The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

If you'd like to publish any interesting material about the history of East Anglia on the site, then please send an email to the Resident Historians at Andrew.Clarke@Foxearth.org.uk and we'll add it.

Family Historians have their own area on the site, so look there if your main interest is in tracing your family history.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

We cheated the Parson, we'll cheat him again

At the Annual general Meeting of the Foxearth and District Local history society, Ashley Cooper gave us a short but fascinating account of the Tithe system of taxation, ancient in origin, and designed to pay for the church. Once it had lost its original purpose of provision for the poor and the out-of-luck, and went solely to provide an income for increasingly prosperous rectors and vicars, it became increasingly unpopular.

This brings to mind the popular song 'Harvest Home', or 'We cheated the Parson', to the tune of Henry Purcell's 1691 song in Act V of Dryden's "King Arthur". The original tune was so popular with the public that it was hummed in the streets and these words became the most common ones used from around 1700.


Harvest Home

or 'We've cheated the Parson'



Our oats they are hoed and our barley's reap'd,
Our hay it is mow'd and our hovels heap'd,
Harvest home, harvest home,
We'll merrily roar out our harvest home,

We cheated the Parson, we'll cheat him again.
For why should the Vicar have One in Ten?
One in Ten, One in Ten,
For why should the Vicar have One in Ten?

For staying while dinner is cold and hot,
And pudding and dumpling's burnt to pot,
Burnt to pot, burnt to pot,
Till pudding and dumpling's burnt to th' pot,

We'll drink off our liquor while we can stand,
And hey for the honour of old England,
Old England, old England,
And hey for the honour of old England,


Not everyone was happy with the sentiments of the song, particularly the Church and the Establishment. One enterprising party wrote, and published, a moralising answer to the anarchic sentiments of the original broadside ballad entitled.....

An Answer to Harvest Home


or a true character of such Countrymen who glory in cheating the Vicar and prefer Bag-Pudding and Dumpling before Religion and Learning




The country store up hay, oats and wheat,
And glory how they can the Parson cheat,
Parson cheat, Parson cheat,
And glory how they can the Parson cheat

The country bumpkin may speak with shame,
That ever he cheated for he's to blame,
He's to blame, he's to blame,
That ever he cheated for he's to blame,

Likewise in the laws of this potent land,
Nlow he in the pillory ought to stand,
Ought to stand, ought to stand,
Now he in the pillory ought to stand,

Degrading of learning does plainly show
They never knew nothing but 'Hi Gee Ho!'
Hi Gee Ho, Hi Gee Ho,
They never knew nothing but 'Hi Gee Ho!'

Their hungry appetite to suffice,
Bag-pudding and dumpling they idolise,
Idolise, idolise,
Bag-pudding and dumpling they idolise,

And still as their paunches they stuff and fill,
Faith, they are as safe as a thief in a mill,
Thief in a mill, thief in a mill,
Faith, they are as safe as a thief in a mill,

Religion and learning they all condemn,
A lusty Bag-pudding is more to them,
more to them, more to them,
A lusty Bag-pudding is more to them

Tell them of going to church to pray,
They'd rather hear Robin the Piper play,
Piper play, piper play,
They'd rather hear Robin the Piper play,

And when they have gathered in all their store,
They merrily revel, nay rant and roar,
Harvest home, Harvest home!
They merrily roar out their harvest home,


(from the Roxburghe collection)

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