-time-john-ball

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/voices/voices_reading_revolt.shtml

Song On The Times

A song from 1840s

You can see an original copy of it here – http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static/images/sheets/20000/18540.gif

You working men of England, one moment now attend
While I unfold the treatment of the poor upon this land
For nowadays the factory lords have brought the labor low
And daily are contriving plans to prove our overthrow

So arouse you sons of freedom, the world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town

There’s different parts in Ireland, it’s true what I do state
There’s hundreds that are starving for they can’t get food to eat
And if they go unto the rich to ask them for relief
They bang their door all in their face as if they were a thief

So arouse you sons of freedom the world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town

Alas how altered are the times, rich men despise the poor
And pay them off without remorse quite scornful at their door
And if a man is out of work, his Parish pay is small
Enough to starve himself and wife, his children and all

So arouse you sons of freedom the world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town

So to conclude and finish these few verses I have made
I hope to see before it’s long men for their labor paid
Then we’ll rejoice with heart and voice and banish all our woes
Before we do old England must pay us what she owes

So arouse you sons of freedom the world seems upside down
They scorn the poor man as a thief in country and in town

Owning The Earth by Andro Linklater

owning the earthOwning The Earth
By Andro Linklater

I’m only a little way into this book but am already enjoying it thoroughly. Highly readable and informative.

It brings a global perspective to the story and compares what happened in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland with other European countries and those further afield.

I will update when I’ve finished it.

Three Acres And A Cow – unattributed broadside from late 1800’s

Three Acres And A Cow – unattributed broadside from late 1800’s

IMG_1101

**Please note I have changed some of the lyrics and a bit of the melody – this is fine and you are welcome to change them too – that is how music works #notsacred**

You’ve heard a lot of talk about three acres and a cow
And if they mean to give us why don’t they give it now?
For if I do not get it I may go out of my mind
There’s nothing but the land and cow will keep me satisfied

Don’t you wish you had it now, three acres and a cow!
Oh you can make good cheese and butter when you get the cow.

There’s a certain class in England that is holding fortune great
Yet they give a man a starving wage to work on their estate
The land’s been stolen from the poor and those that hold it now
They do not want to give a man three acres and a cow

D’y’ think they’ll ever want to give three acres and a cow
When they can get a man to take low wage to drive the plough
To live a man he has to work from daylight until dark
So the lord can have both bulls and cattle grazing in his park

But now there is a pretty go in all the country though
The workers they all want to know what the government will do
And what we have been looking for, I wish they’d give us now
We’re sure to live if they only give three acres and a cow

If all the land in England was divided up quite fair
There would be some for everyone to earn an honest share
Well some have thousand acre farms which they have got somehow
But I’ll be satisfied to get three acres and a cow

Lyrics in the public domain
Scan taken from ‘The Painful Plough
‘ by Roy Palmer and reprinted with permission.

The Making of the English Working Class by E.P. Thompson

eptThe Making of the English Working Class
by E.P. Thompson

Considered a definitive text for many years this book is dense, academically rigorous and utterly superb.

I needed a dictionary, wikipedia and a notebook to get myself through the first quarter but once up to speed with the authors style and concepts, it was as compelling a read as I have ever had.

This book has the advantage of being widely respected across all academic and historical fields in a manner which some of the other books I have read are not.

The Painful Plough by Roy Palmer

ppThe Painful Plough
by Roy Palmer

The full title is ‘The Painful Plough: A Portrait of the Agricultural Labourer in the Nineteenth Century from Folksongs and Ballads and Contemporary Accounts’ which pretty much does the job.

It tells the story of Joseph Arch, a farm labourer who went on to start one of the first agricultural labourers unions and eventually to become an MP.

A superb piece of work and a huge source of inspiration for the concept of the show ‘Three Acres And A Cow’.

A Ballad History of England by Roy Palmer

rp---bhA Ballad History of England
by Roy Palmer

Roy Palmer has spent much of the last thirty years hunting for ballads and using them to weave together a people’s history of England. He has mastered the art of this in a number of excellent books of which this is a great starting point.

This book is utterly superb and should be bought without hesitation. Each song has a melody and words, along with a page or two giving its historical context.

William Barnes’ The Leane

Tim Laycock read this delightful poem about enclosure written in a Dorset dialect at the Bridport show last week.

“The children will soon have no place
for to play in and if they do grow
they will have a thin mushroom face
with their bodies so sumple as dough”


The Leane.

They do zay that a travellèn chap
Have a-put in the newspeäper now,
That the bit o’ green ground on the knap
Should be all a-took in vor the plough.
He do fancy ’tis easy to show
That we can be but stunpolls at best,
Vor to leäve a green spot where a flower can grow,
Or a voot-weary walker mid rest.
Tis hedge-grubbèn, Thomas, an’ ledge-grubbèn,
Never a-done
While a sov’rèn mwore’s to be won.

The road, he do zay, is so wide
As ’tis wanted vor travellers’ wheels,
As if all that did travel did ride
An’ did never get galls on their heels.
He would leäve sich a thin strip o’ groun’,
That, if a man’s veet in his shoes
Wer a-burnèn an’ zore, why he coulden zit down
But the wheels would run over his tooes.
Vor ’tis meäke money, Thomas, an’ teäke money,
What’s zwold an’ bought
Is all that is worthy o’ thought.

Years agoo the leäne-zides did bear grass,
Vor to pull wi’ the geeses’ red bills,
That did hiss at the vo’k that did pass,
Or the bwoys that pick’d up their white quills.
But shortly, if vower or vive
Ov our goslèns do creep vrom the agg,
They must mwope in the geärden, mwore dead than alive,
In a coop, or a-tied by the lag.
Vor to catch at land, Thomas, an’ snatch at land,
Now is the plan;
Meäke money wherever you can.

The childern wull soon have noo pleäce
Vor to plaÿ in, an’ if they do grow,
They wull have a thin musheroom feäce,
Wi’ their bodies so sumple as dough.
But a man is a-meäde ov a child,
An’ his limbs do grow worksome by plaÿ;
An’ if the young child’s little body’s a-spweil’d,
Why, the man’s wull the sooner decaÿ.
But wealth is wo’th now mwore than health is wo’th;
Let it all goo,
If’t ’ull bring but a sov’rèn or two.

Vor to breed the young fox or the heäre,
We can gi’e up whole eäcres o’ ground,
But the greens be a-grudg’d, vor to rear
Our young childern up healthy an’ sound,
Why, there woont be a-left the next age
A green spot where their veet can goo free;
An’ the goocoo wull soon be committed to cage
Vor a trespass in zomebody’s tree.
Vor ’tis lockèn up, Thomas, an’ blockèn up,
Stranger or brother,
Men mussen come nigh woone another.

Woone day I went in at a geäte,
Wi’ my child, where an echo did sound,
An’ the owner come up, an’ did reäte
Me as if I would car off his ground.
But his vield an’ the grass wer a-let,
An’ the damage that he could a-took
Wer at mwost that the while I did open the geäte
I did rub roun’ the eye on the hook.
But ’tis drevèn out, Thomas, an’ hevèn out.
Trample noo grounds,
Unless you be after the hounds.

Ah! the Squiër o’ Culver-dell Hall
Wer as diff’rent as light is vrom dark,
Wi’ zome vo’k that, as evenèn did vall,
Had a-broke drough long grass in his park;
Vor he went, wi’ a smile, vor to meet
Wi’ the trespassers while they did pass,
An’ he zaid, “I do fear you’ll catch cwold in your veet,
You’ve a-walk’d drough so much o’ my grass.”
His mild words, Thomas, cut em like swords, Thomas,
Newly a-whet,
An’ went vurder wi’ them than a dreat.

The Sound Of History by Roy Palmer

sound of historyThe Sound Of History
By Roy Palmer

This is an amazing book. Not specifically about land but it has a chapter on the topic.

I cannot stress enough what a legend this man and his writings are. This is not the first book of his you should read but it is certainly one you want on your reading list.

This Land Is Our Land by Marion Shoard

marionThis Land Is Our Land
by Marion Shoard

The definitive book on land both past and present, although it has sadly not been updated since the 80’s.

It gets a bit heavy going in places but the first third, which is a history from Roman times to the present, is totally gripping and a must read for anyone interesting in land and land rights.

I had to take quite a few breaks whilst reading it as sections of it made me really angry and/or sad.