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Warrykin Fair c1548.


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I uploaded this poem about three years ago, thought I would show it again as many new members won't have seen it. It's an old ballad from about 1548, and I believe one of the only example of the lancashire dialect spoken in Warrington at that time.





There is an old ballad preserved we believe by Mr.
J. O. Haliwell, and communicated by William Bea-
mout, Esq. of Warrington describing, in the dialect
of the place and time, how Gilbert Scott sold his
mare Barry' at Warrikin {i.e., Warrington) Fair. It
is perhaps the oldest ballad extant in the Lancashire
dialect, and its date is fixed by the name " Rondle
Shay's " in the fifth verse ; for the name of Sir Thomas
Butler's bailiff in the 2d Edward VI. (1548) was
Randle Shay or Shaw.

Now, au yo good gcntlefoak, an yo won tarry",
I'll tell yo how Gilbert Scott soud his mare Barry ;
He soud his mare Barry at Warrikin fair.
But when he'll be paid, he knaws no', I'll swear.

So when he coom whom, and toud his woife Grace,
Hoo stud up o' th' kippo, and swat him o'er th' face,
Hoo pick'd him o' th' hillock, and he fawd wi' a whack,
That he thowt would welly a brocken his back.

"O woife," quo' he," if thou'll le'mme but rise,
I'll gi' thee aw" th' leet, wench, imme that lies ;"
"Tho udgit," quo' hoo, "but wheer does he dwell?"
"By lakin," quo' he, " that I conno' tell."

"I tuck him for t' be some gentlemen's son,
For he spent tuppence on me, when he had dun ;
An' he gen me a lunchin o' denty snig poy,
An' by th' hond did he shak' me most lovingly."

Then Grace hoo prompted hur neatly and tine,
An' to Warrikin went e' We'nsday betime ;
An' theer, too, hoo staid for foive mark it days.
Till th' mon wi' th' marc were cum t' Kondle Shay's.

An' as hoo wer' resting one day in hur rowm,
Hoo spoy'd th' mon a-riding th' mare into th' town ;
Then bounce goos hur heart, an' hoo were so gloppen,
That out o' th' winder hoo'd like for to loppen.


Hoo stampt an' hoo stared, an' down stairs hoo run,
Wi' hur heart in hur hunt, an' hur want well gone ;
Her headgear flew off, and so did her snood ;
Hoo stampt and hoo stared, as if hoo'd bin wooed.

To Rundles hoo hide, an' hoo hove' up the latch,
Afore th' mon had tied th' mare gravely to th' crutch.
"My god mon," quo' hoo, " Gilbert greets you right merry,
And begs that youll send him th' money for Barry."

'Oh, money !" quo' he, "that connot I spare :"
"Be lakin," quo' hoo, " then I’ll ha' th' mare."
Hoo poo'd an' hoo thrumper'd him sham' to be seen,
"Thou hangman," quo' hoo, " I'll poo' out thy e'en.
"I'll mak' thee a sompan, I'll houd thee a groat ;
I'll auther ha' th' money, or poo' out thy throat : "
So between 'em they made sich a wearisom' din,
That to mak' 'em at peace, Rondle Shay did come in.
"Cum, fyc, naunty Grace ; cum, fye, an' ha' dun ;
You'st ha' th' mare, or th' money, whether yo' won."
So Grace geet th' money, an' whomwards hoo's gone ;
But hoo keeps it hursel' an' gies Gilbert Scott none.


A few words in this quaint ballad require a glossary.
It has evidently been preserved by oral tradition for a
time, and then incorrectly dictated by, or taken down
from, its singer.

The second line of the second verse should read thus.

"Hoo tuck up th' kippo, an' swat
him o'er th' face ;" that is She took up the big stick
and struck him over the face.
The next line reads.
She pushed or pitched him upon the hillock, and he
fell with a whack, or great force. "Welly " is well-
nigh, nearly.
The second line of the third verse, in English, is.

 I will give thee all the light, wench, in me
that lies. "Udgit" may mean a soft fool, or a clumsy
fellow ; or it may be a form of hedgehog.

 "By lakin " is a corruption of " By'r lakin," itself a corruption of
"By our lady," a Roman Catholic expletive often to
be met with in old plays.
The third line of the fourth verse reads.
and he gave me a luncheon of dainty snig
(i.e. eel) pie.

We should be inclined to read the first line of the fifth verse thus.

 Then Grace she prompted
her {i.e. dressed, adorned herself) neatly and fine.
The third and fourth lines of this verse mean that she stayed
at Warrington five market-days, till the man with the
mare came and put up at Randle Shay's.

 "Gloppen " means startled, surprised ; "Loppen," to have leaped.
In the seventh verse are two similar colloquialisms,
"her heart in her hand, and her wind (breath) well-
nigh gone." "Snood" is a hair- fillet or band.
"Woode " is mad, wild.
The two first lines of verse eight read.

To Handle's she went, and she heaved up
the latch, before the man had tied the mare properly
or completely to the hay-rack. "Poo'd " is pulled ;
"thrumper'd," thumped, beat. "Sompan " is pro-
bably what we still mean by sumph, a foolish, stupid
fellow. "I'll hold thee a groat,"  I'll bet thee a
wager of a groat. Shakspere has "to hold a penny,'
in the sense of to bet a trifle.
In the last verse
Randle Shay accosts Grace Scott familiarly as
" Naunty," or aunt, a common mode of salutation to
elderly women.

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I find the dialect really interesting. There are elements in it that sound very similar to Norfolk/somerset accents, eg 'poy' for pie. I bought a book on old Cheshire dialect to help me decipher some old wills and there were a few words in there I recognised as Norfolk dialect words, eg 'craze' used a bit like the northern 'mither', "He's crazing me for that chocolate". The similarities in dialect between parts of the country so far from each other are striking. I also heard, think it was on Radio 4, that the British accent used to be a general 'countryside' accent and that in the 18th Century an RP type accent became fashionable in London so spread out from there to become a general southern accent. Interesting. 

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