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Poor Murdered Woman [4:17]

The Front Cover
Coming In
Shirley Collins and the Albion Country Band
Claudy Banks [4:37]
The Little Gypsy Girl [2:16]
Banks Of The Bann [3:38]
Murder Of Maria Marten [7:28]
Van Diemen's Land [4:59]
Just As The Tide Was A 'Flowing [2:13]
The White Hare [2:43]
Hal-An-Tow [2:54]
Poor Murdered Woman [4:17]
A Little Music or The Delights of Harmony
Anthems In Eden
Notes and Things
The Back Cover

 
The Times on Tuesday January 14th 1834.

SUPPOSED MURDER - While the Surrey Union Fox Hounds (which are under the direction of H. Combe, Esq.) were out hunting on Saturday last, on Leatherhead Common, a most extraordinary and horrid circumstance occurred which at present is involved in great mystery. About 12 o'clock in the day, as the huntsman (Kitt) was beating about for a fox, the hounds suddenly made a dead set at a clump of bushes on the common. As no fox made his appearance, the huntsman whipped the hounds off, but they still returned to the bushes and smelling all round, would not leave. Supposing there was a fox which would not break cover, the huntsman &c., beat the bushes and in so doing, to their astonishment and horror, they discovered the body of a woman in a state of decomposition, so much so, that on attempting to remove it it was found to be impracticable. A person was placed to watch the remains, and information was sent to Dr. Evans of Leatherhead, who promptly attended. On examining the head, a severe wound was found, and from the general appearance of the body it is supposed to have lain there several months. It was placed in a shell and removed to the Royal Oak, on the common, where a coroner's inquest is summoned to assemble this day (Monday). Various rumours are afloat, some stating the unfortunate woman was the wife of a travelling tinker.

This ballad was printed in the Journal of the Folk-Song Society in 1902. It was collected by Lucy Broadwood in Surrey in 1897, from a Mr. Foster of of the same county, who had collected it from a farm labourer. Mr Foster was told by the labourer of the events surrounding the song and the then vicar of Leatherhead confirmed this.

According to a woman who remembered the events, the author of the ballad was Mr. Fairs, a brickmaker

three versions of the song

Poor Murdered Woman

It was Hanky the squire as I've heard men say
Who rode out a-hunting on one saturday
They hunted all day but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman laid on the cold ground

About eight o'clock, boys, our dogs they throve off
On Leatherhead Common and that was the spot
They tried all the bushes but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman laid on the cold ground

They whipped their dogs off and they kept them away
Cried "We think it is proper that she should have fair play"
They tried all the bushes but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman laid on the cold ground

They mounted their horses and they rode off the ground
They rode to the village and alarmed it all around
"It is late in the evening, I'm sorry to say
She cannot be removed until the next day"

The next sunday morning about eight o'clock
Some hundreds of people to the spot they did flock
For to see the poor creature, your hearts would have bled
Some cold-hearted violents came into their heads

She was took off the Common and down to some inn
And the man that has kept it, his name is John Simms
The coroner was sent for, the jury they joined
And soon they concluded and they settled their mind

The coffin was brought, in it she was laid
And took to the churchyard of this court Leatherhead
No father nor mother nor no friend I'm told
Came to see the poor creature laid under the lawn

So now I conclude and I'll finish my song
And those that have tarried shall find themselves wrong
To the last day of judgement a trumpet shall sound
And this soul's not in heaven, I'm afraid, when being found

Recorded by Shirley Collins and the Albion Country Band
on "No Roses" (1971)  and by Marin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick
on "But Two Came By" (1969)  the Carthy/Swarbrick version
does not have the last verse

The Poor Murdered Woman
 
It was Hankey the squire, as I have heard say,
Who rode out a-hunting on one Saturday.
They hunted all day, but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman, laid on the cold ground.

About eight o'clock, boys, our dogs they throwed off,
On Leatherhead Common, and that was the spot;
They tried all the bushes, but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman, laid on the cold ground.

They whipped their dogs off, and kept them away,
For I do think it's proper he should have fair play;
They tried all the bushes, but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman, laid on the cold ground.

They mounted their horses, and rode off the ground,
They rode to the village,and alarmed it all round,
'It is late in the evening, I am sorry to say,
She can not be removed until the next day.'

The next Sunday morning, about eight o'clock,
Some hundreds of people to the spot they did flock;
For to see the poor creature your hearts would have bled,
Some odious violence had come to her head.

She was took off the common, and down to some inn,
And the man that has kept it, his name is John Simms.
The coroner was sent for, the jury they joined,
And soon they concluded, and settled their mind.

Her coffin was brought; in it she was laid,
And took to the churchyard that was called Leatherhead,
No father, no mother, nor no friend, I'm told,
Come to see that poor creature put under the mould.

So now I'll conclude, and finish my song,
And those that have done it, they will find themselves wrong.
For the last day of Judgment the trumpet will sound,
And their souls not in heaven, I'm afraid, won't be found.

Poor Murdered Woman

It was Yanky the squire as I've heard them tell
He went out a-courting all on one fine day
He went out a-courting but nothing he found
But a poor murdered woman laid on the cold ground

About eight o'clock boys our dogs they throwed off
And off to the common and that was the spot
They tried all the bushes but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman laid on the cold ground

They whipped their dogs off and they kept them away
For I do think it is proper that you should have fair play
They tried all the bushes but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman laid on the cold ground

They mounted their horses and they rode off the ground
They rode to the village and alarmed it all around
It is late in the evening I am sorry to say
She cannot be removed until the next day

The next Sunday morning about eight o'clock
Some hundreds of people to the spot they did flock
For to see that poor creature it would make your hearts bleed
Some cold-hearted violence came into their heads

She was took off the common and down to some inn
And the man that has kept it his name is John Sim
The coroner was sent for and the jury they joined
And soon they concluded and they settled their mind

A coffin was brought and in it she was laid
And took to the churchyard in fair Leatherhead
No father no mother nor no friend at all
Came to see the poor creature put under the mould

No Rose 1971 [click for larger image]
Pegasus PEG 7 (LP, UK, 1971)

Shirley Collins said in the
No Roses sleeve notes:

A favourite song of mine learned from the singer Pete Wood. Reported in The Times on Tuesday January 14th 1834, it's the true story
of a body found on Leatherhead Common by the Surrey Union Hunt. Written by a tender-hearted observer at the time the song is so straight-forwardly told that its compassion and dignity might escape you, were it not for its noble tune.”

But Two Came By 1968 [click for larger image]
Fontana STL 5477 (LP, UK, 1968)

Martin Carthy, vocals, guitar;
Dave Swarbrick, violin, mandolin
 

Ship in Distress (2:28)
 
Banks of Sweet Primroses (2:52)
 
Jack Orion (4:03)
 
Matt Hyland (4:45)
 
White Hare (2:47)
 
Lord of the Dance (2:40)
 
Poor Murdered Woman (2:48)
 
Creeping Jane (3:47)
 
Streets of Forbes (3:20)
 
Long Lankin (5:40)
 
Brass Band Music (3:32)

All tracks Trad. arr. Martin Carthy pub.
Sparta Florida Music Group
except Track 3 Trad. adapt. A.L. Lloyd
Track 6 Trad. arr. Sydney Carter
Track 11 Leon Rosselson pub.
Essex Music

Martin Carthy said in the
But Two Came By sleeve notes:

"The Poor Murdered Woman Laid on the Cold Ground
is a fairly short and simple song which describes what I can only describe as a non-event, but it is the kind of song to which I am attracted, as having a lot more underneath it than is at first obvious. No one know who this woman is, nor where she comes from, but everyone nonetheless is stirred to action."

related internet links

originally printed in 1871

A Vision of Britain Through Time
.

this page originally appeared on our
Albion Chronicles website, it's still there

no roses is
2006/2007 sam-and-lizzie
all rights reserved