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It was Hankey the squi-er, as I have heard say,
Who rode out a-hunting on one Saturday.
They hunted all day but nothing they found.
But a poor murdered woman, laid on the cold ground.

About eight o'clock, boys, our dogs they throwed off,
On Leatherhead Common, and that was the spot;
They tried all the bushes, but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman, laid on the cold ground.

They whipped their dogs off, and kept them away,
For I do think it's proper he should have fair play;
They tried all the bushes, but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman, laid on the cold ground.

They mounted their horses, and rode off the ground,
They rode to the village, and alarmed it all round,
"It is late in the evening, I am sorry to say,
She can not be remov-ed until the next day."

The next Sunday morning, about eight o'clock,
Some hundreds of people to the spot they did flock;
For to see the poor creature your hearts would have bled,
Some odious violence had come to her head.

She was took off the coffin, and down to some inn,
And the man that has kept it, his name is John Simms.
The coroner was sent for, the jury they joined,
And soon they concluded, and settled their mind.

Her coffin was brought; in it she was laid,
And took to the churchyard that was called Leatherhead,
No father, no mother, nor no friend, I'm told,
Come to see that poor creature put under the mold.

So now I'll conclude, and finish my song,
And those that have done it, they will find themselves wrong.
For the last day of Judgement the trumpet will sound,
And their souls not in heaven, I'm afraid, won't be found.


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Source: Broadwood, L, 1908, English Traditional Songs and Carols, London, Boosey

Sung by Mr Forster, 1897.

Lucy Broadwood wrote:

This fine Dorian tune was noted in 1897 by the Rev. Charles J. Shebbeare at Milford, Surrey, from the singing of a young labourer, with whom it was a favourite song. Mr. Foster wrote out the doggerel words, and had heard that they described a real event.  Through the kindness of the Vicar of Leatherhead, the Rev. E. J. Nash (who questioned Mr. Lisney, a parishioner of 87, in Feb. 1908), the ballad has proved to be an accurate account of the finding and burial (Jan. 15th, 1834,) of "a woman-name unknown-found in the common field," as the parish Registers give it. Mr. Lisney, who remembered the events perfectly, said that the author of the ballad was Mr. Fairs, a brickmaker of Leatherhead Common. The Milford labourer's version of names, "Yankee" for "Hankey," and "John Sinn" for " John Simms " of the Royal Oak Inn, are in Journal of the Folk Song Society, Vol. i, p. 186. His obscure line in verse 5 has here been altered to something probably more like the original, for "the poor woman's head had been broken with a stick." The Milford singer gave it: " Some old or some violence came into their heads." This song is only one of many proofs that "ballets" are made by local, untaught bards, and that they are transmitted, and survive, long after the events which they record have ceased to be a reality to the singer.

Roud: 1064 (Search Roud index at VWML)

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