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NOTES ON ENGLISH FOLKLORE.
Curious Wedding Custom and the Result.-At West Hartlepool County Court to-day a schoolboy named Keith was awarded £5 damages against Joseph Franklin, a miner. After a colliery wedding hot and cold coppers were thrown in accordance with custom, and it was alleged that a hot coin thrown by the defendant out of a window went down the boy's back and burned him severely, so that he was absent from school eight weeks.
(Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, 6th July, 1917.)
Marrick, Swaledale, N. Yorks. Church Removal.-The village is on a hill, and the Church at the bottom. The Devil is said to have moved the Church from the top of the hill to its present position.
(Mrs. Day, Minchinhampton, native of Swaledale.) Stow-o'-Nine Churches, near Daventry, Northants. Church Removal.-They tried to build the Church nine times (hence the name) and every time it was overthrown.
(From Mr. Fennemore, farmer, æt. go, native.)
Inkberrow, Worcestershire. Charm for Thrush.-Old Mrs. Perks, born 1801, farmer's wife, married a man with the same surname as herself. She was therefore believed to have gained the power of charming away “thrush” (or “white mouth") in babies, and children were brought to her from far and near. She muttered something over them, but would never tell what it was.
(From her own family.) Flowers unlucky.-A farmer's wife from Inkberrow (cir. 1887), visiting my mother at Aloechurch, was given a bunch of roses from our garden. But before going back to the house she contrived to drop them quietly, one by one. This was noticed by my young brother, who knew the reason—it brings bad luck to the chickens if flowers are taken inside a house.
Alvechurch, North-East Worcestershire. Tradition of Seven Churches.—This village of about 1000 inhabitants, with Church (on pre-Norman site) dedicated to St.
Lawrence, has a tradition that it was once a place of some
(Told me by M. H., old village woman, born 1817.) Cf. “Barnaby the bright," Spenser, Epithalamium.
Rhyme. -Crows were supposed to say to each other
“ Dead horse ! Dead horse”!
(M. H., born 1817.) Rattling of Window as Omen.—The carrier’s wife was sitting up one night with her old mother, whose illness was not considered serious. “I always thought she was going to get better until the window rattled, and then of course I knew as she was going to die.” The old woman died shortly afterwards.
(From the speaker herself, cir. 1895.)
Pigeon as Omen.- A pigeon alighting on the window-sill was regarded as an omen of some disaster.
(From farmer's daughter, cir. 1895.) Laying a Ghost.-Old Parson Tonyn, rector in the early part of the last century, was sent for to lay a ghost. He was said to have bound it down to walk no more for as many years as there were ears of corn in the nearest field or drops of rain in the next shower.
(Told me by old members of my family, who belonged to Parson Tonyn's congregation.)
Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire. Weather Proverb. The fickle weather of May is described by the proverb :
May, soon or late,
Always makes the old cow quake. (Heard several times quoted by old natives, in May, 1917.)
Stroud District, Gloucestershire. Swallowing a Frog.-Early in 1916 this story was being much talked about, and I heard it from several sources. A woman had lately swallowed a frog, or a frog's egg, which lived and grew inside her. She was taken to Stroud Hospital. “And they tried
“ to open her, but they couldn't open her, because it moved about. And she was in such agony that she asked them to give her poison and put her out of her misery. So they wrote to the King to ask if they might poison her, and the King wrote back to say No, they mustn't. Then the doctor put a piece of cheese on her tongue, and the frog smelt it and came up, but as it came up it choked her. And they do say that frog weighed half a pound.”
(Enquiries at Stroud Hospital failed to discover any foundation for the story.)
Beesands and Beeson, S. Devon. Ghosts.-An old woman was met by a coach and headless horses; she died soon after.
A clump of trees (looking rather as if a tumulus had stood there) on the road between Beeson and Beesands, is said to be "a wisht place.” “Things without heads or tails” have been seen there.
The ghost of a bad man used to be seen on a white horse at Matscombe Cross (i.e. cross roads). In a haunted room, sleepers have been pinched black.
(From fisherman's daughter, et. 40. 1910.) Divination.-Fasten a pod of nine peas over the door, and
you will see your future husband. An “even ash” [ash leaf with an even number of leaflets] will answer the same purpose.
Piskies.— When the piskies have been hard at work threshing corn, if you listen through the keyhole of the barn you can hear them saying to each other: “Do you sweat? I sweat!” “Do you sweat? I sweat!”
Piskies will lead you round and round a field, but you can find your way out of it if you turn your pocket inside out.
(From fisherman's daughter, et. 40. 1910.)
Stokenham, S. Devon. Church Removal—They tried to build the Church in another spot, but as fast as they built it up, the devil pulled it down again.
(From tradition still current in the parish. 1910).
Denbury, near Newton Abbot!, Devonshire. Ancient Encampment.[Denbury Hill, or Denbury Down, has an encampment.] There is also to be seen an ancient stone, with all the markings thereon, with which the Danes sharpened their weapons of war. [Treasure is said to be hidden there, and these two rhymes are current]:
“ When Exeter was a furzey down,
Denbury was a borough town."
Denbury could plough with a golden share." (Illustrated Western Weekly News, 5 August, 1911, page 24.)
Trelawne, near Love, Cornwall. Well of St. Nun.—[The Well of St. Nun, or St. Ninnie, also called " Pisky's Well,” has this said about it]: "Take what water yau mind to out o' the well, it'll allus fill again ; yau can't empty un, nor can yau move un. They uv tried with oxen to move the bowl, but yau can't.” [The bowl contains about five or six gallons.]
(Illustrated Western Weekly News, 5 August, 1911, page 24.)
Clifton, Bristol, Gloucestershire. Bridal Custom. — The night before the wedding, the bride was dressed by the bridesmaids in her very oldest night attire. This is known to have been done at the wedding of a doctor's daughter, cir. 1872.
(From the sister of one of the young bridesmaids on that occasion).
Yeovil, Somerset. Tip of a Tongue.—When cold tongue was carved at table, the extreme tip was sliced off and presented to one of the company. “Keep that in your purse, and then you will never be without something in it."
(From granddaughter of former Mayor of Yeovil, cir. 1865.)
Green Garters.-If a younger sister married before an older one, the latter was said to dance in green garters at the wedding.
(Miss C. N. Mayo, Minchinhampton, of Yeovil family.) Garters as Heirlooms for Brides.-Old Captain Worsfold, of Yeovil, who died cir. 1830, knitted garters in variegated silk, which he gave to his young nieces with the injunction that each girl should wear them on her wedding day, and hand them down to her female descendants for use on similar occasions. One pair at least of these garters has been carefully preserved and used by numerous brides; a list of the wearers is kept, the last name having been added about fifteen years ago.
(From Miss C. N. Mayo, Minchinhampton, great-great-niece of Capt. Worsfold.)
J. B. PARTRIDGE.
NEGRO PROVERBS COLLECTED IN JAMAICA, 1887. If you can't get Turkey, you must satisfy with John Crow (buzzard).
Cornful dog nyam (eat) dirty pudding some day.
“ When you trow rock-a-tone at pigstye, de pig you yerry cry Quee Quee is the one you hit.
When you sleep wi' dog you catch him flea.