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Most gentlemen take great delight
In hunting bold Reynard the Fox
Twas by Gaffer Ghylls I did lie
Where I lived upon fat geese and ducks
Twas by Gaffer Ghylls I did lie
Not thinking how soon I should die
I was chased by a pack of fresh hounds
That caused me from my country to fly

Twas by Gaffer Ghylls I did lie
And I lived at a plentiful rate
Young lambs I plucked on their bones
And the farmers 'gan for me to hate
Lord Jones for the king's hounds did send
Tommy Bosun he swore I should die
And I left three brothers behind me
That loves young lambs far better than I

It's forty long miles I rambled
And I done it in three hours space
It made my old coat stand on end
As the hounds followed on me apace
For it's oftentimes I've been pursued
By hounds that would run like a cow
But in the whole course of my lifetime
Never had such a breathing till now

By Simon Sturt's I did ramble
Where the gamekeeper shot through my thigh
Oh pardon dear huntsmen and hounds
But from this fatal wound I must die
My old coat it lay close to my back
To hear how the hounds they did hollo
My sweat dropped like dew in the morning
For to hear how the huntsmen did follow

It was in Stony Fields where they killed me
Oh the blood-thirsty hounds how they follow
They tore my old jacket to pieces
Good Lord how the huntsmen did hollo!
And now that bold Reynard is ended
To the tavern they'll go down to dine
They'll dip my fore-paw in a bumper
And they'll drink their lord's health in good wine

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Source: Kennedy, D (1987) Martin Carthy: A Guitar in Folk Music. Petersham, New Punchbowl Music

Recorded by Martin Carthy on Out of the Cut (Topic Records, 1982). Carthy notes:
"Reynard the Fox is memorable among other things for its use of the first person and is a Sussex version of a song which, considering the name - 'Gaffer Ghylls', probably has a more northern location. I learned it from Vic Gammon."

The song continues in tradition to this day, featuring in the repertoire of the Holme Valley Hunt in Yorkshire.

A number of broadside editions may be seen at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads. These include:

The fox Printed between 1813 and 1838 by J. Catnach, 2 Monmouth-court, 7 Dials [London]. Harding B 11(1254)

Death of the fox Printer and date unknown. Harding B 25(492)

Death of the fox Printer and date unknown. 2806 c.18(84)

Sly Reynard the fox Printed between 1820 and 1824 for W. Armstrong, Banastre-street [Liverpool]. Harding B 28(261)

Textual variation isn't particularly great in the broadsides. The first-mentioned sheet names the place (usually just "yon stony common") as "Gaffer Gelding". We aren't told where Vic Gammon got his set, but it's worth mentioning that Lucy Broadwood published a version in Sussex Songs: Popular Songs of Sussex (1889) which is nearly identical in both text and tune.

Also see The Fox Hunt, an unrelated song that is sometimes known by this title.

Roud: 1868 (Search Roud index at VWML)

Related Songs:  Bold Reynard [Reynard The Fox] (thematic) Gentlemen of High Renown (easily confused with) The Fox Hunt [Bold Reynolds] (easily confused with)

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