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Tom Bawcock’s Eve

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 29379 , 41803 ; Robert Morton Nance, Ralph Dunstan, 1927]

Brenda Wootton and Robert Bartlett sang Tom Bawcock’s Eve in 1975 on their Sentinel album Starry-Gazey Pie. They noted:

At Mousehole this is the eve before Christmas Eve, which was formerly kept among the fisher-folk. Its particular feature was the eating of seven sorts of fish with plenty of moonshine to wash it down. Seven different sorts of fish—among them the murgy (dog fish), scad (horse mackerel), fairmaid (pilchards) and shark—were supposed to have been put into one pie with their heads sticking out. hence ‘Starry Gazey Pie’. It has been suggested that the song has its origins in an old sun-worship feast held on 25 December in which the cock is the sacred herald of the sun and the fish the emblem of fertility—Bawcock being a corruption of Le Beau Coq.

Dave Lowry sang Tom Bawcock’s Eve in 2023 on his WildGoose CD Songs of a Devon Man. Bill Crawford noted:

Morton Nance was inspired to write a few verses about Tom Bawcock’s Eve (23 December) and in the Cornish Song Book (1929), Ralph Dunstan set this to a traditional Cornish Tea Treat wedding march. For the uninitiated, the fish are: murgy (dog fish), lances (sand eels), scad (horse mackerel), fair maids (pilchards), ling, hake and running shark. Dave’s source was Brenda Wootton.


Dave Lowry sings Tom Bawcock’s Eve

Chorus (after each verse):
A merrier place you may believe
Was Mousehole on Tom Bawcock’s Eve
To be there then who would not wish
To sup on seven sorts of fish

When murgy broth had cleared the path
Wi’ lances for a fry
And then us had a bit o’ scad
And starry gazy pie

Next came fair maids, bra’ thrusty jades
As made our oozles dry
And ling and hake, enough to make
A running shark to sigh

As each we’d clunk as health were drunk
In bumpers brimming high
And when up came Tommy Bawcock’s name
Us praised him to the sky.