Custom demised: Lost November 5th rhymes

Standard

Many of us are familiar with the bonfire rhyme or bonfire prayer:

“Pray remember

The Fifth of November,

Gunpowder treason and plot;

For I know no reason

Why Gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot.

Hollo boys! Hollo boys! Hurrah.”

Which has become a children’s nursery rhyme as well

If you attend an event in Sussex you will also here the following verse no doubt:

“A penn’orth of bread to feed the Pope,

A penn’orth of cheese to choke him;

A pint of beer to wash it down,

And a good old faggot to burn him.”

But across the country there were local variants many recorded in Alexander Andrew’s 1783 Long ago-A Journal of Popular Antiquities which appear to have been largely lost. In Derbyshire:

“Remember, remember,

Th’ fifth o’ November,

Th’ gunpowder plot,

Shall ne’er be forgot!

Pray gi’s a bit o’ coal,

Ter stick in th’ bun-fire hole!

A stick an’ a stake,

For King George’s sake—

A stowp an’ a reel,

Or else wey’ll steal.”

In Lincolnshire:

“Remember, remember

The fifth o’ November!

Guy and his companions’ plot:

We’re going to blow the Parliament up!

By God’s mercy we wase catcht,

With a dark lantern an’ lighted matcht!”

 Northamptonshire the following was chanted:

“Gunpowder treason!

Gunpowder treason!

Gunpowder treason plot!

I know no reason

Why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fox and his companions

Did the scheme contrive,

To blow the King and Parliament

All up alive.

But, by God’s providence, him they catch,

With a dark lantern, lighting a match!

Hollo, boys! hollo, boys! make the bells ring!

Hollo, boys! hollo, boys! God save the king! Hurrah.”

In Clifton in Nottinghamshire the following was recorded:

“Please to remember

The fifth of November.

Old Guy Faux

And gunpowder plot

Shall never be forgot,

While Nottingham castle

Stands upon a rock!

In Oxfordshire:

“The fifth of November,

Since I can remember,

Gunpowder treason and plot;

This was the day the plot was contriv’d,

To blow up the King and Parliament alive;

But God’s mercy did prevent

To save our King and his Parliament.

A stick and a stake

For King James’s sake!

If you won’t give me one,

I’ll take two,

The better for me,

And the worse for you.”

In Poor Robin’s Almanack for the year 1677 is the following:

“Now boys with

Squibs and crackers play,

And bonfire’s blaze

Turns night to-day.”

In some parts of the north of England the following song is sung:

“Happy was the man,

And happy was the day,

That caught Guy

Going to his play,

With a dark lanthorn

And a brimstone match

Ready for the prime to touch.

As I was going through the dark entry

I spied the devil.

Stand back! Stand back!

Queen Mary’s daughter.

Put your hand in your pocket,

And give us some money

To kindle our bonfire. Hurrah.”

All these variants appear to have disappeared as a standard was written down and spread around via media sources – a trend that continues today!

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