Category Archives: Songs

(1872) My master and I

I used to sing this song in shows a lot but it seems to have been nudged out. I’ve yet to hear anyone else sing or record it. Might pop that on the to do list… Taken from Roy Palmer’s excellent The Painful Plough.

Says the Master to me is it true as I’m told,
Your names on the book of the Union enrolled,
I can never allow that a workman of mine,
With wicked Disturbers of Peace should combine.

Said I to the Master it’s perfectly true,
That I’m in the Union I’ll stick to it too,
And if between Union and you I must choose,
I’ve plenty to win and little to lose.

For twenty years mostly my bread has been dry,
And to butter it now I will certainly try,
And though I respect you remember I pray,
No Master in England shall trample on me.

Says the Master to me in a word or two more,
We never have quarreled on matters before,
If you stick to the Union ‘ere long I’ll be bound,
You’ll come and ask me for more wages all round.

Now I cannot afford more than two bob a day,
And look at the taxes and rent that I pay,
And the crops are so injured by game as you see,
If it’s hard for you it’s hard for me.

Says I to the Master I do not see how,
Any need has arisen for quarreling now,
And though likely enough we shall ask for more wage,
I promise you we shall be first in a rage.

(1985) The Battle of the Beanfield by The Levellers

I loved this song as a teenager but knew nothing about the subject matter, nor would I have known where to find any in my Daily Telegraph reading Thatcher-lite household and community. But now we have wikipedia and easy to find interviews with the band about writing it.

I thought i heard someone calling me
I’ve seen the pictures on TV
And i made up my mind that i’d go and see
With my own eyes

It didn’t take too long to hitch a ride
With a guy going south to start a new life
Past the place where my friend died
Two years ago

Down the 303 at the end of the road
Flashing lights – exclusion zones
And it made me think it’s not just the stones
That they’re guarding

Hey hey, can’t you see
There’s nothing here that you could call free
They’re getting their kicks
Laughing at you and me

As the sun rose on the beanfield
They came like wolf on the fold
And no they didn’t give a warning
They took their bloody toll

I see a pregnant woman
Lying in blood of her own
I see her children crying
As the police tore apart her home
And no they didn’t need a reason
It’s what your votes condone
It seems they were committing treason
By trying to live on the road

(1915*) Mrs Barbours’ Army by Alistair Hulett

If I could marry a song it would probably be this one. Alistair Hulett on fine form writing about Mary Barbour and the Glasgow Women’s rent strike at the start of the 1914-1918 war.

Mrs Barbour’s Army by Alistair Hulett

In the tenements o’ Glesga in the year one nine one five
It was one lang bloody struggle tae keep ourselves alive
We were coontin’ oot the coppers tae buy wor scraps o’ food
When the landlords put the rent up just because they could
A’ the factories were hummin’, there was overtime galore
But wages they were driven doon tae subsidise the war
Oot came Mrs. Barbour from her wee bit single end
She said, I’ll organise the lassies if I cannae rouse the men

‘Cos I’m from Govan and your from Partick
This one here’s from Bridge o’ Weir and they’re from Kinning Park
There’s some that’s prods, there’s some that’s catholic
But we’re Mrs. Barbour’s Army and we’re here tae dae the wark

Mrs. Barbour made a poster sayin’, We’ll no’ pay higher rent
Then she chapped on every door of every Govan tenement
She said, Pit this in the windae when you hear me bang the drum
We’ll run oot an’ chase the factor a’ the way tae kingdom come
When the poor wee soul cam roon’ he was battered black and blue
By a regiment in pinnies that knew just what tae do
Mrs. Barbour organised the gaitherin’ o’ the clans
And they burst oot o’ the steamie armed wi’ pots an’ fryin’ pans

Mrs. Barbour’s Army spread through Glesga like the plague
The maisters got the message and the message wisnae vague
While our menfolk fight the Kaiser we’ll stay hame & fight the war
Against all the greedy bastards who keep grindin’ doon the poor
If ye want tae stop conscription stand and fight the profiteers
Bring the hale big bloody sandpit crashin’ doon aroon’ their ears
We’ll no’ starve, said Mrs. Barbour, While the men we care for ain
Are marchin aff to hae their heart’s blood washed like water doon a drain

Well it didnae take the government that lang tae realise
If you crack doon on the leaders then the rest will compromise
They arrested Mrs. Barbour and they clapped her in the jile
Then they made an awfy big mistake, they let her oot on bail
She called men out the factories on the Clyde and on the Cart
They marched up tae the courthoose sayin’, We’ll tear the place apart
Mrs. Barbour’s Army brought the maisters tae their knees
Wi’ a regiment in pinnies backed by one in dungarees

(1649) The Diggers’ Song

We seldom sing this in the show, opting to go for the Leon Rosselson song as it is a bit more of a romp. Lady Maisery’s version is a favourite. Roy Palmer has the full and original lyrics in A Ballad History Of England, which I’ve also included a photo of below as I’m feeling a little too lazy to type them up, sorry.

You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now,
You noble Diggers all, stand up now,
The waste land to maintain, seeing Cavaliers by name
Your digging do disdain and your persons all defame
Stand up now, Diggers all.

Your houses they pull down, stand up now, stand up now,
Your houses they pull down, stand up now.
Your houses they pull down to fright poor men in town,
But the gentry must come down and the poor shall wear the crown.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

With spades and hoes and ploughs, stand up now, stand up now,
With spades and hoes and ploughs, stand up now.
Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold
To kill you if they could and rights from you withhold.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

Their self-will is their law, stand up now, stand up now,
Their self-will is their law, stand up now.
Since tyranny came in they count it now no sin
To make a gaol a gin and to serve poor men therein.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The gentry are all round, stand up now, stand up now,
The gentry are all round, stand up now.
The gentry are all round, on each side they are found,
Their wisdom’s so profound to cheat us of the ground.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now, stand up now,
The lawyers they conjoin, stand up now,
To arrest you they advise, such fury they devise,
But the devil in them lies, and hath blinded both their eyes.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The clergy they come in, stand up now, stand up now,
The clergy they come in, stand up now.
The clergy they come in and say it is a sin
That we should now begin our freedom for to win.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

‘Gainst lawyers and ‘gainst priests, stand up now, stand up now,
‘Gainst lawyers and ‘gainst Priests, stand up now.
For tyrants are they both even flat against their oath,
To grant us they are loath free meat and drink and cloth.
Stand up now, Diggers all.

The club is all their law, stand up now, stand up now,
The club is all their law, stand up now.
The club is all their law to keep poor folk in awe,
That they no vision saw to maintain such a law.
Glory now, Diggers all.

(1100s) Robin Hood ballads as sung by Wallace House

It’s fair to say that Professor Wallace House was probably a bit of a dude. An American who perfected the art of many regional English accents so he could sing his favourite folk songs authetically.

You can hear the full record of him singing Robin Hood ballads on youtube and other places – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kyO-qNn8xjStKmVXP2-LNkvd4P8GEsmdA

We adapted our version of ‘Robin Hood and the Three Squires’ from this record:

As Robin Hood ranged the green woods all round, all round the woods ranged he
He saw a young lady in very deep grief, weeping against an oak tree weeping against an oak tree

O why weepest thou, my dear lady? What trouble’s befallen thee?
Well I have three brothers in Nottingham jail, this day all hanged must be
this day all hanged must be

O what have they done , my dear lady, to pay such a costly fee?
Why they have killed three of the King’s fallow deer their children and wives to feed

Take courage, take courage, says bold Robin Hood, oh weep not against the oak tree,
And I will away to Nottingham fair, the High Sheriff for to see

Then Robin Hood hastened to Nottingham town, to Nottingham town went he
And there with the high master Sheriff he met and likewise the squires all three

One favour one favour I have to beg. One favour to beg of thee
That thou wilt reprieve these three young squires, this day and set them free

O no, o no, the high Sheriff says, their lives are forfeit to me,
For they have killed three of the King’s fallow deer and this day all hanged must be

One favour more I have to beg. One favour more of thee
That I may blow thrice on my old bugle horn that their spirits to heaven may flee

O granted, o granted, the High Sheriff said. O granted O granted said he
Thou mayest blow thrice on thine old bugle horn that their spirits to heaven may flee

Then Robin Hood climbed the gallows so high and blew both loud and shrill
Three hundred and ten of bold Robin Hood’s men came marching across the green hill

O whose men are these? The High Sheriff asks. And Robin Hood answered with glee,
They’re all of them mine and they’re none of them thine and they’ve come for the squires all three

O take them, O take them, the High Sheriff said. I’ll have no quarrel with thee,
For there’s not a man in fair Nottingham that can do the like of thee.

(1814*) Dùthaich Mhic Aoidh by Ewan Robertson

Mo mhallachd aig na caoraich mhòr
My curse upon the great sheep
Càit a bheil clann nan daoine còir
Where now are the children of the kindly folk
Dhealaich rium nuair bha mi òg
Who parted from me when I was young
Mus robh Dùthaich ‘IcAoidh na fàsach?
Before Sutherland became a desert?

Tha trì fichead bliadhna ‘s a trì
It has been sixty-three years
On dh’fhàg mi Dùthaich ‘IcAoidh
Since I left Sutherland
Cait bheil gillean òg mo chrìdh’
Where are all my beloved young men
‘S na nìonagan cho bòidheach?
And all the girls that were so pretty?

Shellar, tha thu nist nad uaigh
Sellar, you are in your grave
Gaoir nam bantrach na do chluais
The wailing of your widows in your ears
Am milleadh rinn thu air an t-sluagh
The destruction you wrought upon the people
Ron uiridh ‘n d’ fhuair thu d’ leòr dheth?
Up until last year, have you had your fill of it?

Chiad Dhiùc Chataibh, led chuid foill
First Duke of Sutherland, with your deceit
‘S led chuid càirdeis do na Goill
And your consorting with the Lowlanders
Gum b’ ann an Iutharn’ bha do thoill
You deserve to be in Hell
Gum b’ fheàrr Iùdas làmh rium
I’d rather consort with Judas

Bhan-Diùc Chataibh, bheil thu ad dhìth
Duchess of Sutherland, where are you now?
Càit a bheil do ghùnan sìod?
Where are your silk gowns?
An do chùm iad thu bhon oillt ‘s bhon strì
Did they save you from the hatred and fury
Tha an diugh am measg nan clàraibh?

Which today permeates the press?

Mo mhallachd aig na caoraich mhòr
My curse upon the great sheep
Càit a bheil clann nan daoine còir
Where now are the children of the kindly folk
Dhealaich rium nuair bha mi òg
Who parted from me when I was young
Mus robh Dùthaich ‘IcAoidh na fàsach?

(1960) Freedom Come All Ye by Hamish Henderson

I was told about Hamish Henderson a few weeks ago and just spent a delightful hour making friends with his best known song ‘Freedom Come All Ye’.

There have been a few translations into English but I didn’t really like any of them so I’ve written my own, building on unattributed previous efforts. It’s such a shame that ‘down’ and ‘bloom’, and ‘more’ and ‘bare’ don’t rhyme in my southern English accent!

Hamish Henderson – Freedom Come All Ye

Original scots:

Roch the wind in the clear day’s dawin
Blaws the cloods heilster-gowdie owre the bay
But there’s mair nor a roch wind blawin
Thro the Great Glen o the warld the day

It’s a thocht that wad gar oor rottans
Aa thae rogues that gang gallus fresh an gay
Tak the road an seek ither loanins
Wi thair ill-ploys tae sport an play

Nae mair will our bonnie callants
Merch tae war when oor braggarts crousely craw
Nor wee weans frae pitheid an clachan
Mourn the ships sailin doun the Broomielaw

Broken faimlies in lands we’ve hairriet
Will curse ‘Scotlan the Brave’ nae mair, nae mair
Black an white ane-til-ither mairriet
Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare

Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom
Never heed whit the houdies croak for Doom
In yer hoos aa the bairns o Adam
Will find breid, barley-bree an paintit rooms

When Maclean meets wi’s friens in Springburn
Aa thae roses an geans will turn tae blume
An the black lad frae yont Nyanga
Dings the fell gallows o the burghers doun.

Robin’s English translation

Rough the wind in the clear day’s dawning
Blows the clouds topsy turvy about the bay,
But there’s more than a rough wind blowing
Through the great glen of the world today.

It’s a thought that will make our tyrants
(Rogues who fancy themselves so fine and gay)
Take the road, and seek other pastures
For their ill ploys to sport and play

No more will our bonnie callants
March to war when our braggarts crousely craw,
Nor wee ones from pit-head and hamlet
Mourn the ships sailin’ down the Broomielaw.

Broken families in lands we’ve harried,
Will curse our names no more, no more;
Black and white, hand in hand together,
Will drive the tyrants from every shore

So come all ye at home with Freedom,
Never heed the crooked hoodies croak for doom.
In your house all the bairns of Adam
Can find bread, barley-bree and painted room.

When MacLean meets with friends in Springburn
Sweet the flowers will all bloom that day for thee
And a black boy from old Nyanga
Will break his chains and know liberty

(1780) Die Gedanken Sind Frei

This is a lovely old Germany song which may be super old, but as ever, no one really knows… Here is what wikipedia has to say, and below is Pete Seeger’s adaptation into English. Note that these words are slightly different to the version embedded above. You can hear another version here but for some reason it will not embed outside of YouTube.

Die gedanken sind frei, my thoughts freely flower
Die gedanken sind frei, my thoughts give me power
No scholar can map them, no hunter can trap them
No man can deny, die gedanken sind frei

I think as I please and this gives me pleasure
My conscience decrees, this right I must treasure
My thoughts will not cater to duke or dictator
No man can deny – die gedanken sind frei

Tyrants can take me and throw me in prison
My thoughts will burst forth like blossoms in season
Foundations may crumble and structures may tumble
But free men shall cry – die gedanken sind frei

Original German lyrics (with translation below)

Die Gedanken sind frei, wer kann sie erraten,
Sie fliegen vorbei wie nächtliche Schatten.
Kein Mensch kann sie wissen, kein Jäger sie schießen
Mit Pulver und Blei: Die Gedanken sind frei!

Ich denke was ich will und was mich beglücket,
Doch alles in der Still’, und wie es sich schicket.
Mein Wunsch und Begehren kann niemand verwehren,
Es bleibet dabei: Die Gedanken sind frei!

Und sperrt man mich ein im finsteren Kerker,
Das alles sind rein vergebliche Werke.
Denn meine Gedanken zerreißen die Schranken
Und Mauern entzwei: Die Gedanken sind frei!

Drum will ich auf immer den Sorgen entsagen
Und will mich auch nimmer mit Grillen mehr plagen.
Man kann ja im Herzen stets lachen und scherzen
Und denken dabei: Die Gedanken sind frei!

Ich liebe den Wein, mein Mädchen vor allen,
Sie tut mir allein am besten gefallen.
Ich sitz nicht alleine bei meinem Glas Weine,
Mein Mädchen dabei: Die Gedanken sind frei!

Thoughts are free, who can guess them?
They fly by like nocturnal shadows.
No person can know them, no hunter can shoot them
With powder and lead: Thoughts are free!

I think what I want, and what delights me,
Still always reticent, and as it is suitable.
My wish and desire, no one can deny me
And so it will always be: Thoughts are free!

And if I am thrown into the darkest dungeon,
All these are futile works,
Because my thoughts tear all gates
And walls apart: Thoughts are free!

So I will renounce my sorrows forever,
And never again will torture myself with whimsies.
In one’s heart, one can always laugh and joke
And think at the same time: Thoughts are free!

I love wine, and my girl even more,
Only her I like best of all.
I’m not alone with my glass of wine,
My girl is with me: Thoughts are free!

(1846) The Blackstone-Edge Song by Ernest Jones

Blackstone Edge is the site of a famous Chartist gathering where Ernest Jones addressed 30,000 people on 2nd August 1846 – every year people still gather here to sing this song (and a few others!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86orh7GOLcs – you can find more about this annual gathering here – http://blackstoneedgegathering.org.uk/?page_id=12

To the tune of ‘Battle of Hohenlinden’ –

O’er plains and cities far away,
All lorn and lost the morning lay,
When sunk the sun at break of day,
In smoke of mill and factory.

But waved the wind on Blackstone height
A standard of the broad sunlight,
And sung, that morn, with trumpet might,
A sounding song of Liberty.

And grew the glorious music higher,
When pouring with his heart on fire,
Old Yorkshire came, with Lancashire,
And all its noblest chivalry.

The men, who give,—not those, who take;
The hands, that bless,—yet hearts that break;
Those toilers for their foemen’s sake;
Our England’s true nobility!

So brave a host hath never met,
For truth shall be their bayonet,
Whose bloodless thrusts shall scatter yet
The force of false finality!

Though hunger stamped each forehead spare,
And eyes were dim with factory glare,
Loud swelled the nation’s battle prayer,
Of—death to class monopoly!

Then every eye grew keen and bright,
And every pulse was dancing light,
For every heart had felt its might
The might of labour’s chivalry.

And up to Heaven the descant ran,
With no cold roof ‘twixt God and man,
To dash back from its frowning span,
A church prayer’s listless blasphemy.

How distant cities quaked to hear,
When rolled from that high hill the cheer,
Of—Hope to slaves! to tyrants fear!
And God and man for liberty!

(2019) Sing ORFC

We’ve just come back from a delightful Oxford Real Farming Conference which is always a good way to start the year.

We hosted a singers circle of songs about land and farming, and Robin and Roo penned lyrics for a song that Darla Eno performed closing the conference.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Sing ORFC
by Robin Grey and Roo Bramley
(to the tune of Sing Ovy Sing Ivy)

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Our Ruth and Colin had an idea (sing ovy, sing ivy)
To gather good folk from far and from near (sing holly go whistling ivy)

A place for enlightened ideas to grow
And host this whilst they schemed up the road

A few years did pass, the gathering grown
At Oxford Town Hall we found a new home

The answers here, new wisdom and old
A future for farming, our visions are bold

Good food produced with healthy soil
Fair wages paid to all those who toil

A seasonal harvest, the fat of the land
Godspeed to the plough and the watchful hand

In partnership with worms and with bees
Flourishing herds in pastures of green

The ministers and the media come
To find out about the things we have done

So here’s to the future in uncertain times
Let’s nurture the land with our children in mind

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

(cc) This work is reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

(1976*) From Little Things Big Things Grow by Paul Kelly

A friend just emailed me this track about indigenous Australian land rights in the 1960s and 70s.

You can read about the 1966 Gurindji strike and the resulting 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights Act whilst listening to the song…

Gather round people ill tell you a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiari
Were opposite men on opposite sides

Vestey was fat with money and muscle
Beef was his business, broad was his door
Vincent was lean and spoke very little
He had no bank balance, hard dirt was his floor

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Gurindji were working for nothing but rations
Where once they had gathered the wealth of the land
Daily the pressure got tighter and tighter
Gurindju decided they must make a stand

They picked up their swags and started off walking
At Wattie Creek they sat themselves down
Now it don’t sound like much but it sure got tongues talking
Back at the homestead and then in the town

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Vestey man said I’ll double your wages
Eighteen quid a week you’ll have in your hand
Vincent said uhuh we’re not talking about wages
We’re sitting right here till we get our land
Vestey man roared and Vestey man thundered
You don’t stand the chance of a cinder in snow
Vince said if we fall others are rising

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiari boarded an aeroplane
Landed in Sydney, big city of lights
And daily he went round softly speaking his story
To all kinds of men from all walks of life

And Vincent sat down with big politicians
This affair they told him is a matter of state
Let us sort it out, your people are hungry
Vincent said no thanks, we know how to wait

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiari returned in an aeroplane
Back to his country once more to sit down
And he told his people let the stars keep on turning
We have friends in the south, in the cities and towns

Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting
Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land
And he came with lawyers and he came with great ceremony
And through Vincent’s fingers poured a handful of sand

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

That was the story of Vincent Lingiari
But this is the story of something much more
How power and privilege can not move a people
Who know where they stand and stand in the law

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

(2017) The Ballad Of The Green Backyard

The Green Backyard in Peterborough have just signed a 12 year lease, winning an amazing victory saving land from some dubious business people and a council which has some amazing people in it …and others with more questionable motives. Read about it in the Peterborough Telegraph:

http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/environment/we-are-naturally-delighted-future-secured-for-peterborough-s-the-green-backyard-after-signing-new-12-year-lease-1-8181733

The Ballad of the Green Backyard

In twenty zero eight, two enterprising souls
Set to work to realise their very worthy goals
They met allies and met baddies, now listen as i tell
A tale of Peterborough’s finest and some pond scum straight from hell

There’s pair of Antonelli’s, both grafters through and through
Give them tools and wellies… there is nothing they can’t do
I sure want them on my team when we build the barricades
As we fight the fight for all that’s right with rascals and comrades

Three cheers for the green backyard, ’tis a glorious hour for people power

On two acres of good land that never knew concrete
They set to work creating a paradise complete with
Veg and flowers and people, and ponds and compost loos
But a few in power (with faces sour) had some other views

In twenty and eleven, the council battle began
Machen and Kneally, they worked an evil plan
And we mustn’t forgot Cereste, they don’t get more corrupt
Someone should him soon arrestie, cos he’s such an evil fuck ….refrain

But in our growers’ corner we’ve Gillian Beasly who was
A very early ally and the council chief exec too!
And props to Jay and Allan, more people joined the team
Now the scene is set, the players met, all captured in one tune

We mustn’t forget ‘Metal’, who invite arty sorts
And let them loose around here, to sow creative thoughts
Like ‘if this were to be lost’ and ‘this land is our land’
And ‘people before profit when when we all together stand’ ….refrain

‘For sale’ the sign was raised, this was a big mistake
Gave our growers marching orders, even set a date
But the town and country planning act, a couple of VIPs
Plus a tonne of people power brought the blighters to their knees

so to conclude my story, there’s still much work to do
but this is quite a victory, so credit where its due
and i hope our children’s children can be nurtured by this land
and people far from peterborah will know of this fine stand ….refrain

Traditional Ballad index at California State University

Someone shared this on social media yesterday and I just want to bookmark it here quickly as it looks like a gold mine.

http://fresnostate.edu/folklore/BalladIndexArticles.html

I’m not sure yet how relevant it is to the current show but if we end up working with our Scottish and Irish friends, this looks like a good place to start exploring due to the way it is indexed.

The parent part of the site also has lots of interesting stuff on it. What I love about this so much is that it is still in super old HTML style which means it is so much easier to navigate and search than all this fancy, flashing, fancy pants and usually pointless web design which is currently the fashion!

http://fresnostate.edu/folklore/

 

(1830) Eight shillings a week

Eight shillings a week

This dates from the winter of 1830, when starving farm-workers in the Southern Counties riotously demonstrated for a basic wage of a half a crown a day. They committed a breach of the peace but otherwise harmed no one, yet after the demonstrations three of them were hanged and over four hundred were transported. At that time a loaf of bread cost a shilling.

Come all you bold Britons where’re you may be,
I pray give attention and listen to me,
There once was good times but they’re gone by complete,
For a poor man now lives on eight shillings a week.

Such times in old England there never was seen,
As the present ones now but much better have been,
A poor man’s condemned and looked on as a thief.
And compelled to work hard on eight shillings a week.

Our venerable fathers remember the year,
When a man earned thee shillings a day and his beer,
He then could live well, keep his family all neat,
But now he must work for eight shillings a week

The nobs of old England of shameful renown,
Are striving to crush a poor man to the ground,
They’ll beat down his wages and starve him complete
And make him work hard for eight shillings a week.

A poor man to labour believe me ‘tis so,
To maintain his family is willing to go,
Either hedging or ditching, to plough or to reap,
But how does he live on eight shillings a week?

So now to conclude and finish my song,
May the times be much better before too long,
May each labouring man be able to keep,
His children and wife on twelve shillings a week.

(1830) Owslebury lads

Lovely track about the Swing Riots

In 1830, on November the 23rd, there was a riot in Owslebury. This was part of the wave of discontent among agricultural workers which had spread across southern England and expressed itself as the Swing Riots. A large mob formed and moved from farm to farm demanding money and threatening to destroy agricultural machinery. At Rosehill they assaulted Lord Northesk’s steward, Moses Stanbrook, wrecked a winnowing machine, and extorted £5. John Boyes, a local farmer, accompanied the mob demanding that farmers and landlords sign an undertaking which read “We, the undersigned, are willing to give 2s. per day to our married labourers, and 9s. per week to single men, in consideration of having our rent and tithes abated in proportion”. At Marwell Hall the lady of the house, Mrs. Alice Long, gave the mob £5 and signed John’s document. Eventually the mob retreated to Owslebury Down. Nine people had signed John Boyes’ document.

The rioters were tried in Winchester at the end of the year and several were executed. There was a good deal of sympathy for John Boyes and he was twice acquitted before eventually being found guilty and sentenced to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land for seven years. The trials were reported in The Times in December 1830 and January 1831. John Boyes did not complete his sentence. In 1835 the Home Secretary, Lord Melbourne, pardoned him and he returned home to his wife, Faith, and their children, in June of that year to continue farming in Owslebury. He died in Hensting in 1856.

(2017) Let’s Lock Ourselves Here For A While

We had the pleasure of singing for Frack Free Lancashire and Reclaim The Power on Friday. During the show, Robin had an excuse to teach the audience a song he wrote for Newham Woodcraft Folk group last year called ‘Let’s Lock Ourselves Here For A While‘. Here are the lyrics and a recording so anyone who wants to learn it can:

 

D G
I’ve a hundred old bike locks and they won’t undo
A D
Any idea who I could give them to?
D G
It’s a nice sunny day in the countryside
A D
Lets lock ourselves here for a while

So sorry Mr Big Truck what is that you say
Something quite cross about us being in your way
The birds are enjoying the day from the trees
Lets lock ourselves here for a while

No we ain’t going nowhere, let’s climb up the trees
Someone must stick up for the birds and the bees
The poor have no lawyers, the trees have no rights
Lets lock ourselves here for a while

Mr blue badge and truncheon is also upset
Doesn’t seem that grace has quite got to him yet
Filmed by a smart phone as he beats up Dave
who locked himself here for a while

They arrested our Caroline it made the lead news
One day the greens will out number the blues
Well in the meantime we’ll do what we must
Lets lock ourselves here for a while

Chorus

Mr suit and tie construction has a seat in the Lords
Our tattered democracy just filed for divorce
One day the people will speak out as one
until then we’ll be locked here a while

(1809) 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 pleas’d to recall your decree,
Which tells us that acorns no longer are free.

In Sussex and Surrey and Middlesex too,
Pigs may ramble at large without such ado;
And 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 rang’d 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.

(1882*) Land Corporation of Ireland song by Duncan Bourne

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.

(1849) Chartists poems and songs

*** this website is now dead – luckily you can find an archived version of it here – https://web.archive.org/web/20170308111703/http://gerald-massey.org.uk/jones/c_poems_2.htm ***

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.

OUR SUMMONS.

Men of the honest heart,
Men of the stalwart hand,
Men, willing to obey,
Thence able to command:

Men of the rights withheld,
Slaves of the power abused,
Machines cast to neglect,
When your freshness has been used.

Ye labourers in the vineyard,
We call you to your toil!
Though bleak may be the furrows,
The seed is in the soil.

‘Tis not to raise a palace,
Where Royalty may dwell,
Nor build for broken hearts
The petty parish hell;

‘Tis not to turn the engine,
‘Tis not the field to till,
That, for the meed you gain,
Might be a desert still!

‘Tis not to dig the grave,
Where the dying miner delves;
‘Tis not to toil for others
But to labour for yourselves.

And nobler coin will pay you,
Than Kings did e’er award
To the men, they hired to murder,
The brothers they should guard.

No glittering stars of knighthood,
Shall soil your simple vest—
But the better star of honour
Brave heart in honest breast.

No changing Norman titles,
To hide your English name—
But the better one of freemen,
With its blazoning of fame.

Up! Labourers in the vineyard!
Prepare ye for your toil!
For the sun shines on the furrows,
And the seed is in the soil.