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Eynsham Poaching Song

[ Roud 1268 ; Ballad Index WT150 ; Wiltshire 579 , 965 ; DT EYNSPOAC ; Mudcat 7849 ; trad.]

Dave and Toni Arthur sang The Eynsham Poaching Song in 1967 on their Transatlantic album Morning Stands on Tiptoe. They noted:

Between 1788-1867, over 137,000 convicts were transported to Australia, Tasmania and Norfolk Island for various minor offences including poaching. The severity of the laws however did little to stop the poachers. In the above song the poachers are lucky and get back home to tell the tale and the song ends on a note of defiance. It was published in Williams’ Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames and the tune was collected by R.C. Puddyfoot in 1964 from George Paradine of Ivinghoe to a set of Buckinghamshire words.

Malcolm Douglas wrote in the Mudcat Café thread Lyrics to “The Eynsham Poacher”:

Credit where it’s due: this text came from Henry Leech of Eynsham. Alfred Williams noted it from him some time between 1914 and 1916. So far as can be told from Williams’ book Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames (1923, 150-1) the chorus here doesn’t belong to this version but to another, the Southrop Poaching Song, which Williams got from William King of Castle Eaton. No tunes were noted for either. Roy Palmer published Eynsham in his Room for Company (1971) set to a tune that R.C. Puddyfoot got from George Paradine; it belonged to The Buckingham Poacher. Dave and Toni Arthur were responsible for the collation. The revived Eynsham Morris dance Poachers to a close variant of the tune; whether it’s authentically traditional there or whether they got it from the Arthurs, or from Palmer’s book, I wouldn’t know.

Staverton Bridge sang the Eynsham Poaching Song in 1975 on their eponymous Saydisc album Staverton Bridge.

Canterbury Fair sang The Eynsham Poaching Song on their eponymous 1977 album Canterbury Fair. They noted:

During the last few years, hoe of the great joys for anyone interested in the folk songs of Britain has been the publication of a number of books on the subject by Roy Palmer. It was in his book Room for Company (Cambridge University Press, 1971) that we found this superb poaching song. So many of the poaching songs have sombre and tragic themes, but in this one the ‘villains’ get away with it, and good luck to ’em.

Fairport Convention sang The Eynsham Poacher on their 1977 album The Bonny Bunch of Roses. This track was also included on their 1998 anthology Fiddlestix: The Best of Fairport 1972-1984. A live recording from Cropredy 1982 was released in 1996 on their Musikfolk video Forever Young. A live recording from Cropredy 1983 was included in the following year on their Woodworm cassette The Boot.

Magpie Lane sang the Eynsham Poaching Song in 1993 on their Beautiful Jo album of songs and tunes from Oxfordshire, The Oxford Ramble.


Canterbury Fair sing The Eynsham Poaching Song

Three Eynsham chaps went out one day,
To Lord Abingdon’s manor they made their way;
They took their dogs to catch some game
And soon to Wytham Woods they came.

Chorus (after each verse):
Laddie i-o, laddie i-o, fol-de-rol over a laddie i-o

We had not long been beating there
Before our spaniel put up a hare;
Up she jumped, away she ran,
At the very same time a pheasant sprang.

We had not beat the woods all through
When Barrett, the keeper, he came in view;
And when we saw the old bugger look
We made our way to Cassington Brook.

When we got there ’twas full to the brim
And you’d have laughed to see us swim,
Ten feet of water, if not more;
When we got out our dogs came o’er.

Over hedges, ditches, gates and rails,
Our dogs followed after behind our heels;
And you can all say what you will
We’ll have our hares and pheasants still.