> Folk Music > Songs > Shooting Goshen’s Cocks Up / The Bold Poachers

Shooting Goshen’s Cocks Up / The Bold Poachers

[ Roud 902 ; Ballad Index K354 ; Mudcat 152225 ; Fred Holman]

Everyman’s Book of English Country Songs

Wally Fuller sang The Bold Poachers in a recording made by Peter Kennedy at Laughton near Lewes, Sussex in November 1952. It was included in 2012 on the Topic anthology of songs by Southern English Gypsy traditional singers, I’m a Romany Rai (The Voice of the People Series Volume 22).

George ‘Pop’ Maynard sang Shooting Goshen’s Cocks Up in a recording made by Paul Carter and Ken Stubbs in Copthorne, Sussex, in 1962. It was published in 1976 on his Topic album of traditional songs from Sussex, Ye Subjects of England. Another recording made by Brian Matthews in The Cherry Tree in Copthorne in May 1960 was included in 2000 on his Musical Traditions anthology Down the Cherry Tree.

Jasper Smith of Epsom, Surrey, sang Shooting Spark’s Cocks Up in a recording made by Mike Yates in 1972-75 on the 2003 Musical Traditions anthology of Gypsy songs and music from South-East England, Here’s Luck to a Man. The album’s booklet commented:

Better known as Shooting Goshen’s Cock-Ups, the incident happened on the Goshen Estate near New Addington in Surrey, and the song was composed by Fred Holman, of Tatsfield in Surrey; who also wrote the song Patsy Flanaghan (Roud 16632), both of which Pop Maynard used to sing. The tune comes from an earlier song, Bow, Wow, Wow or The Barking Barber, which was popular in the 1780s. It was sufficiently well-known to be parodied in Alice in Wonderland.

Isla St Clair sang Shooting Goshen’s Cock-Ups in 1981 on the soundtrack album to the BBC television series The Song and the Story.

Arthur Knevett sang Shooting Coshen’s Cock Ups on his 1988 cassette Mostly Ballads. Vic Gammon noted:

A local song made famous by ‘Pop’ Maynard, singer and marbles champion from Copthorne (now a suburb of Gatwick Airport!) on the Surrey-Sussex border. Arthur also heard it sung by Jack Smith from Godalming in Surrey and has adopted Jack’s ‘Wandsworth Jail’ instead of Pop’s ‘Holloway’. Poaching was a perennial theme for songmakers down to the present century.

Jack Smith sang Shooting Goshen’s Cocks Up on the 2012 Musical Traditions anthology of traditional performers at a London folk club 1968-1970, King’s Head Folk Club.

Andy Turner learned Shooting Goshen’s Cocks Up from Pop Maynard’s record and sang it as the 20 November 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.


Fred Holman’s Shooting Goshen’s Cocks Up

If you’ll listen for a while, a story I will tell you,
And if you don’t attention pay, I’m sure I can’t compel you;
But as you’ve asked me for to sing, I’d better start at once.
I’ll tell you how I got six weeks and my mate got two months.

Chorus (after each verse):
With me row-dow-dow,
With me row-dow-dow.

Now, it happened on one Monday night: two more, myself and Clarkie
Went out a-pheasant shooting in a place we knew was narky.
Three keepers rushed upon the spot when guns began to rattle,
And our two mates they’d done a bunk and left us to the battle.

We tried our best to get away, but vain was our endeavour.
We should not have been taken if we all had stuck together,
But me and Clarkie was captured and taken to the lock-up,
And charged before Inspector Harris for shooting Goshen’s cocks up.

At ten o’clock next morning to the town hall we was taken.
We thought our case would settled be, but we were quite mistaken.
We was put back upon remand ’til the fourteenth of November,
And if you’ve read the Croydon Times, I ’spect you will remember.

[When our] remand was at an end; for Croydon we came steering,
And soon before the magistrates we stood to have our hearing.
Our case it was so very clear, it did not want much trying.
When our time it was knocked down to us, our wives they started crying.

Now we asked them to propose a fine but that they would not sanction.
Then soon we knew our residence would be the public mansion.
The magistrates to me, I’ll own, they acted like a neighbour.
They let me off with six weeks, but Clark two months hard labour.

Now four o’clock that afternoon, for Wandsworth jail we started.
Our friends were there to see us off; they all seemed broken-hearted.
Whilst rattling up to Wandsworth jail, our mind received a bewildering
About our future prospects of our wives and little children.

At Holloway, our clothes were searched and ev’rything was taken
Away from us, the warders thought, but they were quite mistaken;
For as I paced my lonely cell, I could not help but smile
To think I had deceived them; I’d got ’baccer all the while.

The first four weeks I was in jail, they put me grinding flour,
Likewise pumping water onto a lofty tower.
My strength it quickly did decrease; I thought it rather cruel
To make a man work harder on brown bread and water gruel.

On the twenty-fourth of December, my time it did expire.
When I got out, I had some scran; that’s what I did require;
And when I had a drink of beer, I really felt quite merry,
But my mate he don’t get out until the middle of January.

Jasper Smith sings Shooting Spark’s Cocks Up

As you’ve asked me for to sing I’d best to start at once,
I’ll tell you how I got three year, and me mate he got six months.
If Joe he’d never runned away we’d wouldn’t not been taken,
But he gave away to the break away, that’s where he were mistaken.

Chorus (after each verse):
With your row, dow, dow.
Fol the diddle laddy,
With your row, dow, dow.

Now Joe he looked around to me, he says, “We’re in a muddle.”
He give away to the break away, and he left me to the battle.
But Joe he looked around to me, he said that we’ll be knowing.
For shooting Spark’s cocks up, boy, in a place we knowed was narkry.

Now when they got us to the stir they set us grinding flour.
It was just like pumping water, boys, right from some lawfully tower.
But Joe he looked around to me, he says, “We’re in a muddle.
That is all as we’ve got to think about was the wives and little children.”

Now as I’ve had this half of beer it’s made me feel so merry.
Cause poor old Joe don’t come out of stir for the second of January.
But if Joe he’d never runned away we’d wouldn’t not been taken,
But he gave away to the break away, that’s where he were mistaken.