Rufford Park Poachers

This is another of the songs Joseph Taylor recorded for the Gramophone Company, though it was not issued. Grainger used it in Lincolnshire Posy as "'Rufford Park Poachers' (Poaching Song)." Indeed, it tells a dramatic tale of an event that took place in 1851, when Mr. Taylor was a young man. A gang of thirty or forty poachers was attacked by ten gamekeepers, one of whom was mortally wounded during the battle. Four of the poachers were tried for his murder, found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. Mr. Taylor remembered only three verses of the ballad, and Patrick O'Shaughnessy, who discovered a broadsheet giving an account of the trial, completed the text.

A buck or doe, believe it so, a pheasant or a hare
Were sent on earth for every man quite equally to share.
     So poacher bold, as I unfold, keep up your gallant heart,
     And think about those poachers bold, that night in Rufford Park.

They say that forty gallant poachers, they were in distress,
They'd often been attacked when their number it was less.

Among the gorse, to settle scores, these forty gathered stones,
To make a fight for poor men's rights, and break the keepers' bones.

The keepers went with flails against the poachers and their cause,
To see that none again would dare defy the rich man's laws.

The keepers, they began the fray with stones and with their flails,
But when the poachers started, oh, they quickly turned their tails.

Upon the ground, with mortal wound, head-keeper Roberts lay,
He never will rise up until the final Judgment Day.

Of all that band that made their stand to set a net or snare
The four men brought before the court were tried for murder there.

The judge he said, "For Roberts' death transported you must be,
To serve a term of fourteen years in convict slavery."
     So poacher bold, my tale is told, keep up your gallant heart,
     And think about those poachers bold, that night in Rufford Park.

© Golden Hind Music