Published on April 14th, 2021 | by All Things Warrington


‘Warrikin Fair’

Warrikin (Warrington) Fair is believed to be Lancashire’s oldest surviving ballad. It can be dated to around 1548 thanks to its reference to a man named ‘Rondle Shay’ who was recorded in 1548 as being the bailiff of Sir Thomas Butler (Boteler), the Lord of Warrington Manor. The ballad tells of Gilbert Scott who sold his horse Barry to a stranger at Warrikin (Warrington) Fair. When the money for the sale wasn’t forthcoming he was met with the wrath of his wife Grace who, after hitting him about the head with a stick for being so stupid, travelled to Warrington in search of the man who’d swindled her husband. She finally caught up with the villain and gave chase, causing a commotion as she went. She eventually cornered him at the lodgings of Rondle Shay where she gave the bandit an ultimatum – the horse, the money or the hangman. The man refused at which point another argument broke out. Eventually Rondle Shay stepped into the fray and insisted the man give Grace the money she was owed. Grace headed off home with a smile on her face and the money in her pocket – money her husband Gilbert would never see!

Warrikin Fair (author unknown)

Now, au yo good gentlefoak, an yo won tarry,
I’ll tell yo how Gilbert Scot soud his mare Barry;
He soud his mare Barry at Warrikin fair,
But when he’ll be paid, he knaws no’, I’ll swear

So when he coom whom, and toud his woif Grace,
Hoo stud up o’ th’ kippo, and swat him o’er th’ face.
Hoo pick’d him o’ th’ hillock, and he fawd wi’ a whack,
That he thowt would welly a brocken his back

“O woife,” quo’ he, “if thou’ll le’mme but rise,
I’ll gi’ thee aw’ th’ leet, wench, imme that lies;”
“Tho udgit,” quo’ hoo, “but wheer does he dwell?”
“By lakin,” quo’ he, “that I conno’ tell.”

“I tuck him for t’ be some gentlemon’s son,
For he spent tuppence on me, when we had dun;
An’ he gen me a lunchin o’ denty snig poy,
An’ by th’ hond did he shak’ me most lovingly.”

Then Grace hoo prompted hur neatly and fine,
An’ to Warrikin went o’ We’nsday betime;
An’ theer, too, hoo staid for foive markit days,
Till th’ mon wi’ th’ mare wer cum t’ Rondle Shay’s.

An’ as hoo wer’ resting one day in hur rowm,
Hoo spoy’d th’ mon a-riding th’ mare into th’ town;
Then bounce goos hur heart, an’ hoo were so gloppen,
That out o’ th’ winder hoo’d like for to loppen

Hoo stampt an’ hoo stared, an’ down stairs hoo run,
Wi’ hur heart in hur hont, an’ hur wint welly gone;
Her head-gear flow off, an’ so did her snood;
Hoo stampt an’ hoo stared, as if hoo’d bin woode

To Rondle’s hoo hied, an’ hoo hov’ up the latch,
Afore th’ mon had tied th’ mare gradely to th’ cratch.
“My gud mon,” quo’ hoo, “Gilbert greets you right merry,
And begs that yo’ll send him th’ money for Berry.”

“Oh, money!” quo’ he, “that connot I spare:”
“By lakin,” quo’ hoo, “then I’ll ha’ th’ mare.”
Hoo poo’d an’ hoo thrumper’d him sham’ to be seen,
“Thou hangman,” quo’ hoo, “I’ll poo’ out thy e’en

“I’ll mak’ thee a sompan, I’ll houd thee a groat;
I’ll auther ha’ th’ money, or poo’ out thy throat:”
So between ’em they made sich a wearisom’ din,
That to mak’ ’em at peace, Rondle Shay did come in

“Cum, fye, naunty Grace; cum, fye, an’ ha’ dun;
You’st ha’ th’ mare, or th’ money, whether yo’ won.”
So Grace geet th’ money, an’ whomwards hoo’s gone;
But hoo keeps it hursel’, an’ gies Gilbert Scot none

To ‘Tarry’ means to delay or be late in coming or going i.e. “Come all you good gentlefolk, do not delay, and I’ll tell you about Gilbert Scott…”
‘Kippo’ is a big stick i.e. “She stood up with a big stick and hit him about the face”.
‘Welly’ means nearly.
An ‘Udgit’ is a soft fool, clumsy fellow, similar to ‘egit’, often described as ‘a complete and utter clown or person that can’t do anything correctly, a person that always makes a fool of themselves’. Suffice to say poor Gilbert wasn’t the brightest button in the box!
‘By Lakin’ is a corruption of ‘By’r lakin’, itself a corruption of ‘By our lady’, an old Roman Catholic expletive, similar to ‘Jesus Christ’
‘Denty snig poe’ means dainty snig (i.e. eel) pie.
‘Prompted’ in the context of “Then Grace she ‘prompted’ her neatly and fine” means to “dress or adorn, i.e. “Grace she dressed herself neatly and fine.
The line(s) “An’ theer, too, hoo staid for foive markit days, Till th’ mon wi’ th’ mare wer cum t’ Rondle Shay’s” can be translated as “And there she resided for five market days until the man with the mare came and put up at Rondle Shay’s. “
‘Gloppen’ means startled or surprised
‘Loppen’ means to have leaped.
The line “Wi’ hur heart in hur hont, an’ hur wint welly gone” can be translated as “with her heart in her hand, and her wind (breath) nearly gone.”
‘Snood’ is a hair-fillet or band.
‘Woode’ means mad or wild.
The line(s) “To Rondle’s hoo hied, an’ hoo hov’ up the latch, Afore th’ mon had tied th’ mare gradely to th’ cratch” translate as “To Rondle’s she went, and she heaved up the latch, before the man had tied the mare properly or completely to the hay-rack.
To ‘thrumper’ means to thump or beat.
‘Poo’d’ means pulled, or in the context of the ballad, “If you don’t give me the money I’ll pull out your throat”
‘Sompan’ is a sumph. i.e a foolish, stupid fellow.
The phrase “I’ll hold thee a groat,” means “I’ll bet thee a wager of a groat”, a groat being an old British coin worth four pennies.
And finally ‘Naunty’ is another way of saying ‘aunt’, a salutation once used to describe any elderly woman, not necessarily a relative.

About the Author

Back to Top ↑
  • All Things Warrington is dedicated to chronicling the people, places, landmarks and fascinating industrial and cultural heritage of Warrington, England.

  • Love Warrington?

    If you love Warrington, why not listen to Radio Warrington, the town’s very own community radio station broadcasting live 24 hours a day from Warrington Market.

  • Share this page